What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do and How Can You Become One?


Nursing is an ever-growing profession. With the increasing demand for health and social workers, there is no shortage of jobs in the healthcare sector.

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). To become a nurse practitioner, you need to have a Master’s of Science in Nursing (known as an MSN).

As a Nurse Practitioner, you can work in either a primary care setting or a secondary care setting. You have a lot more responsibility than BSN-qualified registered nurses who are not specialized, but this is reflected in a higher earning potential.

There are several different nursing specialties that you can enter and the specialty you use will affect your specific roles and responsibilities. One of the most popular pathways that many nurse practitioners choose is family nursing.

If you’re a registered nurse who is keen on moving into an advanced, more specialized area of healthcare, becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) might be the perfect option for you.

Since you will have already studied a four-year nursing degree, you will need to take a family nurse practitioner program, which usually takes an additional two years to complete. After this point, you will be able to apply for a license to practice and obtain your first role as an FNP.

What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?

As an FNP, you will have a range of responsibilities. You provide family-focused care, meaning you treat a range of patients from young infants to elderly adults.

FNPs have the ability to work in a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals to primary care-giving facilities. You will have to be indecent and autonomous, while also working as part of a multi-disciplinary team to provide the best care possible to your patients.

As an FNP, your role entails a lot of communication and collaboration. You will be meeting new patients every day and working as part of a large team of medical professionals. You’ll need to be empathetic and caring, yet confident and able to make tough decisions.

FNPs often treat patients with long-term or chronic conditions, enabling them to create long-lasting relationships with their patients. They can treat families of all ages throughout their lifetime. It’s an extremely rewarding job that is perfect for those of your who love interacting with patients and working to improve their quality of life.

As an FNP, you will be diagnosing health conditions using a variety of diagnostic tools, and physical examinations. You will then treat these illnesses or diseases using medications and therapies.

You may also work with families to prevent disease and provide advice on how to improve diet and lifestyle behaviors.

Here are some of the main roles and responsibilities of an FNP. You may perform a combination of these tasks during any nursing shift.

  • Physical examinations and assessments of patients Diagnosis of medical conditions
  • Creating personalized treatment plans based on patients’ unique needs
  • Working alongside a team of professionals to treat patients in a primary or secondary healthcare setting
  • Providing advice as part of preventative care
  • Prescribing medications for patients with acute and chronic illnesses
  • Ordering and interpreting lab results from diagnostic tests, such as scan and bloodwork reports
  • Assisting in minor surgeries
  • Referring patients to the appropriate medical team when necessary

Note that your specific set of duties will be unique to the specialty that you have chosen to work in.

How Can You Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

To become an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, you will need to be a registered nurse already. To practice as a registered nurse, you will already have had to pass the RN licensing exam, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Many people choose to practice as a registered nurse for a few years to gain real-life medical experience before doing further study to become a nurse practitioner.

When you choose to do further study in the nursing field, you will be able to choose a particular specialty to enter. If you choose family nursing, you will be enrolled in a family nurse practitioner program.

The exact length of time of the program will depend on the school but, generally, they are around two years long. So, including your four years studying to become a registered nurse, you will have studied a total of six years to become an FNP.

Nurse Practitioner courses can be part-time or full-time, so you are able to study even when you have other responsibilities, such as caring for children or elderly parents.

As part of the FNP program, you will study a variety of modules, including:

  • Advanced Clinical and Differential Diagnosis
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Advanced Pathophysiology and Pharmacology
  • Advanced Epidemiology and Population Health
  • Advanced Leadership Skills

You may also have some research modules and clinical placement to gain real-life, hands-on experience with patients from all different backgrounds.

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Earn?

Nurse Practitioner salaries vary depending on your location and experience level, but on average, FNPs earn between $98,000 to $110,000 annually.

When choosing where to practice, you should also consider additional factors, such as the cost of living in the local area and the benefits package or employee wellness program associated with the role.

You will find a variety of jobs in both the public and private sectors, including some in hospitals and private practices.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top five highest paying states for Family Nurse Practitioners are:

  • California – $145,970
  • New Jersey – $130,890
  • Washington – $126,480
  • New York – $126,440
  • Massachusetts – $126,050

The top five highest paying cities for Family Nurse Practitioners are all in California:

  • Vallejo-Fairfield – $188,070
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward – $177,800
  • Salinas – $155,310
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara – $153,240
  • Napa – $152,640

Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner is one of the most rewarding careers that you can enter. There are very few careers that provide the same fulfillment as nursing and you won’t regret your decision to enter the field.

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