Family Nurse Practitioner

What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family Nurse Practitioners, often referred to as FNPs, are highly educated advanced practice nurses who generally work under the supervision of a physician to deliver a range of chronic, acute, and preventative healthcare services to both children and adults in the context of a family practice or clinical setting. However, due to the recent shortage of physicians, more and more states have been allowing FNPs to work independently, especially in the realm of family practice. Since FNPs have a graduate-level education and have undergone extensive clinical training in family medicine, they are qualified to diagnose and treat illness as well as provide preventative care to patients with a wide variety of backgrounds. Their advanced education and training also may qualify them to serve as clinic or hospital administrators or policymakers. In addition to diagnosing and treating illness, FNPs also conduct health exams, provide preventative care and health education, and prescribe medication, among a wide variety of other tasks.

What Are Some Family Nurse Practitioner Duties?

Some of the duties performed by family nurse practitioners include the following:

  • Perform medical examinations, diagnostic tests, and screening evaluations
  • Develop and implement treatment plans for both acute and chronic illnesses
  • Take patients' medical histories
  • Educate patients on disease prevention techniques and healthy lifestyle habits
  • Prescribe or administer medication
  • Diagnose diseases or illnesses
  • Manage patient care
  • Keep meticulous patient records
  • Act as a primary care point of contact for a wide variety of patients
  • Collaborate and work alongside other healthcare professionals including healthcare administrators, physicians, nurses, psychologists, and others
  • Refer patients to specialists as needed

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

FNPs can find employment in a variety of medical settings, including:

  • Healthcare clinics
  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient facilities
  • Public and community healthcare centers
  • Telenursing companies
  • Health insurance companies
  • Private practice

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Aspiring family nurse practitioners must go through an extensive amount of education and clinical training to reach their goals. Not only must FNPs be personable and have exquisite communication skills, they should also be excellent critical thinkers, problem solvers, and life-long learners. If you think you have what it takes and are ready to make the time and work commitment, you'll need to go through extensive educational and clinical training.

Step 1: Educational Requirements

Nurses who wish to have a career as a family nurse practitioner should be prepared to first earn a BSN degree from an accredited college or university and pass the NCLEX-RN for licensure. Upon earning your RN license, you'll then need to acquire a bit of clinical experience in the field. From there you should enroll in a Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN), preferably with a concentration in family practice, a post-graduate certificate program designed for family nurse practitioners, or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Do Family Nurse Practitioners Need an RN Degree?

Not only are family nurse practitioners required to hold an unencumbered RN license, but they also must have a graduate degree in nursing science (i.e. MSN or DNP) in order to become a Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner.

Step 2: Required Family Nurse Practitioner Certifications/Credentials

Individuals who are seeking board certification as family nurse practitioners (FNP-BC) can do so through either the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

To be eligible for the Family Nurse Practitioner Board Certification (FNP-BC) through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, you will need to have the following:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • A master's, post-graduate, or doctorate degree from an FNP program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC)
  • Have completed at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours within an FNP program

To be eligible for The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) national certification in family practice, you will need to have the following:

  • Hold an active and unencumbered RN license
  • Hold a master's, post-master's, or doctoral degree from a gerontologic, adult, or family nurse practitioner program
  • Have at least 500 clinical clock hours of faculty-supervised practice
  • Have completed courses in advanced pharmacology, advanced physical assessment, and advanced pathophysiology

Credentials are valid for 5 years and then need to be renewed. They must be maintained by taking continuing nursing education credits.

Family Nurse Practitioner Jobs, Salary & Employment

There are several factors which contribute to the projected growth rate of positions as family nurse practitioners, which is much greater than other professions. They include a shortage of physicians, an aging population, and a growing emphasis on preventative health care. The combination of these three factors makes going into the healthcare field as a family nurse practitioner an excellent choice, as there will be ample opportunities for advancement in the field for years to come.

Job Description & Information

  • Essential Skills Needed - Independent, routine-oriented, effective and well-developed interpersonal communication abilities, well-organized, business-oriented, emotionally and intellectually capable, critical thinking ability, ability to deal with electronic health records, and the ability to take on a wide variety of tasks, patients, and situations each day
  • Job Outlook - As stated by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment outlook for FNPs is quite good, with a projected growth rate estimated at 31% by 2024. A mixture of the high demand for health services by the aging population and a growing emphasis on preventative care have made family nurse practitioners a popular profession.

What Is the Average Salary of a Family Nurse Practitioner?

According to PayScale, FNPs earn an average salary of about $92,548 annually. Exact figures will depend on factors like the location of employment, years of experience, credentials and certifications, education levels, and the employing organization. Similar factors will determine the contents of employee benefits packages that FNPs will receive from their employers. Most, however, will receive medical, dental, vision, and prescription drug coverage. FNPs can also count on some paid time off each year as well.

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Make per Year?

  • $77,000 – $114,000 annually

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Make per Hour?

  • $49.75 average hourly wage

Family Nurse Practitioner Resources