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Family Nurse Practitioner

The benefits of becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) are numerous, as you will receive satisfaction from examining, diagnosing and treating your patients. This job is ever–challenging, and the very nature of this job is ever-changing. If you are already a working RN and desire to become a Family Nurse Practitioner you will need a Master's Degree. This can be achieved by attending an accredited campus or completing the course online.

If you are not in the medical field but plan to become of Family Nurse Practitioner and have a Bachelor's degree in another field, there are programs that will require approximately five courses from a Bachelor Degree program, and then you can enter and the Master of Science in Nursing program. If you are just graduating from high school, choose an accredited college that offers a Bachelor's and Master's degree in nursing. Make sure they offer a Family Nurse Practitioner program.

A day in the life of a nurse practitioner varies according to where you are employed. For instance, if you are a nurse practitioner working in the emergency room there are not very many slow days. You typically pick up a couple of charts as soon as you arrive at work and begin to see patients to assess their problems and choose what tests or lab work you want to order. Of course, you document everything and make further decisions about treatments. You may treat geriatric patients, adults, adolescents or infants depending on the focus of your Family Nurse Practitioner education.

A Family Nurse Practitioner who works in a physician's office can also have a hectic day even though the patients are scheduled by appointments. Typically a new patient would take about an hour to assess, while a regular patient would probably take 30 minutes. The unexpected can still happen when a regular patient becomes very ill and must be seen, or you may get a walk-in patient that must be fit into a busy schedule. Thankfully, many days consist of scheduled patients, and there is still a great sense of satisfaction in examining, diagnosing and treating your regular patients or meeting the new ones.

Family Nurse Practitioners are also employed by hospitals and as an advanced practice nurse their job duties includes ordering exams, diagnosis, treatments, discharge plans and consultations. They may work independently or be part of a team, or even manage their own clinic.

Educational programs vary between universities and a student who already has a BSN will need approximately 38 to 50 credit hours, which includes classroom hours and clinical hours. One clinical hour usually equals 56 actual working clinical hours. Online courses are also available in many of the excellent, accredited universities. For instance, the University of Virginia requires 37 classroom hours, one lab hour, 12 clinical hours, which equals a total of 672 hours and a total of 50 credits will be earned in order to graduate with your MSN Family Nurse Practitioner degree.

Admission Requirements for Family Nurse Practitioners

The admission criteria for a nurse who has a BSN is fairly similar between universities and includes:

  • BSN from an accredited university with GPA of 3.0 to 3.25 depending on the University
  • Official transcripts of all previous college classes mailed from the university
  • GRE scores if taken within five years but often waived if your GPA is 3.4 or higher in some universities
  • Minimum of one year of nursing experience
  • Two letters of reference from professional sources
  • Some universities require excellent writing skills
  • Community service and professional commitment
  • Written expression of goals
  • Evidence of current unencumbered registered nursing license
Curriculum for a Family Nurse Practitioner

There are several RN to MSN fast track programs for Associate’s degree RNs. For example, at St. Joseph's College online an RN may apply to the MSN program after completing the six courses below that are required in a Bachelor's degree nursing.

  1. Professional transitions for RN to BSN
  2. Nursing research
  3. Pharmacology
  4. Pathophysiology
  5. Evidence-Based Practice: Family Care & Health Promotion
  6. Community Nursing Theory

Once the nurse is accepted in the MSN program they will begin the upper-level courses.
For a BSN who enters a full-time Family Nurse Practitioner Program some universities have programs that can be completed in three or four semesters. Required courses are very similar between accredited universities.

The most common courses include:

  1. Advanced Pharmacology
  2. Physiology/Pathophysiology for Advanced Practice Nursing
  3. Epidemiology and Health Care
  4. Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnostic Reasoning
  5. Advanced Practice Nursing of Adult
  6. Concepts and Advanced Practice Nursing
  7. Primary Health Care of Infants & Children
  8. Theoretical Foundations in Nursing
  9. Clinical Decision-Making in Advanced Practice Nursing
  10. Research Methods & Evidence-based Practice
  11. Professionalism in Advance Practice Nursing
  12. Advance Practice Nursing Integration
  13. Primary Care Seminar and Preceptorship
  14. APRN Role Transition

Not all universities require each of these courses, but some of the material is the same with a different course name. Some of the goals of the Family Nurse Practitioner program include preparing a nurse to assess and diagnose, then treat common acute or chronic health problems in individuals. They should be able to identify epidemiologic routes for healthcare problems, which may affect an individual, a family member or a community. They must also develop strategies that are appropriate to promote health and prevent illness.

There are several Family Nurse Practioner online programs as well. College courses may be taken online and clinical hours can be completed as you work in the area of your study. Take some time to see what is available in your area, then request additional information from those schools with FNP programs that interest you.

Funding your Education for a MSN Degree as a FNP

The primary ways to get funding for your education is through scholarships, student loans and tuition reimbursement, if it is offered by the hospital where you are employed. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing offers a list of various associations that grant scholarships for graduate students, which varies greatly as to amount and student requirements. Nursing students may qualify for a $5000 scholarship program from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing also.

Under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is the National Health Service Corps, and they have a scholarship program for some particular specialties, which include nurse practitioners.

You can apply for federal student aid by completing the FAFSA application, which determines your eligibility for state and school aid, plus there are some private financial aid providers available as well. Your eligibility is decided on several factors, such as the cost of attendance to college and any expected family contribution.

Approximately 30 states offer cost sharing grants that operate as a loan repayment program for primary care providers by the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP). These are states that suffer from professional shortages, so the nurse must check the website to look on the map to see if they are qualified.

Licensing Requirements/Legal and Practice Issues for Family Nurse Practitioners

Your state board of nursing has particular requirements for certification as an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner. A nurse must hold a valid Registered Nurse License. The nursing board must receive your official sealed transcripts from the University where you graduated. Educational requirements for the completion of a nurse practitioner educational program registered in your state to qualify for certification must be completed. Most states require proof of malpractice insurance or an exemption and electronic fingerprinting is also required.

Certification as a nurse practitioner by one of the following national certifying organizations is necessary:

  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses
  • National Certification Corporation
  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation

If you are a member of one of these organizations the cost of this certification exam will be less. To become certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANPCP) fill out their online application. The certification exams are offered to graduates. Impending graduates from an accredited university may apply for the exam prior to their graduation, but will not be able to take the test until they have graduated. Each applicant must have 500 supervised clinical hours supervised by a faculty advisor from your university.

Evidence is also required for the completion of the APRN core courses, which include; Advanced Physical Assessment, Advanced Pharmacology and Advanced Pathophysiology.

An official transcript showing the degree awarded or an interim transcript showing completed academic coursework–to–date is also required and must be sent by the University Registrar. A candidate cannot sit for the test until they have completed their program and their application is approved. It is possible to take practice test prior to the official examination. The applicant will be notified by mail and candidate has 120 days to take the final computer examination. AANP members can take the test for $240 when approved and nonmembers are charged $315.

In some states licensed nurse practitioners are allowed to prescribe and dispense medicine if they submit written evidence of 40 contact hours of education and pharmacology and clinical management drug therapy within a three-year period. There is an additional license fee for prescribing and dispensing. In addition, you will need to apply to the Drug Enforcement Administration for a DEA number. You cannot get a DEA number until you have received authority from the nursing board. Once you receive your DEA number you must notify the nursing board by sending a copy of the registration number.

If you are Family Nursing Practitioner is in a compact state you will be allowed to practice in other compact states. The cost for a license varies from $150 to $275 and a dispensing license is typically $50 to $100.

Malpractice insurance is very important as you do not have to do anything wrong to get sued. The company you work for probably has malpractice insurance, but it will not fully protect you. The CNA and the Nurses Service Organization are major providers of malpractice insurance, currently insuring approximately 25,000 FNPs. Their webpage fully explains every aspect of liability for FNPs.

Job Availability, Projected Growth and Salaries for FNPs

When you choose to get your Master's degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner, you are entering into a profession that offers a great deal of satisfaction as you examine, diagnose and treat patients, and it is also a choice that may enhance your income.

As of May 2013 the average annual salary for a family nurse practitioner was $95,070. Salaries are different in different states, and they depend on your education and your years of experience. There are 113,370 employed nurse practitioners at this time, and the highest percentage of work is in a physician's offices.

There are also many positions available in outpatient care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals, home healthcare services, schools, colleges, universities and professional schools. The hospitals have several areas where they use FNPs, such as emergency rooms or they may be responsible for patients that are admitted to the Hospitalists. This would require making daily rounds, preforming detailed patient histories, collaborating with a multidisciplinary team and providing detailed patient discharge plans.

You can also make a huge difference in the lives of the elderly population. As the baby boomer age has arrived, the number of healthcare providers clearly needs to expand, as there is a huge doctor shortage, and this is a perfect place for Family Nurse Practitioners to fulfill a much-needed role.

Whether you are a nurse with an Associate’s degree, one with a Bachelor's degree or a high school student just entering college, searching out the available Master’s level nursing programs is a decision that can further your career greatly. The work of a Family Nurse Practitioner can vary greatly depending on the type of work you choose.

It is important to assess accredited university programs that fit your needs. You can begin by searching our school listings below and contact them directly for further information. When you find a college or university that meet your needs it is time to go take a look at their campus and talk with someone at the office of student affairs. It always pays to be well-informed when embarking on an exciting career as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

Select a school below to get more information.