Let’s start with the meaning of ‘FNP’. This simply means a Family nurse practitioners.
What is a Family nurse practitioners
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses with specialized graduate educations who gives primary health care services to people of all ages.
With a main focus on health promotion and health education, Family nurse practitioners fill a crucial role in the health care system and gives patient care to people of diverse ages and backgrounds – often the underserved.
Family nurse practitioners gives services for individuals and families throughout their lifespan. This can be especially rewarding for those who enjoy developing long-term relationships and getting to know people over time. FNPs can have rewarding careers professionally, personally, and financially.
What Do Family Nurse Practitioners Do
Being a Family Nurse Practitioner is all about delivering good family-focused care. That means that they’ll care for patients ranging from infants to the elderly and every age in between.
The healthcare services that an FNP gives are multifaceted and always patient-facing. In addition to treating illness and injuries, it also offers the opportunity to teach people about healthy lifestyle habits and disease prevention.
FNPs are frequently the primary care provider for families, which means that they will not only diagnose conditions, but also treat them.
FNPs perform physical exams, order diagnostic tests and procedures, diagnose and treat illness, prescribe needed medications, and teach their patients how to develop healthy lifestyles to promote health and prevent disease.
As an Family nurse practitioners your duties may include:
- Assessment and diagnosis of health conditions
- Conducting routine physicals
- Developing and carrying out treatment plans for acute and chronic illnesses
- Providing primary health care with an emphasis on preventative care
- Prescribing medications and other therapies
- Ordering and interpreting lab and other diagnostic tests
- Assisting in minor surgeries
- Making appropriate referrals when needed
FNPs must be able to work independently as well as able to collaborate with others on the healthcare team. Having strong communication skills and an empathetic nature are also helpful characteristics.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner requires a commitment of time and resources, taking 8 to 10 years for many nurses, but it is an investment in your future that will reward you in many different ways. Though the path to becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner can vary depending upon whether you choose to pursue your degree full time or part-time, in person or online, for most people the journey will follow these steps:
- Earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing or your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Degree – 4-5 years
- Get licensed as a Registered Nurse
- Gain invaluable clinical experience working as a Registered Nurse – 2-3 years
- Obtain your Master’s Degree in Nursing or your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)– 2-3 years
- Become certified as an FNP by passing the certification exam from either the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Depending on which certification board you go through, you’ll earn either the FNP-BC certification or the FNP-C certification.
STEP ONE: Become an RN
In order to become a nurse, your first step is to pursue a four-year college or university program accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the National League for Nursing (NLN). Though some nurses earn their degrees in other disciplines and some choose to become a nurse by earning a two-year Associate Degree in Nursing, the nursing profession is steadily moving towards a goal of having 80% of Registered Nurses BSN degreed by 2020. For more information on becoming an RN, see our RN Career Guide. And for more information on getting your bachelor’s degree in nursing, check out our BSN degree guide.
STEP TWO: Get Licensed as a Registered Nurse
In order to get your license as a Registered Nurse, you need to pass the RN licensing exam known as the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). The NCLEX is a nationwide examination for the licensing of nurses in the United States and Canada.
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STEP THREE: Begin Working as a Registered Nurse
Upon becoming licensed, most nurses work for a few years, gaining valuable experience in providing care for patients. For those interested in becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, this is the time where you can gain exposure to a diverse range of patients, and can focus on becoming familiar with cradle-to-grave care.
STEP FOUR: Earn Your MSN or DNP
Both Master’s and Doctorate degree FNP programs are available through accredited colleges and universities.
Most offer both full-time and part-time degree programs, and many offer the option of taking classes in traditional campus settings or online. Nusing programs that prepare you for the FNP role will include courses in the following:
- Advanced Clinical Diagnosis and Practice across the Lifespan
- Advanced Health Assessment
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Differential Diagnosis and Primary Care
- Leadership and Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse
- Population Health
- Primary Care of Childbearing and Practicum
Programs will include both classroom didactic learning and hands-on patient clinical learning.
STEP FIVE: Become Certified in Family Practice
In order to become a certified Family Nurse Practitioner, you need to become certified by earning either your FNP-C or FNP-BC certification. Your state board of nursing may have a preference, so it is a good idea to check with them beforehand. The FNP-BC examination is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center while the FNP-C examination is offered by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board.
FNP Certification Requirements
FNP certification exams are conducted online. No matter which you take, you must have:
- A current, active RN license in a state or territory of the U.S. or the equivalent in another country
- A Master’s, postgraduate, or doctoral degree from a family nurse practitioner program accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
- At least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours and completion of comprehensive graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/ pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology
Recertification is required every five years. You are also required to maintain an active registered nurse license with your state board of nursing according to its requirements for practice and continuing education.
Our Continuing Education Guide can provide information regarding each state’s requirements for renewing RN licensure.
Regarding recertification, your certifying organization has specific requirements for renewal, so be sure you’re on top of those, as well as prepared to pay any fees. Both the AANC and AANP require a certain number of clinical practice hours and CE credits. Become familiar with these requirements well before your recertification is due.
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