How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

If you are interested in becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, knowing the specifics of the job, what to expect, and the most effective ways of reaching that goal will aid you tremendously in securing your FNP status and thriving in the field.

The Role of a Family Nurse Practitioner

Pursuing a job in family nursing can prove a unique and highly fulfilling career pathway. The role of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) looks a bit different than that of a Registered Nurse (RN) or Nurse Practitioner (NP). An FNP often delivers both primary and specialty care, performing routine or regular care provision and also occasionally supporting another medical staff member, physician, or surgeon.

FNP’s often work with their patients over a long period of time, and might work with multiple or all members of a household. FNP’s often focus on facilitating patients’ long-term health and preventive care.

Who Should Become an FNP?

The FNP role isn’t for everyone. It’s important to gauge your natural aptitudes, interests, and career goals to make sure pursuing a role as an FNP would make a fit.

FNP’s usually work with their patients or caseload for an extended period of time – up to many years or even for the duration of some patients’ lives. This is a different working experience than that of other types of nursing roles, which might see many different patients each week and may only work with a patient for one visit or for their single stay in the hospital. People who enjoy building long-term relationships with their patients often thrive as an FNP.

Additionally, FNP’s are often fully responsible for most care decisions and provision. FNP’s complete a master’s degree and are thus equipped to provide many types of healthcare themselves without referring to a different medical professional or physician. They operate as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) which allows them to perform functions such as prescribing medications, performing physical exams, and treating a wide variety of health needs. People who make strong FNP’s enjoy working autonomously without extensive oversight. They may not find themselves in the team-oriented settings that are more common for other types of nursing positions.

Finally, a big part of an FNP’s role includes informing and supporting patients while they make their own lifestyle and health changes over time. FNP’s usually work with patients who have strong operative capabilities and agency over their lives, habits, and healthy (or unhealthy) patterns. A good FNP is a natural coach, teacher, and motivator. They help people learn to change in ways that will benefit their health in the long term.

How to Pursue a Position as a Family Nurse Practitioner

Different pathways exist to pursue an FNP license. Depending on your current career status, becoming an FNP will require you to complete a few preliminary steps and complete a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) degree.

Educational Pathway

Though there are a few different routes to entering the field of nursing and obtaining a Registered Nurse (RN) license, many MSN-FNP degree programs will require a bachelor’s degree from a National League for Nursing (NLN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited undergraduate program. Some programs will also have certain undergraduate GPA requirements that are important to be aware of. They will also require you to hold a current RN license.

Once you’ve decided to pursue becoming an FNP, choosing an appropriate MSN-FNP degree program is an important decision. Licenses are issued by state so make sure you choose a degree program that will license you for the state in which you want to practice after completing the program. Cost, resource, time, and energy considerations are also important as you decide which degree program you’ll pursue. One significant advantage of online FNP programs is that you’d be able to continue your current nursing career with little or no interruption, lessening the financial burden and lifestyle change required to pursue the degree.

 Applying to Positions

Before taking on an FNP program, it’s strategic to look at open FNP positions in the area or field you’d like to practice and take a look at any other requirements you might run into. For instance, some FNP positions can require a certain number of years experience practicing as an RN in a different capacity to be eligible.

Some may require certain types of FNP degree programs or value certain types of residencies or clinical experience. Knowing common requirements for FNP job positions in your area can help you prepare and make you a standout candidate when the time comes to start applying to FNP jobs.

Advancing Your Career as an FNP

Once you enter the field as an FNP, the trail doesn’t end there. As with many types of nursing specialty areas, there are further specializations and studies within the practice of family nursing you can pursue by obtaining additional schooling or certifications.

If there are specific areas of care provision or focus points within your general practice areas you particularly enjoy, you can consider specializing further. For instance, some FNP’s go on to earn additional certifications in areas such as diabetes, senior health, or pain management. Earning these types of certifications can increase your earning power and help you focus your work on the areas that most interest you.

Pursuing a career as an FNP can be significantly aided by understanding the specifics of the role and what will be required of you in order to practice in this area. Determining that your career goals and interests align with an FNP role is a first step to helping you enter a long-lasting and rewarding nursing career.


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