A Family Nurse Practitioner, also referred to as an FNP, is defined as a registered nurse who has had specialized clinical and educational training in family practice.
However, compared to a registered nurse (RN), a nurse practitioner will have a high level of training that would have taken place in a clinical setting and the classroom.
Both roles are still highly valued in the medical world. The specialized training a Family Nurse Practitioner receives teaches them how to work closely with both adults and children, especially young families.
Most of the time, this will be in the context of a clinical setting or family practice. An FNP has a large amount of responsibility for their patients.
Today, we will be taking a closer look into the role of a Family Nurse Practitioner, what they actually do, and what it takes to be successful.
Family Nurse Practitioners work closely with young families within a clinical setting or family practice. They work with their patients in order to maintain health and wellness in the present and over the long term, paying close attention to preventative care.
A large number of FNPs may end up working in underserved communities and populations by choice. An FNP will usually work under the direct guidance of a physician.
However, more states and other areas around the world are giving FNPs the option to work independently. This is due to the excessive shortage of doctors, predominantly within the field of family practice. Click here to learn how FNPs affect the shortage of primary care providers.
Dealing with patients of different ages and backgrounds is the norm for a registered Family Nurse Practitioner. Many FNPs will work closely with young parents and families of all ages.
They will visit their patients on a regular basis during pregnancy and once the baby is born, until they are around two years old. They will need to be able to help parents develop good relationships and understand their child’s needs, make good choices, and believe in their ability to succeed.
FNPs are usually responsible for tracking and compiling the health history of one or more family members over a long period of time, which will lead to long-term, deep and compassionate patient relationships.
What They Do
The educational and practical experience a Family Nurse Practitioner receives gives them a deep understanding on what it is like to work with a wide range of individuals, which is essential, because the patients seen in a family practice are exceptionally diverse.
This training means that the scope of practice for an FNP is fairly broad. As mentioned previously, the key focus of a Family Nurse Practitioner is to monitor the health and wellness of their patients of all ages, as well as treat minor acute illnesses.
This will usually significantly differ from other specialized Nurse Practitioners, which tend to focus on mental health, pediatrics or gerontology.
Where They Work
There is a lot of age diversity in the patients a Family Nurse Practitioner will see, which gives them the option to work in a wide range of different settings. Many FNPs choose to work with underserved communities.
They are expected to have a large amount of knowledge about the population of the community that they serve, as well as the challenges their patients commonly face. Other FNPs will choose to work in community or private ambulatory clinics.
This is very different to a critical care Nurse Practitioner, who mainly works in a hospital setting. However, both roles require a deep understanding of different cultures and the issues that communities and populations face.
Skills and Personality Traits
Education is essential to become a Registered Nurse or a Nurse Practitioner, but this will be a waste of time if a student lacks the skills and personality traits that are required for success.
Family Nurse Practitioners workvery closely with their patients and will often remain with them through many stages of their life, so good communication and empathy are vital skills.
FNPs also have to deal with and treat acute illnesses and maintain overall wellness, so they need to be exceptionally organized and have the ability to keep track of issues in regard to medication interactions and other encounters over a long period of time.
Being able to manage stress is also important when working with children.
In order to qualify and work as a Family Nurse Practitioner, a nurse will need to have graduated with a Master’s degree. This is how and why the education and experience of a Nurse Practitioner differs greatly from a Registered Nurse.
In the future, all NPs will be required to have a doctorate level degree to become certified. Students who aspire to become a Family Nurse Practitioner will need to study a program that focuses on that specialty.
However, some Nurse Practitioner programs will be more general and will not offer the specific information for FNPs. In these cases, graduates will need to carry out additional clinical experience to obtain the knowledge to be officially recognized as an FNP.
Gaining a Master’s has become easier due to technology and a deeper understanding of individual needs.
In order to be fully flexible, continue work and save money, Registered Nurses can choose to get their Master’s degree via online study. However, the quality and accreditation of online schools and education will need to be researched thoroughly before taking this route.
Upon completing their education, an FNP will be able to obtain family practice certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center.
This will require a fee and an exam. Those who pass their exam will become a certified Family Nurse Practitioner.
Life as a Family Nurse Practitioner is intense and requires a lot of responsibility, however it can be equally as rewarding.
Having the right education is essential, but so are the desirable skills and personality traits of an individual. Researching and understanding the role of an FNP is vital before following this career path.