Family Nurse Practitioner: Career, Outlook and Training Info

Research what it takes to become a family nurse practitioner. Learn about education, licensing requirements, job duties 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.

What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse with advanced training. He or she works closely with doctors and patients to make a diagnosis of illness. A family nurse practitioner serves as a primary health care provider and is an integral part of the medical team. Some of their duties include examining patients of all ages, running diagnostic tests and interpreting the results, adjusting treatment plans as necessary and conducting research. They are employed by various medical facilities that may include hospitals and clinics. The following chart provides an overview about a family nurse practitioner career.

Degree Required Master's degree at minimum; many earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Education Field of Study Nursing
Licensure or Certification All states require registered nurses to be licensed; some states require national board certification for FNPs
Key Responsibilities Examine patients; evaluate and diagnose medical conditions as primary health care provider; prescribe medication and treatments
Job Growth (2014-2024) 31% for all nurse practitioners*
Median Salary (2015)$98,190 for all nurse practitioners*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is the Career Definition of a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners are advanced-level nurses who provide some of the same services as general practice doctors. As a family primary care provider, you'd work with patients of all age levels, from infants to the elderly. Your primary task would be to encourage healthy living through disease prevention, early detection and health management.

As a family nurse practitioner, you would diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, monitor diseases, establish and maintain patient's medical histories, conduct physical exams, perform diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and provide immunizations.

What Is My Job Outlook?

Job opportunities for all nurse practitioners could increase by 31% over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As an FNP, you might work in a clinic, emergency room, intensive care unit or specialized care center.

What Training Is Required?

To become a family nurse practitioner, you need to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and become a registered nurse, which requires passage of the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

Nurse practitioner positions require you to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as well. Master's degree programs usually take two years to complete. You also have the option of enrolling in an accelerated master's degree program, which results in a BSN and MSN in 3-4 years. As a student in one of these graduate-level programs, you might take coursework in pharmacology, family primary care, public health ethics, epidemiology and health assessment.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A physical therapist (PT) is a related career that requires a Doctor of Physical Therapy. PTs are trained to help sick or disabled individuals regain or improve their movement, as well as helping the patient manage pain. The duties of a PT may include developing specialized patient care to improve mobility, evaluating a patient's progress, explaining the recovery process and providing tips on how to overcome challenges during recovery.

A physician assistant may share similar duties to that of a nurse practitioner. These individuals work closely with surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals to help examine, diagnose and treat patients. They are usually supervised by a surgeon or physician in a medical setting and may prescribe medicine, review patient records and answer patient questions. Candidates seeking to be a physician assistant will need a master's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • Northern Illinois University

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  • Capella University

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  • Southern New Hampshire University

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  • The George Washington University

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  • Independence University

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  • Regent University

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