Nursing practice or nursing is a noble profession for people to serve mankind in need and in distress.
Nursing practitioners (NP) and nurses form the pillar of any country’s healthcare system, making up about one-third of the entire health workforce.
There is a significant shortage of effective primary health care and access to basic healthcare services for millions of people, especially the poorest.
It is very evident that nurse practitioners are in great demand. At the same time, people who choose the noble profession of nursing also look at their career advancement options.
Nurses with a basic degree in nursing practice can move on to an advanced degree and specialize, like other professions, as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), among other options.
FNPs provide a full range of advanced and personalized services to patients, from infants to the elderly.
One may ask: “Is becoming a family nurse practitioner worth it?”
Let’s first understand what a family nurse practitioner is and what an FNP’s role is before covering if becoming an FNP is worth it.
What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
In order to understand this profession, we have to begin with understanding what a family nurse practitioner is.
FNPs are registered nursing practitioners with a specialized master’s education and advanced knowledge in nursing practice. They are certified higher-level nurses that provide primary, specialty, and advanced health care for patients of all ages.
With further knowledge in health education and with a focus on health care promotion and support, family nurse practitioners fill a crucial gap in the healthcare system to meet the shortage of medical professionals.
An FNP provides advanced nursing services for individuals and families of diverse ages and backgrounds, often the underprivileged, throughout their lifespan.
This is a win-win for both the FNPs and their patients.
It is especially rewarding for those people who have chosen to serve their community and who enjoy developing long-term relationships with people over time.
The people and families attached to an FNP also develop confidence in FNPs, feel safer and lead a healthy life.
FNPs have a gratifying career professionally, and personally, that is financially rewarding also. FNPs have a high degree of autonomy and, in some cases, have their own private practices.
They provide most of the basic services a family doctor provides and are the primary first point of care for many patients.
Family Nurse Practitioner’s Package
FNPs have a more advanced education than registered practicing nurses and command higher packages/salaries.
According to a recent survey, the average salary of a new family nurse practitioner is typically above $100,000 per year, and the maximum can be twice that or more.
Normally, FNPs make 1.2 to 1.5 times more than registered nursing professionals. FNP salaries are based on geographical location, type of employer, and level of experience.
Savvy FNPs who wish to go into private practice can develop lucrative private practices as FNPs with professional advice from accountants and legal professionals.
Family nurse practitioners, depending on the country or state legislations and practice guidelines, enjoy varying degrees of autonomy.
The overall autonomy of family nurse practitioners far exceeds that of registered nurses, allowing them to provide complete care to patients by diagnosing and treating them in supportive and flexible work environments.
Overall, family nurse practitioners enjoy high levels of job satisfaction within the profession and provide medical care at a lower cost.
What Is the Role of FNPs?
Family nurse practitioners play many diverse roles and have responsibilities toward the patients under their care.
These are the nurse practitioners who are certified to operate with autonomy and independence. They earn significantly higher incomes and enjoy high levels of job satisfaction and respect from other health professionals.
A family nurse practitioner provides family-focused nursing care. They are frequently the primary health care provider for families, which means that they will not only diagnose conditions of family members but also may treat them.
Family care means that they take care of patients ranging in age from infants to the elderly and every age in between in the family.
The healthcare services that an FNP provides are multifaceted, from sickness to injuries or simply age-related, and are always patient-centric.
An FNP also offers knowledge to families, and society at large, about personal care and hygiene, a healthy lifestyle, good and bad habits, and disease prevention.
FNPs provide a second line of medical care. In addition to nursing care provided by NPs, such as assisting doctors in treating their patients, dressing, and administering doctor-prescribed medications, FNPs can perform some of the doctor’s roles.
They can perform physical examinations of the sick, order diagnostic tests and procedures, diagnose disease, provide treatment for sickness and prescribe needed medications.
They educate their patients about developing healthy lifestyles to promote health and prevent disease.
The role of FNPs, over and above NPs, may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Provide primary health care and education about preventative care
- Maintain patient records
- Examine the medical history of patients
- Assess health conditions and provide diagnosis
- Conduct physical examinations
- Order and interpret lab and other diagnostic tests
- Diagnose illnesses or diseases
- Develop and follow up on treatment plans for acute and chronic illnesses
- Prescribe/administer medication and other therapies
- Perform or assist with minor procedures
- Refer to appropriate practitioners/specialists when needed
- Educate patients on preventive methods, general health, hygiene, and wellness
- Manage and oversee patient care
- Act as the primary point of contact to provide primary care in rural or underserved areas
- Cooperate with other healthcare providers, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, psychologists, and healthcare administrators
The role of a family nurse practitioner is very similar to that of a primary health care physician. FNPs are able to work independently as well as able to collaborate with medical professionals and all others in the healthcare team.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
To become a family nurse practitioner, one needs to invest money and commit time to go through extensive educational training.
It is an investment worth itself that will reward you in many different ways. It may take up to eight years to become an FNP.
The time required to become a family nurse practitioner can vary depending upon the path taken to pursue the degree, such as full-time or part-time, and in person or online.
NPs with years of experience are ideal candidates to become family nurse practitioners.
After earning a four-to-five year bachelor’s degree in nursing practice through a program that is duly accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) or the National League for Nursing (NLN) or another authorized agency for nursing education, one should become licensed as a registered nurse or nursing practitioner by the appropriate agency.
Registered nursing practitioners can then start working and gain two to three years of clinical experience in providing care for patients.
After gaining experience in handling people from the cradle to the grave, a two- to three-year master’s degree in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is required from an institution accredited for the Family Nursing Practitioner program.
The program can be a full-time or a part-time degree program, and students can take classes in traditional campus settings or online, which often includes both classroom learning and hands-on patient clinical learning.
There are many accredited schools of nursing and universities offering accredited master’s programs that can help you in meeting your career goals to become a family nurse practitioner.
The list of schools and universities offering FNP accredited master’s programs, or the equivalent, can be easily found online.
Making the decision to enroll in a master’s program is a critical decision, so make sure that any university you select is accredited by the appropriate councils or other regulatory bodies.
To become certified as an FNP after earning a master’s degree, one has to pass the FNP certification exam held by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), or the equivalent authorized agency in other countries.
You will receive either an FNP-BC certification or the FNP-C certification (or other certification), depending on the exam you pass.
The eligibility for these certifications requires, in addition to the above experience and qualifications, a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience. The certificate also requires ratification after a specified number of years.
FNPs typically study a variety of courses in epidemiology, pharmacology, health policy, differential diagnosis, and primary care, clinical diagnosis, and more due to the broad nature of the job.
In addition to formal qualifications and experience, FNPs should have skills in the following:
- Strong communication skills (oral and written) and an empathetic nature
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence
- Experience in managing health records electronically
- Ability to work effectively in a team setting, providing relationship-based care
- Ability to establish relationships with co-workers, patients, and the public
Family Nurse Practitioner Jobs
A family nurse practitioner can work in a variety of healthcare settings and clinics. As they provide many advanced medical services, they are extremely valuable as they are able to perform several tasks that are usually handled by physicians.
In fact, in many rural areas, if there is a shortage of doctors to serve the community, FNPs can fill the gap and provide primary care. A hospital administrator is another possible career for FNPs due to their advanced medical knowledge and clinical experience.
As FNPs have advanced nursing practice qualifications and licenses, they find career opportunities in a variety of settings, including:
- Community health
- Correctional facilities
- Government sector
- Home health care
- Nursing homes
- Health insurance companies
- Long-term care facilities
- Nurse-managed health care
- Outpatient care
- Private practice physicians’ clinic
- School clinics
- Urgent care
Family Nurse Practitioners are in demand for jobs in administration, making policy, and education, in addition to working directly with patients to offer treatment.
Notably, because nurse practitioners have the freedom to practice independently in many states, they have been able to close the huge care gap for patients in rural areas that is caused by the acute physician shortage.
In some communities, family nurse practitioners have stepped in to deliver crucial preventative care.
Is Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner Worth It?
Having learned all about the family nurse practitioner, we come to the most important question that comes to everyone’s mind, “Is becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner worth it?” We can say, yes, it is.
Here are some of the top benefits of being an FNP:
Family nurse practitioners are in demand.
In the last few years, every country has experienced a shortage of primary nursing care, especially in rural areas.
Adding to the shortage is the fact that a large number of registered nurses with experience are moving to higher qualifications and becoming FNPs. In the US alone, there has been an increase in the demand for FNPs.
The demand is projected to grow by 52% between 2019 and 2029, and FNPs will be highly sought after. FNPs are in high demand as healthcare practitioners because of the growing emphasis on preventative care and the aging population’s increased demand for medical services.
It is a fulfilling career choice because of the compensation and the opportunity to form lifelong ties with patients.
Family nurse practitioners enjoy significant financial advantages.
Family nurse practitioners offer primary, acute, and specialized healthcare as advanced clinicians.
The knowledge and clinical competencies of NPs are superior to those of ADN- or BSN-prepared nurses since they have graduate-level education through either a master’s or doctoral degree. Significant pay inequalities result from variations in educational readiness.
FNPs provide safe, effective, patient-centric, and evidence-based care compared to their physician colleagues, and they are in the right position to fulfill any gap left in the healthcare industry because of the shortage of primary care physicians.
Additionally, FNPs are licensed, independent care providers that make up the most rapidly growing component of the primary care workforce.
In some countries, more than 80% of nursing practitioners are family nurse practitioners who provide high-quality, cost-effective primary care.
A career as an FNP provides a satisfying work-life balance and offers room for career advancement.
The top advantages of being a family nurse practitioner include high demand, high pay, and high levels of autonomy and job satisfaction.