A family nurse practitioner is a nurse that has received a master’s degree in a specialty practice and is licensed by the state to diagnose and treat illnesses and disease. Nurse practitioners can work with a licensed medical provider practice or establish his or her private practice in some states.
Role of a Family Nurse Practitioner
A family nurse practitioner is often considered a primary care provider as they can take care of any age patient, from well-baby, well-child checkups, prenatal care, adult care and care for aging populations. Family Nurse Practitioners are trained to provide many services, including:
•Diagnosing and treating illnesses and disease
•Developing a course of treatment for illnesses and disease
•Prescribing medication for patients
•Ordering diagnostic testing for patients and evaluating the results; ordering therapies as indicated
•Performing physical examinations on children and adults
•Educating on healthy lifestyles
Many family nurse practitioners even have hospital privileges, as allowed by state licensing boards.
Education and Certification for Family Nurse Practitioners
It requires several years of study to obtain a designation as a family nurse practitioner. A registered nurse (RN) must have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Then the nurse continues their education by getting a master’s degree in nursing. Some schools of higher education have a bachelor’s to master’s degree programs that include both degrees so a nurse can go straight through and obtaining the master’s degree. Some nurses wanting to become nurse practitioners will complete a doctorate program, though it is not a requirement.
A nurse desiring to become a family nurse practitioner must complete a graduate certificate program in family nursing. This is in addition to the master’s degree, and can take up to two years to complete. Study includes advanced health assessment, women and child care, adolescent and elderly care, and advanced pharmacology. The future nurse practitioner must select their specialty area of study as they will be diagnosing and treating diseases. Other than the family care specialty, some nurse practitioners specialize in pediatric care, elderly care, nurse midwifery care, infomatics, leadership, and health education.
After completing all the class work, the nurse must become certified by the state where they intend to practice.
Licensed nurse practitioners work in hospitals, medical facilities, doctor offices, or even in their own healthcare practice in some states. They can also work as traveling nurses or on cruise ships.
Employment Outlook and Salary
Many people prefer family nurse practitioners because they feel that the nurse practitioners are more personal and caring. With an aging population, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a growth of 23 percent until 2018. Family nurse practitioners are expected to be in high demand in some medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas. This, coupled with a decline in general practice physicians should also fuel the growth
Family Nurse Practitioners can expect to earn up to $84,000 per year, with an average salary of approximately $68,000. Most family nurse practitioners have a high degree of satisfaction with their jobs, as they are providing a needed medical service in their communities.