Family Nurse Practitioner Information Guide

Family nurse practitioners are responsible for assisting doctors with medical procedures, and providing education and information to patients and their families. FNPS work in a variety of settings such as community health clinics, private practices, outpatient clinics, hospitals, and women’s health centers. Doctors rely on family nurse practitioners to provide quality primary care and other health care services.

In order to become a family nurse practitioner, you must complete a graduate-level program designed specifically for registered nurses preparing for FNP certification. These programs are highly specialized and require two to three years of study. You’ll take courses in family nursing intervention, management of acute and chronic illnesses, and primary health care concepts and practice.

Based on your professional experience and the setting in which you work, FNPs can earn highly competitive salaries. According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse practitioners can earn up to $64,000 annually. Obtaining a master’s degree in nursing is great next step in your medical career. If you know that nursing is the right profession for you, going back to school to become an advanced practice nurse is an investment in yourself and your future.

Top Online Family Nurse Practitioner Degrees

Family nurse practitioners are advanced practiced registered nurses (RN) who work closely with pediatricians and other healthcare specialists to provide care for families. Typically, an FNP will have knowledge of pediatrics and neonatal nursing. To become an FNP, a master's degree in nursing is required. The following schools all offer Master of Science in nursing degrees through online accredited programs.

Georgetown University
MSN: Family Nursing
Georgetown University › Georgetown University's online MSN: family nurse practitioner program propels licensed registered nurses (with a BSN) to their graduate degrees in 17-24 months. Students study through a combination of live online seminars and hands-on clinical opportunities (coordinated near students' homes), also gaining all the benefits of being a Georgetown student, including access to the university's prestigious alumni network.
University of Cincinnati
MSN: Women's Nursing
MSN: Nurse Midwifery
University of Cincinnati › The Adult Nursing, Nurse Midwifery, Nurse Administration, and Women's Health Nursing programs offered by the University of Cincinnati are excellent programs for an RN seeking to expand his or her career opportunities. These programs are designed to provide and challenging and stimulating classroom environment preparing students for a wide range of careers ranging from family nursing, adult care, and prominent leadership roles.
Maryville University
MSN: Family Nurse Practice
MSN: Adult Geriatric Nurse Practice
Maryville University › An MSN in Family Nurse Practice at Maryville University helps prepare family nurse practitioners to manage patient populations in medical, surgical, and critical care. The MSN in Adult Geriatric Nurse Practice program is designed to develop nurses for helping patients throughout all stages of life.
South University
MS in Nursing
South University › The Master of Science in Nursing from South University enables you to enhance your knowledge based necessary for family nursing. The program will help you develop clinical teaching skills and allow you to reach your educational goals while still being able to continue your career and meet your family and personal responsibilities.
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Kaplan University
MSN: Nurse Administration
MSN: Nurse Education
Kaplan University › The MSN program at Kaplan University is designed for family nurses seeking to grow their leadership skills within the healthcare field. Once a candidate has completed the program, he or she will be prepared to pursue positions in administration, faculty, or staff development. Students will be challenged in this program with courses ranging from organizational theory, health care finance, human resources, amongst others that them to meet the demands of healthcare management.
Capella University
MSN: Nurse Education
RN-MSN: Nurse Education
Capella University › The MSN in Nurse Education from Capella University prepares family nurses to educate future generations of nurses in methods that have been proven highly successful. As the demand for nurses continues to grow, the demand for instructors to teach them will also grow. The MSN in Nurse Education Bridge program allows nurses with a Bachelor degree in a field other than nursing to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing.

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Healthcare professional

What is a family nurse practitioner program?

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) program is a general health degree that allows you to diagnose and treat patients without having an MD. In most states, family nurse practitioners are allowed to work as closely with patients as a general doctor. FNPs are similar to a general doctor and can see people of all ages. You may work in a clinic where you see a mix of babies, young children, teens, and adults. Family nurse practitioners are former nurses who want to up their earning potential and job responsibilities. These programs are designed for those who already have a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). Find out more about the different types of FNP degrees below:

Are there prerequisites for a family nurse practitioner program?

A student needs their BSN and at least one to two years of working as a nurse. It does not matter where you’ve worked, whether it’s in the ER or for a general family doctor. The program works with students who already have a background in nursing and are now learning how to serve as the primary-care resource for a family.

How do I become a family nurse practitioner?

  1. Get your BSN. This is the first step to becoming a licensed RN. An associate’s degree in nursing is accepted into some family nurse practitioner programs, but that is not always the case. Check with your individual potential program before committing. This will take anywhere from two to four years depending if you’re getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing. These classes are a combination of class work and clinicals, where you’re working hands-on with patients. Expect to take classes like biology, physiology, and patient assessment.
  2. Get your license to work as a RN. You must have a license to legally work as a nurse in the United States. You have to take a national exam and may still have to take an exam given by the state or your employer. The national exam is administered by the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
  3. Gain experience working as a RN. Most programs require one to two years of field work before accepting you into a family nurse practitioner program. This is so a nurse learns how to interact with patients and learns how to function in a professional medical setting. Registered nurses wear many hats and these one to two years of experience will give you a taste of the types of cases you’ll come across working as a family nurse practitioner.
  4. Select your family nurse practitioner program. For some, an FNP program is included in Master of Nursing program. Others must attend a Doctor of Nursing program. Both of these programs
    are essentially the same thing and prepare you to work as a family nurse practitioner. This will
    be a mix of course work in a class room setting and clinicals. These clinicals will be similar to
    those of a doctor in residency. You will see a wide group of patients and learn advanced skills
    for diagnosing and treating patients.
  5. Become certified to work as a FNP. Not all employers require this, but if you are starting out and do not have job placement through your program, you should become certified. FNP certification is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. In addition to this, you must renew your certification every 5 years with continuing education courses.

What kind of classes will I take as a nurse practitioner?

  • Adult and geriatric care
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Health assessment
  • Research methods
  • Primary care

Can I continue to work as nurse while going to school to be a family nurse practitioner?

In fact, there are many programs through traditional schools and online programs that are designed for nurses who are already working in the field. In this case, it will take you about two years to finish a family nurse practitioner program. It may take longer if you are taking one to two classes per semester. Registered nurses are encouraged to go to school to become a family nurse practitioner. The payoff and reward are well worth it.

How is an Online Family Practitioner Program Designed?

The majority of work will be done on your own time, at a computer. Instead of attending classes and learning with your peers from an instructor, you will learn on your own. There are still assignments to turn in and exams. This offers students autonomy, which is viable because you’ve worked as a nurse for some time. You do not need an instructor going over the basics when you have been in the field yourself and know how to apply new techniques to your existing skills.

Details about an online FNP program

  • Most full time programs take about 18 months, while part time programs are completed in about 24 months. This is for FNP programs where students have already worked as registered nurses. Most online FNP programs are specifically for people who are currently nurses and looking to improve their job opportunities.
  • The majority of the program will be web-based. At times, a program may have live classes, which are streamed online from seminars or lectures going on at the campus. Online programs are popular for many traditional campuses because it allows alumni to return to school without quitting their jobs or being a full time student. You need to have a reliable computer and Internet connection to excel in an online family nurse practitioner program.
  • You can review your work and lectures or seminars at your convenience. This is especially helpful when studying for exams and sitting for your licensing exam. The online format allows you to revisit material, at any time you wish.
  • At a traditional school, students in a FNP program will have access to the libraries, computers and resources that all students have access to. This can come in helpful when you need a quiet place to study or need specific library books to help you with your work.
  • You will complete clinical trials, just as you would if you were in a traditional FNP program. The majority of the time, these clinicals are set up by the school. If you are in a large city with multiple medical communities, you may want to ask about where you’ll be placed for clinicals. Some programs allow students to put in a request early on in the program, so you don’t end up spending half of your day driving to the medical facility.

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