Family Nurse Practitioner: Education and Career Information
If you are interested in working in the medical field and want to take your education and training up a notch, consider becoming a family nurse practitioner. Although the role is that of a nurse, it entails so much more, and is a lucrative and exciting career step for the future. Many people in this role are satisfied, as it is the bridge between nursing and becoming a physician.
What is a family nurse practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is a registered nurse (RN) who can operate much like a doctor, but is under the supervision of a physician. They diagnose illnesses, can write prescriptions, conduct routine wellness checkups, order labs, assist in surgical procedures and create a wellness regimen for patients to follow. A family nurse practitioner is someone who can operate as a primary care point person for their medical care. An FNP can work in a number of places, including private practices, doctor’s offices, private homes, clinics, schools or in a hospital setting.
How much does a family nurse practitioner earn?
The salary of a family nurse practitioner fluctuates with the amount of experience and education they may have, in addition to the type of facility in which they are working. On average, the salary for an FNP in 2012 was $90,629. For those in specialty areas, the pay was a lot higher. Advanced degrees also make a huge difference in the pay scale. On the high end of the scale, a family nurse practitioner can earn as much as $126,000.
What skills are needed to become a family nurse practitioner?
Skills needed to become a family nurse practitioner include:
Speaking: A family nurse practitioner should be able to speak clearly and effectively to a wide range of individuals to get their point across. They conduct a number of education and training sessions, and should be able to convey information efficiently.
Problem solving: A family nurse practitioner should be able to assess and solve a number of problems administratively and for the patient. They should be able to work through a diagnosis and come up with a viable and effective resolution.
Decision Making: A family nurse practitioner should be able to make sound decisions based on the information they have gathered to assist the patient in their well care regimen.
Science: A family nurse practitioner should have a firm grasp of science in order to diagnose problems. They should also be willing and able to keep up with any new developments in the field.
Monitoring: Monitoring patients and their health status is one of the main duties of this role. A family nurse practitioner should be able to recommend additional visits and stay on top of any illnesses or injuries that are present.
Critical Thinking: A family nurse practitioner should be able to work with other healthcare professionals to apply critical thinking skills to ensure the patient has the best care and solution for their issues.
Time Management: The family nurse practitioner must be able to organize and coordinate a number of items within different time frames effectively. They should be a champion in time management.
Negotiation: The powers of negotiation are important in this role. A family nurse practitioner should be able to successfully negotiate with clients, vendors and other healthcare personnel in getting things done.
Customer Service: When working with a diverse set of individuals, being the best at customer service is key. This person should be able to speak and communicate with anyone, operating at the highest standards of customer service and respect.
Technology: Having a firm grasp of technology is a must. Every record and transaction that occurs between a physician and patient is now computerized. Knowing how to use the software and equipment that is used in medical offices and hospitals is a must in being successful in this position. Taking classes to stay abreast of new developments in equipment and software is important on the administrative and physician side of things.
Additionally, this role should have some background in psychology, medicine and dentistry, counseling, mathematics and English.
This is a highly specialized position, so there are a number of years of internship and clinical practicum experience required. The number of hours will fluctuate based on the individual program and specialty area, but generally, the internship component will consist of at least two years at a minimum.
The educational path for a family nurse practitioner is that of a registered nurse, with more intensive coursework along the way. The first step in becoming a family nurse practitioner is to enroll in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This is a four-year program that will teach and develop students on the fundamentals of nursing. Typical coursework for the BSN program includes:
•Anatomy & Physiology
•Mental Health Nursing
•Principles of Ethics
•Critical Care Nursing
•Community Health Nursing
Once the program is finished, students must sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Once passed and the student is a licensed RN, they can begin working to gain experience. After they have obtained the RN, they must enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Coursework in this program includes courses in family nursing theory, intervention, leadership preparation, acute and chronic illness management, primary healthcare concerns and research.
Once the master’s program is completed, the RN must obtain board certification in family practice through the American Nurses Credentialing Center of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, which will result in becoming a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner (CFNP).
These credentials must be updated after a certain number of years, which requires ongoing continuing education to stay on top of the latest trends and news in the industry.
Although there is extensive work to be done to achieve this designation, it can be worth the time and effort if you are someone who has thought about going to medical school, but did not want to sacrifice the years it would take in schooling. An advanced nursing designation that will allow you to care for patients may be the next best thing.
Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.
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