Family nurse practitioners are advanced nurses who treat people of all ages and demographics. If you would like to become a family nurse practitioner, you must have an urge to advance your career in addition to wanting to help everybody. The best thing about making this career change is that family nurse practitioners can work independently and with full autonomy, which opens up a lot of opportunities.

What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are registered nurses who have specialized degrees. They provide care to people of all ages, which is what makes their work so interesting and challenging. They can:

● Order tests

● Perform procedures

● Carry out physical exams

● Diagnose and treat illnesses

● Prescribe medications

● Work to formulate policies that help patients develop healthy lifestyles

FNPs are crucial because they often work with the underrepresented, thereby helping bring up health standards in the areas and states they work in.

FNPs can work with patients throughout their lifetime, and their careers are coveted by those who enjoy lifelong relationships with their patients. Because of this, they have an intimate understanding of their patients which makes them even better caregivers.

Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a family nurse practitioner can take up to 10 years. It requires a lot of commitment and time. That may be why many nurses prefer online nurse practitioner programs in TN at institutions like Carson-Newman because these programs allow them to continue working as they earn higher degrees. That said, a family nurse practitioner’s journey will look something like this:

● Get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master’s Degree

● Become licensed so you can become a registered nurse

● Get some experience as a registered nurse

● Get a Master’s degree in nursing

● Get a certification that lets you become a family nurse practitioner

Become a Nurse

To become a nurse, you can go through a four-year program approved by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Other nurses choose to earn degrees in other areas or even obtain a two-year associate degree in nursing. That said, this is becoming less common with the nursing association asking new nurses to go through the four-year program.

Become Licensed

To become a licensed nurse, one must also pass the RN licensing exam. The National Council Licensure Examination is a nationwide exam for nurses.

Work as a Registered Nurse

Working as a registered nurse gives you valuable experience that you can carry over when you switch to focusing on family nursing. If you want to become a family nurse practitioner, this is the best time to try to work in as many areas possible so you learn to deal with a diverse number of patients.

Get Your Master’s Degree in Nursing

Masters’ degrees in nursing are available in several colleges and universities. If you want to keep working while going for your masters, you can always take an online course. Some of the areas of study you can expect include:

● Managing episodic, acute and chronic illnesses

● Family nursing intervention and theory

● Research

● Leadership skills

● Primary healthcare

When getting your masters, you can expect to have both classroom and hands-on lessons.

Become Certified in Family Practice

Once you have your masters and some experience, two boards can certify you to become a Family Nurse Practitioner. These are:

● The American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Nurses Association, or

● The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board

Depending on the state you wish to work in, there may be a preferred choice between the two, so it is always a good idea to check beforehand.

To take the family nurse practitioner exams, which are conducted online, you must have:

● A current RN license in the US or equivalent certification from another country

● Masters, doctoral or a postgraduate degree from an institution that offers family nurse practitioner training

● At least 500 clinical hours that have to be supervised.

● Completed advanced courses in health assessment, pharmacology, physiology or pathophysiology

Once you get your certification, you have to get recertified and must also keep your registered nursing license active. You should also become familiar with the requirements of your recertification board to ensure everything goes smoothly when the time comes.

What Do Family Nurse Practitioners Do?

Family nurse practitioners must provide family-focused care. Their work involves the whole family, from infants to geriatrics. Because of this, family nurse practitioners are often the primary healthcare providers for lots of families.

Family nurse practitioners are tasked with:

● Conducting physicals

● Assisting in some surgeries

● Making referrals if the situation calls for it

● Assessing and diagnosing conditions

● Ordering diagnostic and lab exams

● Developing and implementing treatment plans for their patients

● Providing preventative healthcare

● Educating patients on how to live healthier lives

● Prescribing medications

Family nurse practitioners can work independently or with others, which makes their careers very dynamic.

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

Remember that family nurse practitioners are nurses too, and they, therefore, work anywhere you can find nurses. This includes:

● Private practices or offices

● School clinics

● Community healthcare centers

● Clinics

● Hospitals

● Hospices

● Home healthcare

Because they have advanced degrees, it is common to see family nurse practitioners setting policy, in administration or even in education.

Because nurse practitioners are not normally tied to any one institution, they have helped bridge the healthcare gap in rural areas. Nurses step in to help in areas that have a shortage of physicians or doctors.

The regulations for how and where family nurse practitioners work are determined by the state they are in. This is also true for exams and certifications.

Do Family Nurse Practitioners Continue Their Education?

Generally, no. The only thing they have to worry about renewing are their licenses and certifications. That said, family nurse practitioners can decide to specialize to go into other careers.

State Guidelines

Depending on the state that a family nurse practitioner decides to practice in, their scope of work and even what they can and cannot do will vary. In most states in the United States, laws have already been enacted to allow for family nurse practitioners to work independently. This means that nurses in these states will be able to work without any physician oversight. These states are pushing to have family nurses work without supervision because there are not enough physicians to oversee all of them.

All states in the United States recognize family nurse practitioners as primary caregivers but they do not grant them the ability to prescribe drugs. Some states also require that all prescriptions family nurse practitioners write should be supervised by a physician.

Some states like Washington give family nursing practitioners the same privileges as physicians. This means they can:

● Admit patients

● Discharge patients

● Diagnose

● Formulate treatment plans

● Prescribe medications

Specialization within the Practice

Even if family nurse practitioners work with all patients, regardless of their demographics, they can still choose to specialize in one or two areas. Dialysis travel nurse is one of the example and also these specializations include:

● Emergency medicine – Family nurse practitioners who go into emergency medicine learn how to assess, diagnose and treat patients with acute and life-threatening conditions. They can be the first line of treatment before the patient gets to see a doctor.

● Oncology – Family nurse practitioners can also decide to work with patients who have cancer. Since they are trained in helping patients and families deal with health issues, they can educate the patients and their family how to best take care of them and what to expect as the disease progresses or goes into remission.

● Cardiology – Family nurse practitioners can also decide to specialize in the heart and related systems. To follow this path, FNPs must go through specific coursework. They also have to add 200 hours of supervised work to their resumes. The supervisor has to be a certified and experienced cardiovascular expert.

● Women’s health – These family nurse practitioners work on issues that specifically affect women. They can work closely with gynecology physicians to gain the necessary experience needed.

● Neonatology – Family nurse practitioners who work in neonatology work with newborns. If they are assigned to the NICU, these nurses get to work with infants born prematurely or those that have various conditions.

Is a Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner for You?

It takes a lot of work and commitment to become a certified family nurse practitioner. If you love working with people in general and do not mind forming long term relationships with the patients you take care of, this could be a fulfilling care option for you.

It can also be a stepping stone into other specializations where you could get the career fulfillment you crave. The pay is also one of the highest among all types of nurses due to their advanced nursing education. The licensing and certifications may be a bit tough but if you are already a nurse, there is nothing you cannot handle.

Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a dream a lot of nurses have. It may be difficult to become one because of the time commitment, but there are online programs available that can help nurses become family nurse practitioners while they work. A career as a family nurse practitioner is very fulfilling and might just be the type of career you may be looking for.

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