Family nurse practitioners play an increasingly significant role in healthcare. If you are a registered nurse and seek a shift in your career, perhaps with an eye toward specializing your skillset, you should consider obtaining a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a focus on Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP). The FNP role requires graduate studies, and this allows for excellent career mobility and working in specific patient demographics in a wide range of clinical settings.

A lot of registered nurses enjoy their time in graduate programs because they get to acquire new clinical skills and begin working more independently than before. Some key differences between RNs and FNPs are those family nurse practitioners can prescribe medication and draw up their own treatment plans. 

If you want to discover more about becoming a family nurse practitioner, keep reading to find out more about what you can expect in the FNP role.

What Is FNP, Exactly? 

An FNP is an advanced practice nurse trained and licensed according to very strict national standards. While all registered nurses assess patients and provide treatments according to a medical doctor’s plan, FNPs are able to diagnose, write primary care plans, and provide the required treatments. In addition to writing prescriptions and being a patient’s point of contact for care, family nurse practitioners can also write referrals to medical specialists. 

What is the Family Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice?

Becoming a family nurse practitioner is an attractive career choice because of the scope of practice. FNPs treat specific patient demographics and can provide medical care in settings ranging from outpatient clinics to urgent care centers, looking after patients with needs in diabetes management, pediatric acute care, or women’s health. FNPs can feel confident that their graduate school program and clinical hours provide them with a strong foundation as a clinician for specific types of patients and health conditions.

FNPs are able to carry out procedures ranging from wound care and sutures to advanced procedures in women’s health. For example, a family nurse practitioner specializing in women’s reproductive health will learn how to give pap smears and perform family planning methods, such as placing birth control devices. 

In addition to preventive health and patient screening in outpatient settings, the family nurse practitioner role includes quite a bit of patient education. The teaching component can be a very rewarding part of the FNP role, as guiding patients gives nurses a chance to connect with them and make a crucial difference in their patients’ lives. 

It is not uncommon for FNPs to co-manage patients with a physician. However, the family nurse practitioner’s scope of practice means that they get to take the lead in most aspects of the assessment and treatment processes, asking for the physician’s input less than a registered nurse would be required to.

How Do I Become FNP?  

If you have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, you have probably met the requirements to begin your journey toward an MSN-FNP. Nurses have a few options when it comes to completing their MSN beyond the traditional classroom format. RNs with children or who work full-time will be happy to learn that online graduate programs provide a lot of flexibility. Thanks to advances in technology, courses can be completed on-the-go and students still find that they can connect with peers and professors in the digital classroom.

An MSN-FNP typically takes three years to complete. Graduate students can also expect to complete at least 500 clinical hours. It’s very common for nurses’ work hours to count toward their clinicals, which are crucial for gaining competency in advanced skills.

Graduate students working toward an FNP license will sign up for board exams after completing coursework and clinical hours, either through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nursing Practitioners (AANP). It is very important to check FNP licensing requirements in the state you plan to practice in, along with how often you will have to renew your license.

Upon passing your exam, you will be a licensed family nurse practitioner!

Being a Family Nurse Practitioner Is a Great Job

Obtaining a family nurse practitioner license comes with many new opportunities. Training and an MSN degree give nurses a solid knowledge base to work in a variety of patient populations, from focusing on women’s health to geriatric nursing among elderly patients.   

You will want to know that the job outlook for family nurse practitioners is expected to see an expected growth of 26 percent over the next decade. This is due to expecting a stronger emphasis on preventative healthcare and the needs for an aging population.

If you are considering becoming a family nurse practitioner, consider one of the best colleges for nursing school. You can begin an online MSN-FNP program from Chamberlain University and begin a new path!

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