In the medical field, deciding which career path to pursue can be a challenging process. There is a wide range of options available, and the level of education required for each role varies considerably. However, if you are interested in gaining autonomy, earning a good living, and positively impacting others’ lives, then becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP) might be a great option.
Rural areas throughout the country currently have a growing aging population facing difficulty receiving the care they require when needed. AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) estimates there may be a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025. As a result of these factors, there is an increased need for qualified family nurses.
In this article, we will discuss the career outlook, key responsibilities of a family nurse practitioner, and the benefits of this profession.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
To become a Family Nurse Practitioner, you will need to complete the following steps:
- Pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). The NCLEX-RN is a standardized test that assesses your knowledge and skills as a nurse. You can also pursue an online RN program because it offers more flexibility.
- Obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited program. This typically takes four years and includes classroom instruction, laboratory work, and clinical experience. Students will learn about nursing theory, patient care, health assessment, and more.
- Obtain a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a focus on FNP from an accredited program. MSN programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework, clinical experience, and a research project. An online program can allow you to complete your MSN at your own pace, with the ability to view lectures, take exams, and participate in online discussions and clinical simulations.
- Pass the certification exam for FNP, such as the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) or AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) certification exam. These certifications are essential for gaining recognition and credibility as a family nurse practitioner.
- Obtain state licensure. Each state has its own licensing requirements for FNPs, and you must pass an exam and meet other requirements to become licensed in your state.
- Maintain certification and licensure through continuing education and re-certification. You may need to pass a re-certification exam every few years to demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills required to practice as a family nurse practitioner.
What Does A Family Nurse Practitioner Do?
As a Family Nurse Practitioner, you are responsible for providing a wide range of primary care services to patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly. Your role is to assess, diagnose and treat patients for various common illnesses, injuries, and chronic conditions. The following are some of the specific tasks you may be required to perform:
- Conducting physical exams and taking patient histories
- Ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, such as lab work and imaging studies
- Diagnosing and treating common illnesses, such as colds, flu, and infections
- Managing chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma
- Prescribing medications and other treatments
- Educating patients about healthy lifestyle choices, such as diet and exercise
- Providing preventive care services, such as immunizations and health screenings
- Coordinating care with other healthcare providers, such as specialists or physical therapists
- Keeping detailed records of patient encounters and treatments
As a family nurse practitioner, you may work in a variety of settings, such as:
- Private practices
- Community health centers
- Long-term care facilities
Besides that, FNPs also play a significant role in patient education, advocacy, and research. Furthermore, depending on state laws, they may also have the opportunity to open their own independent practice.
The Employment and Salary Outlook of an FNP
The career prospects for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are highly favorable. The demand for FNPs is expected to grow significantly in the coming years due to several factors, including an aging population, an increased focus on preventive care, and a shortage of primary care physicians.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nurse practitioners, including FNPs, is projected to grow by 40% from 2021 to 2031, a rate significantly higher than the national average.
In addition to strong job growth, FNPs also enjoy competitive salaries. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners was $123,780 as of 2021.
The Challenges and Rewards Associated With Becoming an FNP
Pursuing a career as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) can be challenging but also rewarding. One of the primary challenges is passing the certification examination and acquiring a state license that demonstrates your professional competency and commitment to providing quality care. Furthermore, FNPs must stay current with new developments in the healthcare industry in order to provide the best possible care for their patients. Another challenge FNPs may encounter is balancing patient care with administrative duties.
However, the rewards of becoming an FNP are numerous. FNPs are granted autonomy in their practice and can make independent clinical decisions. Furthermore, FNPs can have a direct and positive impact on the lives of their patients, which can lead to a high level of job satisfaction. FNPs are also among the highest-paid nursing professions and are in high demand. Moreover, FNPs are highly respected professionals who can provide valuable and meaningful contributions to the healthcare system.
The Bottom Line
In today’s healthcare industry, family nurse practitioners play a crucial role. Their contributions are essential in ensuring quality and cost-effective care for all patients. From initial diagnosis and treatments to managing chronic health issues, family nurse practitioners provide a wide range of services vital to the health and well-being of individuals and families.
As primary care physicians have evolved their responsibilities, FNPs have acquired additional opportunities, authority, and autonomy. This has allowed them to take on a larger role in the primary care setting, enabling them to provide more comprehensive patient care. As a result, the job outlook for nurse practitioners is quite positive.