The role of family nurse practitioner (FNP) is certain to be of interest to many healthcare professionals, but what does it involve, and how do you gain the necessary skills to carry out this role?

The basics

FNPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). They have the experience and knowledge required to carry out an extremely broad range of duties that are based on providing care for the health of every member of the family. They aren’t restricted to only looking after patients of certain ages, so they care for everyone in the family from the youngest babies to the most senior members.

The broad-ranging nature of this role means that they carry out tasks such as physical examinations, diagnostic tests, and treating various illnesses. Part of the role also involves keeping track of all the patient records and creating treatment plans where necessary.

This role isn’t confined to a specific location either. This means that FNPs can work in any setting as part of a private or public healthcare system. Some professionals who carry out this role have studied to gain certification in specialist areas such as pain management or diabetes treatment, but this isn’t necessary.

They can also act as a link between physicians and their patients, often providing the paperwork needed to progress more serious cases where the patient is referred to a specialist. So, it’s a holistic approach that sees the nurse take a genuine interest in all the health matters concerning the families under their care.

Why is the FNP role attractive?

The FNP role would be attractive for an experienced nurse who is looking for challenging yet rewarding work. It gives them the chance to really get to know their patients and gain the satisfaction of helping them navigate any health issues they come across.

Some people compare this to the general practitioner or family physician role that was popular in the past, in that it involves having a very wide base of general medical knowledge and the willingness to engage constantly with family members.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the professionals who carry out this role have an average of close to 10 years of experience and earn a median total annual income of $115,000. This makes it a worthwhile career move for many people who feel that they’re ready to take the next step in their career and put their hard-earned knowledge to good use.

The shortage of nurses and other healthcare professionals in the US and abroad has made this an area of great demand, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities. Whether you’re looking for work close to home or the chance to live somewhere else, this can be a smart way of widening your horizons. Indeed, it’s one of the roles expected to have the most growth in the next decade or so, with new jobs predicted to appear at an ever faster rate than in other sectors of the healthcare industry.

How to become an FNP

It’s clear that the responsibility and range of skills in this role require an experienced nurse with the right qualifications to inspire confidence in their patients. Naturally, only licensed registered nurses (RNs) can carry out this role, and this would be after gaining the experience and additional certification necessary to do it well.

For example, a look at the University of Indianapolis website reveals details of its online Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN-FNP) course. This is a part-time course carried out in an online format that allows students to complete their certification in eight semesters. In the course, they learn vital areas such as health assessments, drainage techniques and incisions.

This sort of course gives you the confidence needed to carry out the daily tasks of FNPs and can propel your career in this interesting new sphere. It’s also important that you look for a course that offers clinical placement opportunities, as this is where you get the chance to put into practice everything that you learn for the first time.

A look ahead

As we have seen, the role of the FNP offers many opportunities for nurses. With the future prospects for this role looking extremely positive, now is a great time to take the first steps and start to get ready to genuinely make a difference to the lives of many families.