According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), 62% of all nurse practitioners are Family Nurse Practitioners.
Why are so many nurses choosing this particular area of advanced nursing over other nursing career options?
It could be because of the high level of job satisfaction that comes with being an FNP.
Or maybe it’s because of the generous salary. The average wage for a Family Nurse Practitioner in the United States is $110,076.
It could even be because of the fact that FNPs can enjoy nearly all the same responsibilities as a doctor or physician but with the added benefit of being able to build long-lasting, quality relationships with their patients.
Whatever it is, there must be something that is convincing all these nurses to undertake an advanced nursing degree, such as a DNP, and become a qualified Family Nurse Practitioner.
If you are thinking about training to become an FNP, but you are not 100% sure whether this is the right career for you, then keep reading to find out everything you need to know about becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner.
From uncovering what your day to day responsibilities would be to what qualifications you need, and where you would be working, all of this and more are covered below.
What is an FNP?
An FNP, Family Nurse Practitioner, is a registered nurse that has undergone specialized educational and clinical training within family practice. A natural career progression for a registered nurse, as a FNP, you may work under a physician or, depending on the state that you live in, you may be allowed to work independently.
Family Nurse Practitioners work with both children and adults, more often than not within a family practice or clinical setting. You will be helping patients with their long-term health and overall wellbeing, with a focus on preventative care.
Many FNPs choose to work in underserved communities, although once qualified, you can choose which type of practice and community you think is best suited to your skills and personality.
The day to day working life of a qualified Family Nurse Practitioner is a varied one, and you are highly unlikely to become bored. Some of your key duties and responsibilities may include:
- The management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension
- The treatment of minor acute injuries and illnesses such as sprains and the flu
- Providing healthcare to patients of all ages, from infants through to the elderly
- Carrying out health assessments and physical examinations
- Overseeing women’s health requirements such as prenatal care
- Educating patients about health and wellness with a focus on preventative measures
- Ordering and interesting diagnostic tests
- Prescribing medications
- Admitting patients to hospital when necessary
What Skills and Attributes Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Need?
If you are currently working as a registered nurse, you are likely to already have many of the soft skills needed in order to thrive as an FNP.
That being said, there is always room for personal growth when it comes to career progression. You may want to work on improving your skillset as you study to become a qualified Family Nurse Practitioner.
The key skills needed to become a successful FNP include:
- Clinical skills
- Communication skills
- Collaborative skills
- Listening skills
- Time Management skills
- Organizational skills
- Leadership skills
- Analytical skills
- The ability to work well under pressure
- The ability to cope with stress
- Strong ethics
- A commitment to development
Don’t worry if you don’t feel that you currently have all of the above skills; many will be taught and improved upon as you carry out your DNP degree program (more information about which you can find below).
What Qualification Do You Need to Become an FNP?
If you are reading this article, then you are already one step closer to becoming an FNP. The next step, however, is to look into what qualifications you need to become a fully trained Family Nurse Practitioner.
Depending on where you are in your nursing career at the moment, there are several different routes that you can take to become a qualified FNP.
If you are new to nursing, you will need to first pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree that is specifically designed to fast track your path to a graduate nursing program.
However, if you already have a bachelor’s degree, but it is in a different field, you could choose to undertake an accelerated BSN program that can help you qualify for nursing in under two years.
If you are already working as a registered nurse and you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, then your next step is to undertake a DNP, Doctor of Nursing Practice, degree. Although some nurses may choose to obtain a Master’s in Nursing rather than a DNP, if you want to dramatically increase your knowledge surrounding family practice nursing and ensure you are as employable as possible, a DNP is the better option for you.
A DNP – FNP will not only include specific FNP-related courses and practicums, but it will also cover topics that will help you improve upon your leadership skills such as data management, planning, decision-making, performance measurement, and healthcare policies.
Should I Undertake a DNP On-Campus or Online?
If you are worried about how you are going to complete a degree program while still working as a registered nurse, you should know that there many online universities that offer 100% online DNP degree programs that you can effectively carry out around your current work and family commitments.
In fact, there are many advantages to choosing an online DNP degree program over an on-campus one. These include:
- Enhanced flexibility: You can study whenever you want and wherever you want to.
- More cost-effective: Not only can the initial cost of online degrees be cheaper than on-campus ones, but you will also save money on commuting and childcare costs if applicable.
- High-quality learning & career outcomes: You can enjoy the same level of teaching expertise and experience, whether you study online or in a classroom. You just need to ensure that you choose a leading online university with proven results.
- Unlimited access to faculty: If you are worried that you will not have enough support from your tutors online, then you will be pleased to know that you can enjoy just as much, if not more, access to guidance, advice, and support from the faculty when you choose an online DNP degree program.
- You can continue working: One of the best aspects of not studying in a classroom is that you don’t need to quit or take a sabbatical from work in order to complete your course.
- Access to a supportive online community: You can enjoy support from both your peers and your tutors without having to leave the confines of your own home. Plus, you can make valuable connections for the future.
How Much Can You Earn as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Although money isn’t everything, if you are going to work in a high pressured and highly stressed industry such as the healthcare sector, it can help to know that you are getting financially rewarded for doing so.
Fortunately, if you are looking to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, you will be able to enjoy a good salary with the average FNP earning $110,076 per year. Compared to the average salary of a registered nurse in the United States that is $80,080, with some RNs earning as little as $57,550, this is a substantial pay rise.
What is the Job Outlook for a Family Nurse Practitioner?
If you are worried about job security, then you will be pleased to know that the role of an FNP is very much in demand at the moment. The United States is currently experiencing a shortage in both registered physicians and nurse practitioners, so there has never been a time when FNPs have been needed more. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 53,000 new nurse practitioner jobs will be created by 2028. That represents an employment growth rate of a whopping 28%.
Where do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?
Whether you are looking for a varied working environment or you prefer to work in one place, you will be able to find the perfect FNP role for you.
Family Nurse Practitioners can work in:
- Physician’s offices
- Outpatient Care Centers
- Colleges, universities and schools
- Other health practitioner’s offices
- Home health centers
- Community health centers
- Private practices
- Emergency rooms
What are the Working hours of an FNP?
Although this will be dependent on the setting that you work in, typically, an FNP working within a private clinic or practice will work traditional 9-5 work hours from Monday through until Friday. However, if you work in an urgent care clinic, you may have to work later hours and/or at weekends.
If you choose to work in a school setting, you are likely to work traditional school hours from 8.30am to 3.30am, Monday to Friday, making this a good option for those who are wanting to work around their childcare commitments.
Why Become an FNP?
If you are still not sure about whether this particular advanced nursing career is for you, you may want to check out the benefits of becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner in the United States:
- The role of an NP has been recently ranked as the #5 of the 100 Best Jobs of 2020 by the U.S News & World Report.
- You can enjoy more freedom than being a registered nurse with the ability to prescribe medication, diagnose patients, and perform physical examinations.
- You can be autonomous. In many states across the U.S, FNPs are able to work completely independently, as in without a trained physician.
- You can enjoy a high salary and greater career prospects.
- You can work in a more leadership-focused role
- You can enjoy flexibility in terms of your working environment
- The ability to provide primary and/or preventive care
- The ability to make a difference in the community that you serve
What is the Difference Between Becoming a family Doctor and a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Although there are a lot of similarities between the role of a doctor and the position of a Family Nurse Practitioner, there are a few key differences. The main being the amount of studying that you need to undertake before you can qualify.
Family physicians are required to have a Doctor of Medicine in order to practice, and this degree takes on average of 11 years to complete. However, to become an FNP, you need to have a BSN and either a Master’s in Nursing or a DNP. Combined, these advanced nursing degree programs take between 5-6 years to complete.
That being said, in 22 states in the U.S, Family Nurse Practitioners are able to work independently and carry out the exact same duties as a physician.
Whether you are a registered nurse who is keen to progress in your career and you think that the diverse role of a Family Nurse Practitioner is the job for you, or you are just starting off in your nursing career and see becoming an FNP as your end goal, there has never been a better time to follow this particular career path in the United States.
A combination of an aging population and a shortage of qualified physicians and nurse practitioners has made this role more in demand than ever before, offering you the chance to not only enjoy enhanced job security and a higher salary but also the opportunity to help people in your local community.
You can give something back and really make a difference.
If this sounds like something you would like to do, then why not start your journey to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner today? Whether you need to start at the beginning and study for a BSN degree or you are ready to take on the challenge of a DNP, don’t put off your dream for another second.