Choosing a career path is never easy, especially in the medical field. There are so many different options and the amount of education you’ll need for each role varies widely. But for those who want to gain autonomy, good earning potential, and the opportunity to really help patients, becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP) could be an excellent choice.
The demand for FNPs is growing quickly, with a 45% increase projected between 2020 and 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With many primary care physicians booking out far in advance due to large patient rosters, these skilled and trained medical professionals help ease the burden on doctors and help patients get the help they need quickly.
Career Opportunities and Salary Information
Choosing to become an FNP in 2022 is a smart career move. Everyone needs healthcare and the strains placed on MDs specializing in internal medicine are growing. Nurse practitioners are quickly stepping up to help patients with their general health needs.
There are more opportunities than ever for those who become nurse practitioners. Many NPs work in group practices and hospital outpatient clinics, allowing for choices in which populations they want to serve the most.
Salaries are attractive for NPs, especially those with extensive experience. The median pay for nurse practitioners in 2020 was around $117,000 per year. RNs who want to increase their earning potential may want to consider becoming an FNP.
Transitioning from an RN to an FNP Career
Many nurses choose to advance their education after working as an RN for several years and gaining experience. Others want to pursue an advanced career path right away. An RN to FNP program will prepare you for a job as a family nurse practitioner, whether you’ve been a nurse for years or you just earned your licensure.
It’s common for nurses to find the idea of applying for an FNP program intimidating, as it means more studying, clinical practice, and licensure exams. But most RNs who transition to an FNP career find that their new role is well worth the effort. Becoming a nurse practitioner in 2022 offers many benefits, including career freedom, job security, increased earnings, and the opportunity to help patients take control of their health.
What is the Role of a Family Nurse Practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner is responsible for many of the same duties as a family doctor. They can perform exams and order diagnostic testing. They can also make diagnoses and provide treatment without the patient needing to see an MD.
Some states require nurse practitioners to prescribe medication only under the supervision of a physician. However, others allow NPs to prescribe with more autonomy.
Overall, being an FNP is very similar to being a doctor. FNPs are considered to be advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) who can provide general healthcare services and earn further certifications in specific practice areas if they wish.
Benefits of Becoming an FNP
One of the benefits of pursuing an FNP over becoming a doctor is the difference in educational requirements. NPs do not have to go through the grueling process of medical school, although they still face rigorous training.
FNPs can earn an attractive salary as they gain experience, far higher than average nursing salaries. But for many FNPs, the biggest benefit of becoming an APRN is the chance to positively impact the lives of their patients. NPs can involve patients in their own health and provide direct advice to help people live healthier lives. Most NPs find great fulfillment in helping people improve their overall health and enjoy the autonomy that comes with the role.
Education & Certifications Required For FNPs
In the medical field, safety must always be the top priority. Medical doctors (MD) typically attend 4 years of medical school after earning their undergraduate degree. Once they have completed medical school and passed their licensure boards, new doctors must complete a residency, which usually lasts for about three years.
While this process ensures that doctors are well-prepared for the demands of the field, it is a path that not everyone wants to follow, even if they have the potential to be excellent healthcare providers. Although the path to becoming an NP is challenging, it is less demanding than the academic requirements for doctors.
Nurse practitioners must start as registered nurses. After passing the licensure exams, RNs can apply for a graduate program designed for FNPs. These programs will include both a classroom component and practical learning in a clinical setting. Most FNP programs can be completed in two years, making this a much quicker path to helping patients than becoming an MD.
After graduation, new NPs must pass licensure exams, to ensure that they are prepared to offer safe, quality care to patients. The standards for NPs are high as they are providing many of the same services as doctors and must have impeccable skills, knowledge, and ethics.