What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

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A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse who provides acute and preventative care in various settings, such as doctor’s offices or long-term outpatient facilities. To become an FNP, candidates must earn their Master of Science in Nursing degree and acquire an FNP certification.

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Abundant career paths are available to those in the nursing field. Beyond the demand for registered nurses (RNs), nurses can pursue dozens of practice areas. Entering a role requiring certifications or advanced degrees, such as a nurse practitioner, is one of many ways to develop your career. You can start pursuing an advanced nursing role by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Utica University.

Utica’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, or Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program, can help you earn your nursing degree in 16 months. With our hybrid learning model, offering online coursework and in-person labs and clinical practice, our nursing programs prepare students to confidently take the NCLEX-RN exam and begin gaining career experience as a licensed practicing nurse.

One such career you can begin pursuing after becoming an RN is an FNP, a specialty within the nurse practitioner role. Let us examine what this position is, how you can enter this career path, and how you can begin to expand your nursing horizons with a BSN degree.

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What Is an FNP?

What is a family nurse practitioner? An FNP is an advanced practice RN (APRN) who provides family-focused primary and preventive care to patients of all ages, from infants to seniors. FNPs typically work with healthcare teams to manage common illnesses and injuries, referring patients to specialists when necessary.

An FNP’s purview typically extends to performing patient assessments and wellness exams, prescribing medications, consulting with other healthcare professionals, and advising lifestyle changes as part of preventive care. FNPs are valuable resources for patients seeking comprehensive healthcare services.

What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?

FNPs have a broad scope of practice, but from day to day, they perform key tasks that are vital to patient welfare. The most common responsibilities of an FNP include the following:

  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Managing care plans
  • Ordering and analyzing test results
  • Administering medications
  • Educating patients on their condition and treatment

Any treatment that falls within primary care is the responsibility of an FNP. Due to their level of experience and education, these professionals have a broad scope of practice.

student nurse

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

FNPs may work independently in a private practice or a wide range of institutions. The expected duties of an FNP vary depending on the place of practice. The most common practice settings for an FNP include the following:

  • Community Centers: In a community center role, FNPs typically function more as community educators than healthcare administrators. Their primary duty is informing the public of proper health practices and current health risks threatening the community.
  • Clinics: Health clinics are a common place of practice for FNPs, where they act in a similar capacity to primary physicians to independently assess and treat patients within the scope of their license.
  • Outpatient Clinics: As in their role within the standard physician’s office, nurse practitioners and FNPs assist primary care physicians with minor procedures and treatments.
  • Hospitals: FNPs working in a hospital setting can gain experience in performing acute care for diverse patients in a wide variety of departments, including maternity, clinical care, and the emergency room.
  • Doctors’ Offices: FNPs support the primary care physician in a doctor’s office setting. Duties may include updating patient records and communicating with patients before or after their visit.
  • Telemedicine: Due to the freedom technology affords, telemedicine allows FNPs to treat a more diverse spectrum of patients, geographically and socioeconomically. In this role, FNPs can use the full extent of their knowledge because they can quickly connect with and assess a wide variety of issues.
  • Long-Term Care Facilities: FNPs are the bridge between patients and their care team in long-term care facilities. An FNP’s broad skillset is helpful in this setting, where patients typically have complex needs and are at risk of hospitalization.

What are the Requirements for Becoming an FNP?

Working as an FNP requires APRN licensure, which allows FNPs to work more autonomously than RNs, although individual state laws can result in differences in their scope of practice. All FNPs start as RNs and must gain experience before progressing to the next step in their family nurse practitioner education.

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Education Requirements

Prospective FNPs must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. Before applying to an MSN program, candidates must have at least a year of experience working as a licensed RN. However, a 2020 American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) survey reports that, on average, FNPs have 9.8 years of experience. You may want to take time before entering your master’s program to build your confidence and skill set to prepare for a more advanced role.

While it is not required, some students pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree before certifying as an FNP.

Are you curious about other advanced careers within your reach? Read Utica’s Q&A with a Chief Nursing Officer and how she grew her career.

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Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

After completing a master’s program over two or three years, graduates can seek FNP Board Certification from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANPCert) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

The AANPCert exam comprises 150 questions, 135 of which are eligible for scoring. The other 15 are pretest questions. The exam covers four domains: assessment, diagnosis, planning and evaluation. Across these four domains, the questions will cover knowledge areas spanning health assessment, pathophysiology, therapeutics and evidence-informed practice.

Similarly, the ANCC exam is split into sections for assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. However, within these sections, the exam is divided between knowledge- and skills-based questions. This assessment has 175 questions, only 150 of which count toward your score. The other 25 are pretest questions that do not count toward your final grade.

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Are you convinced the FNP career is right for you? Discover how to plan your nursing career path and obtain your dream job.

Family Nurse Practitioner Career Outlook

The AANP reports that FNPs comprise 70.3% of all certified nurse practitioners. It is by far the most popular specialization, with adult gerontology primary care following at only 8.9%.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, the annual mean wage for nurse practitioners is $121,610, almost twice the national average of $61,900. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also predicts that nurse practitioner employment will grow by 45% from 2022 to 2032.

Now is the ideal time to pursue a career as an FNP. So act now and begin your nursing education at Utica University.

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Start With Utica University

If you want to embark on your advanced degree, Utica’s ABSN program in Central New York and Albany will steer you to your destination. When earning your BSN degree at Utica University, you can apply your non-nursing college credits or degree toward your nursing education so you can start your career as soon as possible. Our curriculum will challenge you to become a confident and competent nurse, and our dedicated staff will support you every step of the way.

Contact an admission representative at Utica today to learn more about our ABSN program and begin your application.

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