FNP Career and Education Overview

  • What FNPs Do: As a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), you will diagnose illnesses, prescribe
    8 Steps to Become an FNP
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    medication and therapy, conduct routine check-ups, order patient lab tests, assist in minor surgical procedures, focus on disease prevention, educate patients.
  • Where Do FNPs Work: The most common places you will work are in private practices, hospitals, clinics, schools, and hospice facilities.
  • Employment Projections: Job growth for Family Nurse Practitioners is projected to grow 31 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • How Much Will You Earn: According to several public and private sources, Family Nurse Practitioners make between $97,990 and $117,298.
  • Number of FNP Programs: 388 universities offer nurse practitioner programs in the U.S. 38 universities offer an online FNP program.
  • How Long Does It Take to Become an FNP: If you already have your BSN, becoming an FNP will take between 2 and 3 years. To become RN-BSN, or RN to MSN will take about 2 to 3 years.
  • Requirements to Become an FNP:  You need a bachelor’s degree, RN licensure, master’s degree in nursing, national certification, and state licensure.

Family Nurse Practitioner
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Eight Steps to Become an FNP

  1. Earn Your RN – Earn your RN from an CCNE or ACEN accredited university. Your ADN/BSN credits will more likely be fully accepted in your MSN program. Guide to earning your BSN.
  2. Pass The NCLEX-RN Exam – Pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Several study habits along with taking plenty of practice NCLEX-Tests will help you pass the first time. Check our guide and free exams with rationales.
  3. Earn Your MSN – Take courses in family nursing theory and intervention, acute and chronic illness management, research, primary healthcare concerns and leadership preparation.
  4. Complete Supervised Clinical Hours – Complete at least 500 supervised clinical hours as a part of the master’s program.
  5. Become Board Certified – Earn your board certification in family practice through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) to become a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (CFNP).
  6. Obtain Licensure – Apply for licensure in the state you want to work in.
  7. Obtain a DEA Number – Apply for DEA registration to prescribe medication.
  8. Maintain Active Certification Licensure – Minimum amount of 100 continuing education credits and 1000 hands on clinical hours during the 5-year re-certification period. Keep active BLS and DEA licenses. Maintain an active RN license in the state where you practice.

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner

A Family Nurse Practitioner is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) that provide comprehensive direct patient care to male and female patients throughout their lifespan. In a typical day you will collect medical histories, perform examinations, diagnose, order and evaluate laboratory tests, educate patients, make referrals, and prescribe medication. You can manage chronic conditions, treat acute conditions, care for children and infants, and care for older adults. You can also specialize further in areas such as cardiology, nephrology, palliative care and more.

How Do I Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Becoming an FNP requires a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in nursing. There are many different pathways to becoming an FNP depending on whether you are already an RN or have no prior nursing experience.

  • BSN to MSN: If you have a bachelor’s in nursing you can complete a traditional master’s in nursing program in 2 years.
  • Bachelors to MSN: If you have a bachelors in something other than nursing you complete a Direct Entry Master’s in Nursing program. These programs require you to have completed a certain number of pre-requisite courses such as biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, pathology and more. After 2 to 3 years (depending on the program) you can earn a master’s in nursing.
  • BSN to DNP: If you choose to get a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) this will take about 4 years. You will graduate with both MSN and DNP degrees. A DNP degree prepares the advanced practice nurse to apply research to their clinical practice.
  • MSN to DNP: If you already have a master’s in nursing you can get a DNP degree in about 2 to 3 years.

Review similar nursing careers of Pediatrics Registered Nurse, Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner and Acute Care Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

FNP Certification and Licensure

Certification means that you are qualified to provide care for patients within your specialty. You obtain certification by taking a national exam through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB). After you obtain national certification you can apply for licensure through the state’s board of nursing (BON). Licensure means that you are legally able to practice in a given state. This requires submitting transcripts from your FNP program, current licensure as an RN in the state where you are applying, a fee (varies by state), and proof of national certification.

Where Do FNPs Typically Work

FNPs have a broad patient population therefore you can work in a variety of settings. These can vary from private practices, community health settings, university health clinics, urgent care clinics, prison systems, occupational health and more. Further specialization in areas such as such as cardiology, nephrology, palliative care etc., can allow you to work in more specialized clinics or hospitals.

How Much Do Family Nurse Practitioners Earn

The expected salary for FNPs can vary by state, city, experience, and practice setting. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics nurse practitioners earn a median of $104,610 per year. Multiple sources show that FNPs can make between $97,990 and $117,298. In general, urban areas tend to pay more than rural areas. Private practices will often pay more than community health settings. You can also get other financial benefits such as loan forgiveness by working with medically underserved populations. You can get loan forgiveness through the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program, through Perkins Loan Forgiveness, or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program after qualifying. As you gain experience as an FNP you can negotiate a higher salary.

Online FNP Programs

Online FNP programs allow aspiring NPs to have more flexibility with their personal, professional, and educational lives. These programs allow you to complete coursework online and arrange your clinical hours in an area that is convenient for you. Depending on the program you may be required to come to campus occasionally.

What is a Typical FNP Curriculum

Course work varies a little by university. Most graduate nursing programs will require that you take one course in the following subjects, similar to what Boston College’s FNP program outlines:

  • Ethical Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Conceptual Basis for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Role of the Advanced Practice Nurse
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Research Methods for Advanced Practice Nursing
  • Advanced Pathophysiology
  • Family Theory

The Role of the FNP in the Primary Care Provider Shortage

With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act placing increased importance on preventative and primary care, along with the aging of the baby boomer population, there is a growing need for primary care providers. The Association of American Medical Colleges predicted an increased demand for physicians, specifically in the area of primary care between 2013 and 2025. As providers who are qualified to care for people of both genders throughout their lifespan FNPs provide a cost-effective solution to filling this gap and complementing the role of the physician.

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