Is an FNP Program Right For Me?
You are passionate about health care and eager to make a difference for your patients. If you prefer a job with a high degree of autonomy but also want to avoid the time and expense of medical school, you can pursue an excellent alternative: becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
As an FNP, you enjoy the best of both worlds: the hands-on, holistic care associated with nursing, plus the office hours and autonomy typically enjoyed by primary care physicians. Equally compelling? The path to becoming an FNP is surprisingly streamlined—especially if you already have your Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Still, becoming an FNP requires a great deal of commitment. As such, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into early on.
What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Before you can truly know what a family nurse practitioner is or why this role is so important, it helps to understand the general scope of the nurse practitioner (NP) designation.
As an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), an NP holds an elite level of education. Typically, this means obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing. From there, it’s possible to take on a variety of leadership or research-oriented positions which require skills and understanding beyond what a typical registered nurse (RN) would possess. Common specializations include psychiatric care, gerontology, or, of course, FNP.
Family nurse practitioners provide a variety of services that promote long-term health. This encompasses early diagnosis and treatment, with FNPs often charged with developing comprehensive or even holistic plans for helping their patients address a wide array of chronic and acute health concerns. FNPs must also maintain meticulous patient records. Their scope of practice may be broad, but they can obtain additional certifications or training to enable niche work.
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Benefits of Being a Family Nurse Practitioner
Many aspiring medical professionals wonder: Given the frequent level of overlap between nurse practitioners and physicians, why become a family nurse practitioner? Personal reasons will vary from one FNP to the next, but here are a few of the most compelling reasons to take on this role:
Excellent Job Growth
Rising costs throughout the health care field necessitate creative solutions. Increasingly, this means relying on FNPs to provide a wide range of services often associated with primary care physicians. As a result, the demand for skilled FNPs is greater than ever—so those with the proper credentials should have very little trouble finding work.
This growing demand is reflected in findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) which reveals an impressive job outlook of 45 percent between 2019 and 2029 for nurse practitioners and other types of advanced practice nurses. Given the average job outlook of just 4 percent across all industries, this level of growth is worth a second look if you’re intent on pursuing a career path with excellent job security.
With the high demand for NPs (including FNPs) comes the ability to command exceptional earnings. Data from the BLS indicates a median annual salary of $117,670 for the category encompassing nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. Family nurse practitioner salary largely depends on work setting, with those employed in physician offices earning $114,570 per year.
Pursue Niche Fields
While FNPs seem, at first glance, like general practitioners, they actually hold the ability to pursue careers in a variety of intriguing niches. These may reflect where FNPs work or the types of patients on which they focus. Examples include:
- School nurse practitioner. While many people are familiar with the role of school nurse, few realize the extent to which this position is now covered by FNPs. When allowed to serve in school-based clinics, these professionals can more effectively address a critical gap in the health care system.
- Parish nurse practitioner. Similar in some respects to school-based NPs, parish practitioners draw on a combination of thorough training and personal faith to serve members of religious communities.
- Men’s or women’s health. Focusing on issues unique to male or female patients, these NPs provide a range of reproductive health services. These often involve family planning assistance, although FNPs may also be involved in diagnosing or treating sexually transmitted diseases.
- Holistic care. Often, FNPs address health care from a holistic perspective, in which they aim to treat the whole person. This approach takes a broad range of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health concerns into account.
- Maternal and child care. FNPs often provide a continuum of care for expectant mothers and, eventually, their children. This continuity can be valuable, as it enables FNPs to build strong relationships with both parent and child. These strong bonds continue as young patients grow up—and the trust they produce can lead to improved health outcomes on both a short and long-term basis.
Many FNPs hold an insatiable appetite for research and academia, which they are able to satisfy while obtaining their MSN and later, by fulfilling continuing education requirements.
This position also delivers numerous intellectual challenges on the job, as FNPs are heavily involved in the diagnosis and the development of comprehensive treatment plans. To maintain their skills and keep up with the quickly-moving profession, FNPs dedicate considerable time to reading the latest academic journals and attending professional seminars and conferences.
Improve Patient Outcomes
As a registered nurse with a BSN, you are well aware of the extent to which additional education can improve your ability to care for patients. Consider the vast improvements your newfound skills delivered when you obtained your bachelor’s degree. Now, imagine how you can build on this by pursuing your master’s.
While any health care graduate program can strengthen your clinical skills, few compare to the MSN FNP, which helps you acquire comprehensive knowledge that you will draw upon as you work with patients. Courses such as Advanced Practice Nursing, Advanced Physical Assessment, and Diagnostic Reasoning prepare you to handle a variety of patient concerns. Equipped with this increased understanding, you will be better capable of boosting patients’ physical health and emotional wellbeing.
A Feeling of Accomplishment
There’s no satisfaction quite like knowing that your work in the medical field has both an immediate effect and a huge impact on long-term health. This is true at both the individual and public level, as FNPs play a critical role in the overarching health of the communities they serve. Every time you make a much-needed diagnosis or observe a patient making progress, you’ll enjoy the immense satisfaction of knowing that your work matters.
Where Do FNPs Work?
While FNPs can work in a variety of settings, most are employed in small offices or clinics. There, they typically maintain office hours, although some may work evenings or weekends on an occasional or regular basis.
Increasingly, many FNPs work within retail settings, such as walk-in clinics situated within major retailers or grocery stores. There, they are able to treat members of underserved communities, who often lack access to preventative care. Some FNPs may also work in schools, universities, or corporate environments.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
You’ve decided that you can thrive as a family nurse practitioner. An exciting future awaits—but first, you’ll need to obtain extensive training. This can be found at the American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University. This esteemed department provides undergraduate and graduate programs of value to a variety of current and aspiring health care professionals.
To work as an FNP, you’ll need to obtain a Master of Science with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization. Enrolling in this program is possible as soon as you obtain your Bachelor of Science in Nursing, along with at least one year of experience in the field.
An online MSN FNP program is beneficial in that coursework can be completed from the convenience of home without compromising busy professional schedules. Clinicals, however, while not confined to a specific geographical area, must be conducted in an appropriate and approved facility that meets course outcomes.
Regardless of how you approach coursework and clinicals, your rigorous MSN FNP curriculum will thoroughly prepare you to take board certification exams, which, in turn, can help you acquire your license to practice in your state. Consult with the board of the state in which you wish to work to ensure your program meets its requirements.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards becoming an FNP, the American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Science at Post University could be an excellent resource. Get in touch today to learn more about the MSN FNP program and how it might play into your career goals.
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Please note jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries highlighted in this blog do not reflect jobs, career outcomes, and/or salaries expected from any Post program. To learn more about Post’s program and their outcomes, please fill out a form to speak with an admissions representative.