If you currently work as a nurse and would like to move onto an advanced degree and treat the full range of patient populations, you may want to consider becoming a family nurse practitioner. FNPs can earn a higher salary, operate with independence, and enjoy higher levels of respect and job satisfaction from both the community and health professionals.
To help make up your mind, here is the ultimate guide on how to become a family nurse practitioner and what the role entails.
What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who operates autonomously or with other healthcare specialists to provide family-focused care. FNPs are responsible for developing treatment plans for patients, conducting exams, prescribing medications, and performing diagnostic tests. A family nurse practitioner must also educate and guide their patients on healthy lifestyle habits and how to prevent diseases.
Skills and Attributes
To flourish as a family nurse practitioner, there are numerous key skills and attributes you will need to possess. FNPs must be excellent communicators, have compassion and empathy for their patients, as well as know how to work well under pressure. While many FNPs work independently, there are some who work alongside other healthcare specialists, which is why teamwork is a crucial skill. For your patients to receive the best care possible, you must have excellent attention to detail and listen to their worries and concerns.
Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
If you’re aspiring to become a family nurse practitioner, your first step is to train as a registered nurse. To achieve this, you will need to complete a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program. This course provides a mixture of classroom learning and supervised clinical experience. Throughout your time as a registered nurse, you will learn a plethora of skills that can set you up for a successful career as an FNP. Common courses that you pick from for your nursing degree program include patient health assessment and pathophysiology.
To become an FNP you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination. A family nurse practitioner will be responsible for prescribing medication or drugs, which you will also need to obtain licensure for. The requirements for prescriptive authority and licensure vary from state to state, and you may need to have studied certain courses like pharmacology.
There are lots of nursing graduate courses which promote or require students to possess at least one year of experience operating as an RN. You can gain work experience at a variety of establishments, like a hospital, private practice, or nursing home. You may need to gain experience working with several kinds of patients, like seniors, pregnant women, and children who you will later treat as an FNP.
Enroll in a Master’s Degree Program
There is the option to study for a master’s degree program that will provide you with the credentials needed to work as a family nurse practitioner. A post masters FNP will teach you core units and skills that are mandatory in an FNP position. The program normally takes between one and three years to finish. However, this will depend on your provider and previous education. FNP programs combine clinical experience and didactic learning, with a heavy importance on learning advanced clinical skills.
Apply for Certification
Once you have graduated from your FNP graduate program, there are family nurse practitioner board certification examinations that you will be eligible to take. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, obtaining professional credentials is often required for state licensing. To qualify for certification, you must possess a valid registered nurse license and attain 500 hours of supervised clinical practice. To maintain your certification, you will need to accumulate a minimum of 1,000 practice hours as an FNP, with an additional 75 hours of certified continuing education training.
Consider Advancement Opportunities
For students who would like to advance in the family nurse practitioner field, there is the option to become a teacher. Nursing doctoral courses are available for advanced practice nurses who are interested in enhancing their clinical skills or want to prepare for a position in nursing administration or research.
If you like the idea of treating patients of all ages, working in a variety of geographical areas, and earning a higher salary than a registered nurse, becoming a family nurse practitioner may be the right position for you. To qualify and succeed as an FNP, it’s vital that you follow the steps above, and possess the mandatory skills and credentials.