Any nurses looking to break away from shift life, advance their career, and gain another qualification may be interested in the role of a family nurse practitioner (FNP). One of the more popular choices when gaining a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), an FNP qualification can aid experienced nurses in becoming confident in dealing with a wide range of illnesses and conditions, holistically caring for people of all ages, from youngsters to the elderly. If you are interested in furthering your career, read on to discover the various roles and responsibilities of an FNP, as well as the rewards that you can get from choosing this career field.
What is an FNP?
There are many types of nurse practitioners with FNPs being one of the most common. Regardless of what age group you look after now, you can still study to become an FNP and gain the skills and experience needed to work with all age groups. The role of an FNP is constantly growing as the need for physicians continues to rise.
You are likely to work in a doctor’s practice, although FNPs can work in a variety of settings. You will be seeing patients on your own, diagnosing, and referring as needed. You will also have your own patients and care for those with long-term conditions, ensuring they are on the right treatment regime and correct medication.
Roles and Responsibilities of an FNP
As an FNP, you will be expected to carry out many roles, whilst working in a confidential and caring manner at all times. Some of the main roles and responsibilities are:
- Diagnosing acute illnesses, injuries, and infections and treating accordingly
- Accurately writing out prescriptions for patients, including correct dose and frequency
- Referring patients for diagnostic testing when appropriate, such as electrocardiograms and x-rays
- Providing guidance to patients who are struggling with their illness or condition
- Explaining medications to patients, including why they need to take their medication and how it may affect their body
- Looking after patient’s general health, including watching out for signs that they may need referrals for extra help with things such as smoking or alcohol issues
- Safeguarding vulnerable adults and children
- Creating and explaining treatment plans to patients and their families
- Taking accurate medical history including symptoms and previous diagnoses from patients, to ensure that a full history can be formed, and a proper diagnosis recorded
These are just a few of the roles and responsibilities that you may face as an FNP, but there are also many more. Some of these may be quite new to you, whilst others you may have already experienced in your previous nursing roles. As with any nursing degree, you will be given appropriate training, tests, and placement time to gain a great understanding of the role and you will not be left on your own until you feel confident to do so. A big part of being an FNP includes focusing on preventative care, personalising the treatment plan for each individual patient as needed.
Benefits of an FNP Role
There are many benefits of becoming an FNP and for those looking to broaden their learning scope and do something different, it is certainly a role to consider. Some of the main benefits include:
- Providing care for all age groups- Sometimes in nursing, a change can do you the world of good, especially if your role has begun to get monotonous. If you are working with a particular age group such as paediatrics or geriatrics, it may be that you want something different. A great benefit of becoming an FNP is that each day you could see a wide range of people, from children to teens to adults, you will always have variety. This will enhance your abilities to understand conditions from childhood illnesses all the way up to elderly health issues. Not only this, but your communication skills will also continue to improve as you begin to work with families and patients to provide holistic and person-centred care.
- Better income- For those looking to increase their salary and continue to stay in nursing, an FNP can boost their annual earnings by 25% – 30% once they have gained their MSN. The average salary of an FNP is around $105,000 annually, as well as added bonuses and benefits. This can increase and decrease depending on the state that you work in and whether you choose to work in the private or public sector.
- More responsibility- For those nurses who are confident in their role and want to have more responsibility, an FNP has just that. With the ability to see patients on your own and diagnose health issues and conditions, you will have plenty of opportunities to grow your confidence and become an experienced lone-working nurse. Many FNPs take charge and have their own clinics, working independently.
- Bridging the gap- As every nurse knows, there are not enough healthcare professionals for the ageing population and the number of patients that are now living with long-term conditions due to the advances in treatments and medications. With healthcare being a stressful role, not everyone is up to the task, meaning that we need to bridge the gap between physicians and nurses. FNPs do just this, taking on a nursing and physician role in one.
- Better working hours- Nursing shifts can take their toll on anyone and if you are wanting to spend fewer hours at work and more time with your family, an FNP role can also help you to achieve a better work-life balance. This is your chance to break away from those night shifts. You may work in a doctor’s office or hospital outpatient facility, meaning that your working hours are likely to be closer to an average 9-5 role. Many FNPs work part-time, which is ideal for those nurses looking to work less and get paid more.
Specialising as an FNP
FNPs are primarily there to care for those of all ages but this doesn’t mean that you cannot specialise. You may already work in a specialism that you do not want to leave, and if this is the case there still may be a job role out there for you. Some of the specialties that are available to FNPs include:
- Nurse Midwife
- Chronic Pain
- Public Health
This will depend on the facilities around where you live, as well as previous experience.
How to Become an FNP
Becoming an FNP means gaining your MSN. Luckily, many universities offer MSN-FNP courses, including Carson-Newman University. For those who cannot travel to and from university or take the time needed off work, their MSN-FNP course can be completed solely online, excluding placement hours. There are many advantages of gaining a degree online and many students are now choosing to further their career and themselves in this way. Choosing to study online means:
- No travel expenses or childcare costs for university days. You will also save extra money that would be used on all those much-needed coffees during long lectures and parking or transport costs.
- The ability to study as and when you have time. Your work will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This means no waking up at 6 am to travel to lectures. If you work best at night, you have the option to work at night. Total freedom is what most students enjoy most when studying online.
- The chance to earn a degree. For many reasons including money, time and travel, studying at a university and attending seminars and lectures isn’t something that is available to many people. If you live too far from a university, this doesn’t mean you cannot earn a degree. Studying online means you can study wherever you are, including home or your favourite café.
- Smaller classes mean more personalised support. When studying online, it is easier for universities to split students up into smaller groups to provide the support needed. Don’t believe that studying online means that you will not get the support you need!
- Studying online is more comfortable for many. Not everyone works at the same pace and some people need to spend less time on assignments than others. Having the ability to access everything online whenever you need, rather than trying to frantically scrawl page after page of information whilst your lecturer talks at you, is a great benefit for all.
You can look at completing your degree in as little as 32 months, with the ability to take more time if needed.
Becoming an FNP has many great advantages for nurses that want to earn more, spend more time at home with their friends and family, and expand their knowledge and skillset to become the best they can be. If you still cannot decide if this role is right for you, obtain a brochure for more information on what the course entails. With an online degree ready at your fingertips, there has never been a better time to gain an MSN and become an FNP. And with healthcare becoming more and more strained, the need for FNPs will always be on the rise, meaning you won’t be out of a job anytime soon.