What is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

While exploring potential nursing careers, one may ask “what is an FNP?” A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in providing family-focused care across the span of their patients’ lifetime, from infants and adolescents, to adults. Family nurse practitioners can provide a broad range of services as a primary care provider, or specialize in areas of care such as diabetes management by earning additional certifications. 

Seeking a career as an FNP may be rewarding in more ways than one. In addition to the benefit of doing meaningful work to promote the health of families, the profession is in need of new nurses. According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for APRNs of all specialties is on the rise. Employment of nurse practitioners is expected to increase 52% from 2019 to 2029, above the average for all occupations. 

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Simmons’ Online MSN — FNP Program

Designed for currently licensed RNs, Nursing@Simmons enables aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners to earn an MSN online from Simmons University.


Prepare to Become an FNP With Georgetown University

Become a Family Nurse Practitioner in 27 months by earning your Master of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown University. RN and BSN required.


Earn an M.S. in Nursing online from the Wegmans School of Nursing

The Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner (PCFNP) program from the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College can be completed in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s in nursing, RN license, and clinical experience required.


Nursing@USC prepares RNs to become FNPs

In as few as 21 months, you can earn your MSN online through Nursing@USC. This FNP program prepares you to deliver advanced care while addressing social and environmental factors. RN and BSN required.

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What does an FNP do?

The role of an FNP includes many responsibilities, such as: 

  • Maintaining patient records 
  • Examining patients
  • Ordering diagnostic tests and prescribing medications
  • Developing treatment plans and providing treatment 

FNPs can work in many different health care environments, such as physicians’ offices, community clinics, and other health care systems. There, they consult with other health care professionals to develop or improve a patient’s plan of care.

Should I become a family nurse practitioner? 

Earning a master’s in nursing (MSN) degree allows registered nurses (RNs) to expand their career opportunities by pursuing APRN roles, which includes the position of an FNP. As an APRN, you can take on increased responsibilities, work with specialized populations, and explore areas of health care that you are passionate about. 

The role of an FNP is especially important as health care systems evolve. With more patients needing complex care and the increased needs of the aging baby boomer population, FNPs are being tasked with providing primary care services in place of, or in coordination with other health care providers.  

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Factors to Consider When Choosing an FNP Program 

Before a nurse enrolls in an FNP program, there are a few factors to consider: 

  • Is FNP the right area of focus for you?
  • Do you know how to identify a reputable program?
  • What type of degree program is right for you?

Goals

Working as an FNP is one area of focus among many for advanced practice registered nurses. Each specialty comes with its own patient population, responsibilities and required skills. Before enrolling in an FNP program, it’s important to determine that this path aligns with your interests and career goals.

FNPs typically do the following: 

  • Work with patients of all ages and backgrounds
  • Provide primary care services 
  • Collaborate with other providers when specialized care is needed

If you’d be happy to take on these responsibilities and enjoy working with people, then an FNP career may be a fit for you. If you’re still a little unsure about your choice to work as an FNP, make a list of pros and cons or reach out to FNPs with years of experience to get an idea of what to expect.

Accreditation

When choosing an FNP program, it’s important to make sure that it is accredited. Doing so can help to find employment after graduation, as many employers require that nurses earn an accredited MSN degree. And if you plan to earn the Family Nurse Practitioner Certification (FNP-BC) offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, you’ll need to have a master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited FNP program. 
There are two primary organizations offering accreditation for NP programs. These include the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Types of Degree

Depending on your level of education and experience, there are multiple types of degree programs that can help you achieve your goal of becoming an FNP. Types of degree programs for earning an MSN include

Apart from traditional on-campus advanced degree programs, there are online FNP programs and ones that combine in-person and online learning. Your personal circumstances can also help you narrow down your list of program options. For example, if you are a full-time RN whose desired school is located hundreds of miles from where you live, you may prefer to enroll in a part-time online program so that you don’t have to relocate and can fit your studies around your work schedule.

Is a family nurse practitioner degree the best option for me?

Individuals who work as family nurse practitioners tend to be passionate working with diverse populations as well as focusing on health promotion and disease prevention, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Additionally, the BLS states that all APRNs—including FNPs—benefit from having the following traits and skills

  • Communication skills
  • Ability to think critically
  • Attention to detail
  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Ability to be a leader
  • Resourcefulness 

These skills can be developed in the classroom or while students are completing field experience. 

To enroll in an on campus or online FNP program, there are also certain education and experience requirements you must be able to meet. Generally, students applying to an FNP master’s degree program must hold an RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree with at least a 3.0 GPA from an accredited nursing school.

Applicants are also required to provide a resume, transcripts and letters of recommendation. These requirements will vary based on the program, making it important for aspiring FNPs to check with their schools of interest before applying. 

What is the value of an FNP degree?

Earning an MSN degree may provide potential for growth and open a variety of career opportunities for nursing professionals. While enrolling in an FNP program is an added cost for working nurses, completing the program and obtaining licensure as an APRN may open up different career opportunities and allow you to pursue certain certifications. This may impact salary earned. 

In addition to possibly gaining more autonomy as a nurse, FNPs may experience an increase in income. 

According to BLS data from May 2019: 

Sponsored Online FNP Programs

Sponsored

Simmons’ Online MSN — FNP Program

Designed for currently licensed RNs, Nursing@Simmons enables aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners to earn an MSN online from Simmons University.


Prepare to Become an FNP With Georgetown University

Become a Family Nurse Practitioner in 27 months by earning your Master of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown University. RN and BSN required.


Earn an M.S. in Nursing online from the Wegmans School of Nursing

The Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner (PCFNP) program from the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College can be completed in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s in nursing, RN license, and clinical experience required.


Nursing@USC prepares RNs to become FNPs

In as few as 21 months, you can earn your MSN online through Nursing@USC. This FNP program prepares you to deliver advanced care while addressing social and environmental factors. RN and BSN required.

Sponsored

How do I obtain a family nurse practitioner degree?

To become an FNP, nurses must complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a family nurse practitioner focus. If you already have an MSN, there are doctoral programs available.

There are multiple types of programs to accommodate the different needs of nursing students. You can opt for a traditional in-person, full-time MSN program, or target the many schools offering online nursing programs to individuals who want to continue working while in school.

There are also a range of degree program formats for nurses with varying levels of experience and education, such as bridge programs, which allow RNs with a lower level of education to complete a master’s degree without duplicating past coursework (e.g. RN to MSN).  

Graduate Degree Programs Options with an FNP focus

Nurse practitioners of all areas of specialty— including FNPs, women’s health nurse practitioners (WHNPs) and acute care nurse practitioners (ACNPs)—are required to earn at least a master’s in nursing degree. Just like there are graduate programs with an FNP focus, there are online programs for aspiring WHNPs and online acute care nurse practitioner programs. But because the needs of every aspiring nurse practitioner are different, there are a variety of methods for earning an FNP degree. 

  • Accelerated nursing programs with an FNP focus give students the opportunity to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) quicker than traditional college programs. These programs are typically designed for individuals who already have a BSN degree and may be delivered through online classes. 
  • RN to MSN degree programs with an FNP focus allow registered nurses (RNs) to build on their existing education and experience to earn an MSN. To qualify, students must have at least an associate’s degree and an RN license, however some programs will require students to have at least a BSN to enroll. Upon completing an RN to MSN degree program, RNs can choose to take on APRN roles, such as that of an FNP. 
  • Dual degree FNP programs allow individuals to earn their FNP and a second master’s degree concurrently, while pursuing certain specializations. For example, nurses who want to work with a specific population might consider earning dual degrees in FNP/Psychiatric-Mental Health or FNP/Adult-Gerontological Acute Care NP.
  • Online MSN programs with an FNP focus allow students who need flexibility. Reasons for enrolling in an online graduate nurse practitioner program may include the need to balance school with work and personal responsibilities, as well as having the opportunity to attend a preferred school without relocating. 
  • Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) FNP Programs are another way to become an FNP or advance the practice of a current FNP. A DNP is considered a terminal degree, meaning it is the highest level of education that can be obtained in the nursing profession. DNP programs typically take two years to complete.
  • Postgraduate MSN FNP certification programs are designed for nurses who have already earned their MSN but would like to shift their focus to become a family nurse practitioner. These certification programs provide additional training and education to prepare nurses for the specific duties of an FNP, such as caring for diverse populations and primary care health management.

Sponsored Online FNP Programs

Sponsored

Simmons’ Online MSN — FNP Program

Designed for currently licensed RNs, Nursing@Simmons enables aspiring Family Nurse Practitioners to earn an MSN online from Simmons University.


Prepare to Become an FNP With Georgetown University

Become a Family Nurse Practitioner in 27 months by earning your Master of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown University. RN and BSN required.


Earn an M.S. in Nursing online from the Wegmans School of Nursing

The Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner (PCFNP) program from the Wegmans School of Nursing at St. John Fisher College can be completed in as few as 24 months. Bachelor’s in nursing, RN license, and clinical experience required.


Nursing@USC prepares RNs to become FNPs

In as few as 21 months, you can earn your MSN online through Nursing@USC. This FNP program prepares you to deliver advanced care while addressing social and environmental factors. RN and BSN required.

Sponsored

Information on this page was last retrieved in August 2020.