What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Do?
If you’re looking to advance in the healthcare field and play a greater role in patient care, consider becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).
Similar to nurse practitioners (NPs), FNPs are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) that provide patient care across the lifespan. Their scope of practice ranges from diagnosis to treatment, disease management and health prevention. FNPs can work across different specialties, in various healthcare environments and care for patients of all ages.
As the baby boomer population ages and demand for healthcare services grows, FNPs play an increasingly vital role in providing primary and specialty care for their communities. In some areas, FNPs provide services for which patients would have historically waited weeks to see a physician, especially in rural areas where there is a shortage of primary care providers.
Interested in learning more? Keep reading to find out what a family nurse practitioner does and what you need to do to become one.
What are the official responsibilities of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?
An FNP’s scope of practice may vary depending on the state and place of employment, but day-to-day responsibilities generally include:
- Performing physical exams. FNPs can perform routine checkups to assess a patient’s health and they can also be involved in diagnosing and treating various health problems.
- Developing care plans. If a patient requires treatment, FNPs can develop and implement a care plan. They can also provide general health counseling to help patients and their families lead healthier lives or learn how to manage their illnesses and injuries.
- Prescribing medications. In most states, FNPs are able to prescribe medication. They may also monitor a patient’s response to different medications so that they can determine the best option for treatment.
- Consulting with other healthcare professionals. FNPs may consult other healthcare professionals as they develop or contribute to a patient’s existing treatment plan. However, they often work independently and they can serve as a patient’s primary care provider.
- Ordering and performing diagnostic tests. FNPs can order diagnostic tests to help evaluate a patient’s condition. They may conduct additional tests throughout treatment to evaluate whether the current care plan is working or if adjustments are needed.
What are the benefits of becoming an FNP?
On the fence about whether or not a career as an FNP is right for you? There are numerous benefits to this career path:
- It’s fast growing. There’s never been a better time to become an FNP. The career is in high demand due to the growing need for healthcare services, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimating a 28% increase in employment from 2018 to 2028.
- It’s a sought-after career. U.S. News & World Report ranked FNPs as #5 in the Best Health Care Jobs for 2019 and #7 on the list of 100 best jobs in America.
- There’s high earning potential. Registered nurses (RNs) earn an average annual salary of $71,730, while the median annual wage of FNPs is $113,930, according to the BLS. The top 10% of FNPs earn more than $182,750.
- There are a variety of paths available. While the title “family nurse practitioner” makes it seem as though you’ll be working in family practice, you can choose from a variety of specialties that fit your interests and skills, including pediatrics, urgent care, internal medicine and more.
- You can build your leadership skills. As an FNP, you’re the primary care provider for your patients, which means you’re delegating responsibilities and managing nurses and other members of the healthcare team.
How do I become an FNP?
If you’re interested in becoming an FNP, your path will depend on whether you’re already in the healthcare field.
- Earn your degree. If you’re already an RN and have your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you can earn your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in Family Nurse Practitioner in 20 months. With Herzing University, you can complete your degree online, allowing you to learn at your own pace and on your own time. This means you can continue working full time or raising a family without putting your career goals on hold.
- Build your skills. In addition to a degree, it helps if you’re skilled in communication and critical-thinking, as FNPs must clearly communicate with patients and healthcare professionals, and must make decisions regarding plans of action for patients.
- Get licensed. Once you earn your degree, you’ll want to become licensed in the state you plan on working. Licensure requirements differ and are dictated by each state’s board of nursing.