What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

Nursing is a career that is always going to be in demand. With the field growing and expanding daily, there are now more advanced certifications than ever before. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) play a big role in the care of families, children, and adults in that they work alongside doctors to help provide the care and service needed for patients to fully recover. Becoming an FNP is considered to be a specialized nursing field and is vital for those that want to make a true difference in the world that they are part of.

What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

A family nurse practitioner is a nurse that has had special, advanced training in a clinical setting and family practice. These individuals have the ability to help patients understand what care they are receiving, understand what method of action is going to be taken to get them better, and to help patients of all ages and backgrounds. They work in both clinical and hospital settings and may even work in the office of a pediatrician or a general practice doctor.

These nurse practitioners are highly skilled, highly trained, and have the ability to write prescriptions, do diagnostic tests, order tests, and advise patients about what course of treatment is going to be best for their individual needs. A family nurse practitioner might work under a physician or in an office or setting where there are physicians around to help aid in the care of patients.

What does a Family Nurse Practitioner do?

A family nurse practitioner does many of the same tasks as a doctor and may work with patients to help create treatment plans, to give medication or treatment for their ailments and more. They may also work to help perform routine checkups and tests, and work to create plans to help patients be as healthy as possible. They monitor the health and wellness of patients of all ages and even help to educate the community and to meet both the long term and short term needs of their patients.

Many family nurse practitioners work with the same company for a long period of time, building a relationship with their patients and their families. These professionals are compassionate, focused on creating a bond with their patients, and comfortable working with a wide range of patients.

Skills Necessary:

  • Attention to detail
  • Dedication
  • Compassion
  • Ability to effectively manage stress
  • Empathy
  • Communication

Why are Family Nurse Practitioners so Important?

Family nurse practitioners fill a unique role. They do much of the same things as a doctor but they are also able to dedicate more time to each patient as they often have a smaller patient load. Their priorly-learned nursing skills also help them professionally manage patients in the wide range of facilities where FNPs can work, including hospitals, doctors’ offices and more.

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

There are a few different certifications and skill sets that a nurse must possess in order to fill the role of a family nurse practitioner. These specific skills set them apart from other nurses and helps them achieve the title of family nurse practitioner.

Family Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements and Training

Nurses that want to take the family nurse practitioner exam must at least have a master’s degree in nursing (MSN). They must also meet the requirements for clinical hours and hands-on experience. Many nurses that are already working as a nurse use their daily work as their clinical hours and experience. In the future, nurse practitioners will likely have to have a doctorate degree to get this certification.

Nurses that have a family nurse practitioner certification or that have completed the required classes and clinical hours can then obtain their certification from one of two places. They can either seek certification from the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center or from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

Classes the FNP Might Take:

  • Advanced Pathophysiology – this class focuses on the organ systems and how they work together and their normal functions.
  • Chronic Illness Concepts – this class focuses on common chronic illnesses, how they affect the body, and the trajectory of the illness as it works its way through the organ systems.
  • Pediatric Health Promotion – this is going to focus on how to promote the maintenance of children’s health and what checks and doctors visits are necessary to make sure that a child is healthy.
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care – this is a class that is focused on the care of adult or geriatric patients and how to deal with the chronic health issues that many adults face on a daily basis.

It is important when choosing your program that you take the time to find one that is ACEN accredited or CCNE accredited. This type of program generally requires anywhere from 30 to 36 total scholastic hours plus your clinical hours before you can take the nurse practitioner test. It takes less time to complete this type of program for those that already have a BSN in nursing or can take up to 4 or 5 years to complete if you are only going part-time.

For those who are already nurses, taking classes online is a great flexible choice. For those that are not working as nurses, going to classes in person allows you more hands-on, first-hand knowledge. It also allows you to ask questions directly to your professor which may be helpful. No matter what delivery method you choose, the most important aspect is to make sure your program is fully accredited.

FNP Career Outlook

Nursing is a career that is always growing and will continue growing for years to come. There are plenty of positions for family nurse practitioners, especially in offices and geographical areas where there are not a large number of physicians. FNPs can additionally increase their earnings and further their education by obtaining a specialty.

Many family nurse practitioners work in a doctor’s office with an area that matches the NP’s specialty or emphasis. This means that someone that has focused on children might work in a pediatrician’s office while someone that focused on the elderly might work in geriatrics or a skilled nursing facility.


  • Managing chronic conditions that are persistent and that last for a long period of time
  • Overseeing the health of their patients
  • Treating minor or acute injuries
  • Providing episodic care
  • Providing health and wellness services to patients
  • Admit/discharge patients
  • Prescribe medicine

FNPs often work alongside other professionals and may work on cases that span years or a single day. FNPs have a broad range of knowledge and are valued members of a huge range of different facilities and places of work.

Salary and Employment

This is a profession that is constantly growing and changing, allowing for a consistent and more-than-decent salary. The average pay for a family nurse practitioner is around $90,000 per year with higher salaries in states like California and New York. An FNP can expect to make more in a private practice than in a hospital or other state-owned facility.

Top 5 Specialties

1. Neonatology – these professionals work with regular newborns as well as babies born prematurely. They’ll focus their coursework on the individual needs and special care required by such infants.

2. Emergency Medicine – these professionals focus on working in an emergency setting, specifically in a hospital’s emergency room. They’re required to work in a challenging and fast-paced environment each day and must work to hone their skills and reflexes.

3. Oncology – these professionals work with patients that have been diagnosed with cancer. Their course of study will include how to administer care, manage the different kinds of cancers and their side effects, and more.

4. Women’s Health – nurse practitioners that choose this specialty can expect to learn how to administer breast exams, perform women’s wellness checks, and more.

5. Gerontology – these individuals train to work with geriatric patients and may work in a nursing home or other skilled nursing facility.

Family Nurse Practitioner Resources


Q: Is a DNP degree required to become a nurse practitioner?

A: Currently it is not. There’s talk to make a doctorate degree in nursing a requirement to take the nurse practitioner exam but currently, a master’s degree is all you need.

Q: What are some of the most common nurse practitioner subsets?

A: There are many different focuses or subsets of the nurse practitioner career, the most common being a family nurse practitioner. Other popular specialties include pediatrics, women’s health, and psychiatric medicine.

Q: Do you need nursing experience?

A: Yes, you do have to have nursing experience within the last five years in order to qualify to take the family nurse practitioner certification exam.

Q: Is board certification necessary?

A: Yes, if you want to be able to practice as a nurse practitioner you have to be board certified. Your courses will help prepare you for your certification test and will help you to find the right study method to help you succeed.

Helpful Sources

Here are a few different sources where you can find more information about nursing, becoming a family nurse practitioner and what the future of nursing holds.

Nurse Journal

American Journal of Nursing

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Family Nurse Practitioner Scholarship

Apply here for the RN to BSN Program scholarship!

List of Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

Here is a list of the best Family Nurse Practitioner Programs.

The nurse practitioner career is for those who are looking for a nursing program that will further their experience, help them to broaden their horizons, and truly become the nurse that they want to be. Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a fantastic career path that is going to open your horizons and allow you to work in a wide range of different facilities, settings, and offices so that you can get the best experience and career outlook possible.

For those that want to learn more about becoming a family nurse practitioner, contact us today!

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