How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner in 5 Steps
Research what it takes to become a family nurse practitioner. Learn about education, licensing requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Family Nurse Practitioner degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
Career Information at a Glance
Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who provide a wide range of health care services to patients ranging from youth to adults. The following chart provides an overview about becoming a family nurse practitioner.
|Degree Required||Master's degree|
|Education Field of Study||Nursing|
|Licensure or Certification||All states require registered nurses to be licensed; board certification in family nurse practitioner may be preferred by employers|
|Key Responsibilities||Examine, assess and diagnose patients' health issues; order and perform diagnostic tests and evaluate results; prescribe medications and treatments; advise patients about their health issues|
|Job Growth (2012-2022)||34% for all nurse practitioners*|
|Median Salary (2013)||$92,670 for all nurse practitioners*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
What Will I Do as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Family nurse practitioners (FNP) provide patients, ranging from children to adults, with a range of health care services. As an FNP, you'll check vitals, perform some diagnostic tests, make initial diagnoses and manage overall care of the patient. You'll work with patients to manage disease and emphasize preventative care.
Step 1: Complete a Nursing Program
You'll need to undertake a nursing program before seeking licensure. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is required for students intending to continue to graduate studies. This program teaches you the basics of nursing theory, patient care and health care systems. Nursing programs also include an essential clinical practicum that you'll need for licensure.
Step 2: Seek Licensure
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing offers the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN) (www.ncsbn.org). Many states use this test as a basis for their licensing requirements, and hospitals require applicants to pass this exam before working as a registered nurse.
Step 3: Apply for a Graduate Program
Nurse practitioner programs are offered at many colleges in a wide range of specializations, including family nurse practitioner. Most programs lead to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and adequately prepare you to work with multiple age groups. These programs hone your assessment and care skills in your particular specialty with courses in human development and aging. You'll also complete a clinical practicum during your graduate studies.
Step 4: Obtain Certification
You may choose to obtain certification to demonstrate your level of professionalism. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners has a family nurse practitioner certification program (www.aanpcertification.org). You must have completed a FNP master's or post-master's degree program and pass the certification examination. The American Nurses Credentialing Center also offers certification if you have a master's degree, an RN license and demonstrate health prevention knowledge (www.nursecredentialing.org).
Step 5: Find Work
FNPs work in private practices, hospitals, community health centers and emergency rooms. There is a demand reflecting an overall increase in the nursing field. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts job growth for all nurse practitioners to increase by 34% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). Medically underserved areas like rural communities and inner cities are expected to have the highest demand for nurse practitioners.
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