Consider Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner

A family nurse practitioner is an advanced practice nurse that takes care of all members of the family. This nurse caters to children, adults and the elderly in the context of the family as a major influence of every aspect of an individual’s health.

Just like other nurse practitioners, FNPs assume an expanded role compared to other traditional nursing roles. Their additional training and education gives them the right and responsibility to operate under a wider scope of practice.

What distinguishes FNPs from other NPs is the focus on providing care to families in the primary care setting. This specialty has grown because of the lack of primary care physicians in underserved communities. These nurses help fill the void in these communities by providing competent care.

As with most advanced practice nurses, you must have an ADN or BSN degree and an RN license as basic qualifications. You then need to complete a master’s or doctorate in nursing degree program with a family nurse practitioner track to get you started in this field.

The curriculum for this track includes subjects in advanced health assessment, pharmacology and pathophysiology. You will also study a series of holistic primary care courses. On-site and online methods of learning are often used by schools. Clinical training will reinforce the concepts learned during didactic sessions.

You can complete the whole program in two to three years. Part-time or full-time studies are offered. These nursing school programs will teach you how to assess patients, diagnose and manage acute and chronic conditions, promote health and prevent diseases. As graduates, you will be eligible to take a national certification examination to legally practice. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) awards the FNP-BC credential upon passing their exam while the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers the Family Nurse Certification.

With proper certification by a national accrediting body, you can now practice legally in hospitals, family practice clinics, community health centers, schools, and public or private health organizations. In all these settings, you are expected to focus on meeting the health care needs of families by providing direct care, health teaching and counseling.

Most states require FNPs to practice in collaboration with a doctor. You are given considerable independence under the state’s scope of nursing practice and are authorized to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications and order tests. A few states allow NPs to run an independent practice without the need for a collaborating physician. Other states are planning to provide similar rules to address the lack of primary care physicians in rural and underserved communities.

The dearth in the supply of doctors in the primary care setting will ensure great demand for FNPs in the future. Independent practice among FNPs is likewise expected to grow. If you successfully become one, you will surely receive higher salaries and greater job security than regular nurses.

According to payscale.com, nurses in this specialty earn from $70,000 to $90,000 as of 2011. Health benefits and other hefty perks are also provided. Those who choose to establish their own independent practice can potentially earn more from health care service and insurance fees.

It will be a wise move on your part to invest the time and money in pursuing your credentials in this field. The clinical independence and high earning potential make this an attractive nursing career option. As health care costs continue to rise in every setting, so will the need for a cost-effective family nurse practitioner.

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