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How To Become A Family Nurse Practitioner

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an educated and highly-qualified advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who performs an array of duties.

If you want a nursing career that will put all of your nursing education and experience to the test, consider training to be an FNP.

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

Some of the duties performed by family nurse practitioners include:

  • Develop and implement treatment plans
  • Perform medical examinations
  • Order and run diagnostic tests
  • Diagnose illnesses
  • Perform minor procedures
  • Educate patients on preventative methods
  • Oversee and manage patient care
  • Prescribe medications
  • Serve as a primary point of contact for patients
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals
  • Refer patients to specialists as needed

Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?

Family nurse practitioners work in a diverse range of healthcare settings and with varying patient populations. If you qualify as an FNP, you could find yourself working in emergency rooms, outpatient facilities, community health centers, physicians' offices, and more.

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Are you ready to take the first steps on the long road to becoming a family nurse practitioner?

Here's what you need to do.

Step One: Get Your Nursing Degree

Aspiring nurse practitioners should start by applying for a bachelor's degree at an accredited school. There are bridge programs and accelerated programs available if you already have qualifications, and this will get you to your goal much sooner.

Step Two: Become a Registered Nurse

After graduating from a BSN program, it's time to complete The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Pay your $200, sit the exam, and if you're successful, you'll become a registered nurse! This is when doors start to open and if you have changed your mind about becoming a family nurse practitioner, you can find employment or focus on another specialty.

If not, move on to the next step.

Step Three: Acquire Some Experience

Before advancing toward your master's degree, you'll need some experience working as a registered nurse.

Check the requirements of the program in advance to make sure you know what you're getting into and what's required of you.

Step Four: Enroll in an Accredited Graduate Nursing Program

With your bachelor's degree and active RN license in hand, it's time to apply for a specialized master's degree program.

You can find master's degree programs for family nurse practitioners across the US. They combine classroom learning with clinical practice and will prepare you for a career in family nursing.

Step Five: Pass the Certification Exam

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offers a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) certification that will certify you as an FNP.

It costs $240 for AANP members and $315 for everyone else. It must be retaken every 5 years.

You can also sit a certification exam organized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Step Six: Find Work as A Family Nurse Practitioner

Once you have completed the steps above, you're ready to start applying for some family nurse practitioner work!

How Much Does A Family Nurse Practitioner Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for a nurse practitioner is $111,680. The BLS does not maintain specific records for all types of nurse practitioners, but FNPs can expect to earn a similar amount, if not more.

FNPs can also secure a range of benefits, including health insurance, life insurance, and overtime.

To increase your earning potential as a family nurse practitioner, consider moving to a different state or finding work in a big city. The average salary for FNPs in California, for instance, is over $135,000, which is significantly more than the average earned in states like South Carolina and Tennessee.

Your salary will increase with your experience. The more experienced you are, the more employers will pay to bring you on board.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?

The length of time that it takes to become a family nurse practitioner will depend on whether you study full-time or part-time and whether you participate in any accelerated nursing programs.

You can expedite the process with existing credits. Generally speaking, it could take anywhere from between 2 and 5 years to complete your nursing education, after which you can get certified and start collecting some invaluable experience.

Is Becoming An FNP Worth It?

Yes! It takes a lot of work and study, and education isn't cheap, but in the end, you'll find yourself in a lucrative and rewarding career. You can make a difference, learn subspecialties (see below), and earn a very respectable wage.

The need for nurse practitioners is expected to rise over the next decade. There are more nursing students in accredited programs than ever before, but the population is also increasing and nurses are experiencing a greater rate of burnout. It's a case of one-in-one-out, so skilled nurse practitioners, including FNPs, shouldn't have an issue finding employment.

After gaining some experience, you could even open your own private practice, giving you further options for personal and professional growth.

Is an FNP The Same as a Doctor?

No, FNPs are not on the same level as doctors. They don't earn as much, nor do they have as many responsibilities.

However, family nurse practitioners are increasingly acting as primary care providers. This is especially true in rural locations, where there are fewer restrictions holding them back and a greater need for highly-qualified practitioners.

Can I Complete a Family Nurse Practitioner Program Without Any Experience?

Before applying for a master's degree FNP program, you must have graduated from a BSN program. You also need a registered nursing license, as noted in our guide above.

There are accelerated programs to help you complete these steps quickly, but you can't simply jump straight into an MSN-FNP program straight out of high school

Can I Subspecialize as a Family Nurse Practitioner?

One of the great things about working as a family nurse practitioner is that you cover a wide range of patients, workplace settings, diseases, and duties. If you want to take things further, you can commit to a subspecialty at certain nursing schools.

A subspecialty will help you further your nursing education and expand your opportunities within the healthcare sector. Some of the areas you can specialize in include endocrinology, oncology, emergency medicine, and surgery.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you