Family Practice Nurse Degree

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What is a Family Practice Nurse?

Family Practice Nursing or Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is a branch of nursing emphasizing both comprehensive and continuous care for a family and their family members for all genders, ages, diseases, and body systems.

A Family Practice Nurse is a division of primary care nursing focused on a holistic health approach placing weighted consideration for the patient within context of family and community with a trained eye towards health and disease prevention.

Family Practice Nursing involves working directly with patients and help identify and solve problems.  The Family Practice Nurse profession fuses compassion, technology, science, and medicine into a fulfilling vocation.

Is an FNP an APRN?

A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) providing a full suite of healthcare for individuals and families of all ages.  Family Nurse Practitioner’s provide preventative healthcare, well checks, health assessments, screenings, physicals, counseling, and education for a range of patients.

FNP’s are also trained to diagnose and treat both chronic and acute illness for patients of all ages and body systems.   In terms of work setting, a Family Nurse Practitioner can be found in private offices, clinics, hospice facilities, homes, schools, and community health centers.

What Does a Family Practice Nurse Do?

Upon completion of the FNP program, students will be expected to perform a full range of duties depending on the clinic, hospital, and/ore medical facility.  In most cases, an FNP will be tasked with performing the following set of job responsibilities:

  1. Independently screen, educate, manage & diagnose patients
  2. Provide care for your own panel of patients
  3. Be licensed to care for patients of all ages
  4. Independently prescribe medications
  5. Manage patients along with specialty doctors, as needed

How Do You Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

A family nurse practitioner is a nurse practitioner that has earned a specialty in family medicine.  In most cases, a FNP will have substantive experience working as a Registered Nurse before going back to school to earn a master’s degree.

By earning a master’s degree in nursing, you will become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).  An APN is a nurse specialist with a doctorate or master’s degree in nursing trained to provide healthcare services often provided by physicians.  The four types of APN’s include the following:

  1. Certified Nurse Practitioners – A CNP or Certified Nurse Practitioners are a type of APRN working side-by-side with physicians, performing medical research and advocating for patients. CNP’s may elect to specialize in various sub-categories of healthcare such as: family care, pediatrics, oncology, women’s health, cardiology, surgical services, and pain management.  Certified Nurse Practitioners work in an array of settings like small clinics, home care, physician’s offices, and hospitals.
  2. Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) – Certified Nurse Midwife fuses the work of a midwife with that of a gynecologist. A Certified Nurse Midwife is very active in the overall management of a woman’s health and will provide exams and consultations in a medical office or in a home.  CNM’s will typically have the autonomy to make critical care and health care decisions.
  3. Clinical Nurse Specialists – A CNS or Clinical Nurse Specialist the final type of APN and is authorized to provide specialty care or primary patient care. Examples of specialized care include differing domains such as: care type (psychiatric, pediatric), medical setting (emergency room, clinic), demographic (elderly, children), disease type (diabetes, oncology), and medical concentration (stress, pain).
  4. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) – A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is an APN providing anesthesia to patients from the infirm to healthy individuals. A CRNA can work in a nursing care facilities, private clinic, public healthcare institution, home care, physician’s office, hospitals, school, or military facility.

In order to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, you will need to earn a Master’s Degree in Nursing or a Doctorate Degree in Nursing from an accredited, state nursing board approved school.  Next, you will need to receive a certification to practice in your state of residence by the AANP or ANCC.

Educational Requirements of Family Practice Nurses

In terms of educational requirements, Family Practice Nurse degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

Graduates from accredited Family Nurse Practitioner programs will be able to work independently and as part of a medical team for the benefit of a patient.  The work settings of a FNP will vary by area of concentration, employment opportunities, and career preferences.  A common list of work settings and disciplines available to a family practice nurse include the following:

Primary Care Veteran’s health
Long-term Care facilities Urgent Care
Pediatric Primary Care Gastroenterology
Internal Medicine Women’s Health
Family Practice Oncology
ER/Trauma Cardiology
Gerontology Perinatal
Orthopedics Neurology
HIV Care Dermatology

Top Job Responsibilities of a Family Nurse Practitioner

In a recent survey completed by the Department of Labor, Family Nurse Practitioners from around the country provided insight into their job responsibilities.  From region to region and job to job, a FNP will likely be required to perform the following set of job duties and work responsibilities as part of their daily activities.  The top 7 job responsibilities of a family nurse practitioner include:

  1. Manage acute illness and chronic health problems through differential diagnoses and a robust biological science foundation
  2. Analyze, prescribe, and manage a variety of therapies
  3. Provide comprehensive health screenings and assessments plus analyze and interpret those diagnostic procedures
  4. Lead activities and procedures within healthcare organizations
  5. Actively advocate FNP’s and the nursing community
  6. Liaise with patients & family members to educate, promote good health, and disease prevention of all types
  7. Utilize impactful patient approaches (family, patient, developmental)

Family Nurse Practitioner Certifications

Upon completion of an accredited FNP program from an accredited institution, you will be eligible to take the Family Nurse Practitioner certification.  The FNP examination can be taken through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  Details about the FNP examinations are detailed below for your convenience:

AANP Certification

The AANP’s national certification for family nurse practitioners requires all applicants to meet these minimum requirements prior to taking the certification:

  • Have an active RN license in good standing
  • Earned a master’s, post-graduate, or doctorate degree from an accredited school
  • Completed 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours or more
  • Successfully taken advanced FNP classes in pathophysiology, physical assessments, health assessments, and pharmacology

ANCC Certification

The ANCC offers the FNP-BC certificate for applicants who have met or exceeded the following standards:

  • Have an active RN license in good standing
  • Earned a master’s, post-graduate, or doctorate degree from an accredited school
  • Completed 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours or more
  • Completed classes in disease prevention, disease management, health promotion, and differential diagnosis
  • Successfully taken advanced FNP classes in pathophysiology, physical assessments, health assessments, and pharmacology

Both the AANP and ANCC require FNP professionals to recertify every 5 years in conjunction with specific clinical requirements and continuing education thresholds for your state of residence.

Employment Information & FNP Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in Family Practice Nurse, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from Registered Nurse (RN), LPN, LVP, MRI Technologist, biological technician, microbiologist, biomedical engineer,  medical scientist, nursing assistant, diagnostic medical sonographer, nuclear medicine technologist, physician assistant, and vascular technologist.   Prospective career paths may require additional education, training, licensure, and certification.

States with the Highest Number of Family Nurse Practitioners

  • New York   13,060
  • California   12,740
  • Florida          8,940
  • Texas             8,890
  • Ohio              6,650

Top Paying States for Family Nurse Practitioners

  1. California             $124,330
  2. Alaska                   $121,250
  3. Massachusetts     $117,860
  4. Hawaii                   $117,180
  5. New Jersey            $115,230

Top Paying Cities for Family Nurse Practitioners

  1. Altoona, PA                $180,520
  2. San Francisco, CA     $158,050
  3. Salem, MA                  $155,320
  4. San Jose, CA               $145,480
  5. Vallejo, CA                  $142,210

FNP Jobs & Career Growth

Family nurse practitioner jobs are trending well above average.  In fact, FNP's are projected to see a torrid 31% growth in jobs in the coming decade.  This rapid growth translates to 64,200 new jobs in the coming decade.  This amazing growth coupled with rising access to quality healthcare are excellent indicators of future FNP career opportunities.

FNP Salary

Mean annual salary of family practice nurses is $110,930 or $53.33 per hour.  The top ten percent of FNP's average $145,630 a year while the bottom 10% average approximately $75,000 a year.  Top paying states for family practice nurses include California, Alaska, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.  All four states average FNP salaries in excess of $120,000 per year.  The top employers of FNP's is currently physician's offices, surgical hospitals, healthcare practitioners, outpatient care facilities, and universities.

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