Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner Reveals a Career in Primary Healthcare

Any nurse wishing to further a career should take a serious look at becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). In order to accomplish this goal, it is necessary to enter a Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree program. Students enrolled in such a program will obtain the necessary and vital clinical and administrative skills to advance their careers in such settings as a physician’s office, hospital and community clinic.

So, What is so Important About Earning a Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree?

Nurse practitioners are medical professionals who have earned additional training and gained recognized certification in many areas involving primary healthcare. Graduates from a certified Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree program, are trained to provide the level of health care while attending to management-related duties when employed by a physician, a hospital or a community health clinic. Graduates that successfully complete a Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree program are eligible to take the national exam for career certification.

What are the Career Possibilities?
The occupational outlook for family nurse practitioners is excellent. The demand rate for this career is expected to grow much faster than the average for other occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the nursing profession is going to create the second most number of jobs for all professions.

What is an Average Annual Salary for a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family nurse practitioners earn a median annual salary from $60,000 – $96,000. however, some graduates of this master’s degree may choose to take careers in the field of hospital administration, which could result in higher annual salaries. To gain these typical salaries, FNPs have completed advanced nursing degree programs, which have provided them with special training and experiences to assess, treat, counsel and monitor families’ healthcare. They are able to provide prescriptions, order tests, refer patients and treat non-life-threatening conditions. Educational requirements for FNPs vary by state, but many states require at least a Master of Science in Nursing, while Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are also an option. FNPs are also required to have previously completed registered nursing programs and earned licensure as RNs. They need to complete continuing education in order to retain licensing and certification.

How Much Time is Needed to Obtain a Master of Science in Nursing?
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs take anywhere from 1-3 years to complete, depending on a student’s previous level of nursing education. Students entering with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, for example, may be able to complete a program in two years as opposed to three. MSN education includes classroom instruction as well as direct clinical experience in healthcare environments. Some programs are tailored specifically for those who wish to become FNPs. Common courses include:
• Family health management
• Pathophysiology
• Pharmacology for nurse practitioners
• Advanced family nursing practices
• Critical issue management
• Nursing research methodology
• Nursing informatics
• Health delivery systems

Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
Nurses with backgrounds or previous education in areas other than family nursing practice may complete a graduate certificate program in family nursing practice as an option. After completing master’s degree programs – in most cases – graduate certificates are earned. Students seeking to specialize as primary care FNPs typically complete programs in two years. Common courses include:
• Advanced physiology
• Advanced health assessment
• Adolescent and elderly care
• Women and child care
• Advanced pharmacology

Licensing and Certification Lead to Promising Careers
In order to work professionally in the United States, FNPs need to be licensed. They must have previously passed the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Passing this computer adaptive test allows candidates to work as registered nurses in the field, a prerequisite for becoming an FNP. Additional requirements vary based on state of employment and individual employer.

FNP certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC provides the FNP-BC credential for family nurse practitioners who successfully pass an exam. Although certification is voluntary in many cases, employers may request that FNPs be certified by this national organization to ensure that patients receive high quality care. These certifications typically require renewal every five years through additional continuing education, experience and applicable fees.

Since the overall outlook is great for any nurse practitioner field, choosing to become a Family Nurse Practitioner is a wise career choice.