If you find fulfillment in building long-term relationships with patients to the point that you personally know their kids or their other relatives by name and you exchange gifts on holidays and maybe invite each other during birthdays and other special occasions, then being a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) may just be the right specialization for you. FNPs or simply, family nurses, enjoy a rich and varied work environment, opportunities for personal growth, and not to mention, very competitive salaries. Also, the demand for family nurse practitioners is expected to increase quite significantly for the next ten years.
Requirements for becoming a family nurse
To become a family nurse practitioner, you need to take up further studies on top of being a registered nurse, typically a Master's in Science degree, which takes about one to two years; after which you will have to pass a state board of national certification exam. Agencies that offer certification include the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Nurses Credentialing Center.
The role of the family nurse
The family nurse specializes in family medicine and provides a wide range of patient care to different groups of patients, focusing on disease prevention and health promotion beginning in childhood and continues all throughout adulthood, being a witness to an individual's aging process. The family nurse performs many duties that are commonly performed only by physicians and cares for a patient through the cycle of family life.
The family nurse also provides specialty care such as perinatal and gynecological care, as well as a broad range of care services and is trained to diagnose and build treatment plans for chronic and acute diseases. He or she may prescribe interventions through physical exams, interviews, and diagnostic and lab testing, as well as prescribe medications and treatments to patients. Counseling and providing education are also part of the job.
Typical career path for FNPs
Before they became family nurse practitioners, a lot of FNPs practiced as RNs (registered nurses) as nursing staff in hospitals or other medical facilities. They usually go back to school after some years of experience and earn their master's degree to become an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN). APN have advanced training and commonly deliver some medical services that are reserved only for physicians.
One of the best perks about becoming a family nurse is being able to work in flexible and autonomous settings; unlike registered nurses family nurses can be their own boss. Family nurses can work in a wide variety of settings including private offices, nurse-managed healthcare centers, hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospice centers, clinics, schools, homes, and community-based settings. There are various specific roles that FNPs can take including patient and staff educator, case manager, researcher, policy-maker, and administrator.
Nurse practitioners in general get paid better than registered nurses. On average they make $20,000 more per year than the base salaries of RNs across the country. Because family nurses can manage their own practice, they can increase their income substantially with a bit of entrepreneurial savvy.
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