Nurse practitioners are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing roles in nursing. A family nurse practitioner role offers nurses the chance to do more with their career, have their own patients, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe treatments.
Not only this, but family nurse practitioners are needed across every US state, meaning there are plenty of job options, as well as job security. If you are a registered nurse and you want to move ahead in your career, here is why you should consider studying to become a family nurse practitioner.
A Look into the Role
Family nurse practitioners fill a role that is needed within every community. These nurses bridge the gap between nurses and doctors and are primary healthcare providers for all patients, from children to the elderly. As family nurse practitioners usually work in clinics or private healthcare settings, they develop long lasting professional relationships with their patients and families.
As a family nurse practitioner, you will offer person-centered care. This role involves a lot of health promotion and disease prevention, meaning you will teach your patients the importance of taking care of their own health, to prevent health conditions rather than treat them.
If your patients do become ill, you can diagnose and treat these illnesses or injuries, and provide education to your patients. Many family nurse practitioners work on their own, or you may choose to work under another practitioner or physician, depending on which state you reside in. You can choose to work in many different healthcare settings, such as outpatient clinics, in a hospital, private healthcare facilities, retail health clinics, or even in patients’ homes.
Like many nursing roles, the job outlook for family nurse practitioners is high. Family nurse practitioners bridge an important gap and, as they can treat people of any age, they are sought after in every clinic, hospital, and state. In fact, this role is one of the most desirable careers. In 2020, the number of qualified nurse practitioners in the US hit a whopping 290,000, with that number expected to increase by over half in the next 10 years. When you compare this to the 7% increase in registered nurses over the next 10 years, you can see how great that job outlook is.
Along with the fact that family nurse practitioners are wanted and needed everywhere, the wage is a desirable factor to consider. In 2019, the average wage for a nurse practitioner was around $109,820, while for registered nurses this figure was $73,300. Looking at this alone, you can see how the costs of studying are worth every penny.
The Need for Family Nurse Practitioners
There are many reasons why family nurse practitioners are needed. One of these is the rising age of the population. With modern healthcare, people are living to an older age and remaining relatively healthy. We are also able to diagnose and treat illnesses that we couldn’t before. As a family nurse practitioner, you will be able to help this aging population to care for themselves and treat any long-term health conditions. The aging population needs a nurse who can help them to stay ashealthy as possible, so health promotion will be key in this age range.
Another reason for the need in family nurse practitioners is the drop in trained physicians. Family nurse practitioners can help to bridge that gap and serve the ever-growing population. Your role could also take you to underserved communities, where healthcare is not as easily accessible. Reaching these communities is essential, as those living in urban or rural areas may find it more difficult to get healthcare.
What a Family Nurse Practitioner Role Entails
If you are liking the sound of becoming a family nurse practitioner, understanding what the job entails can help you to make a decision. Family nurse practitioners are there to provide holistic, compassionate care to patients of all ages. You may care for your families for your whole career, watching them grow from children to adults. On a day-to-day basis, a family nurse practitioner will:
- Provide health education and a plan of action for their patient
- Go through a patient health assessment and a physical examination
- Diagnose a health condition or illness
- Order or carry out a diagnostic test, and be able to interpret the results
- Develop a treatment plan
- Prescribe medications
- Refer their patients to other healthcare settings or preventative health services, such as smoking cessation clinics
- Counsel patients
- Take care of minor injuries
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner
To become a family nurse practitioner, you must first have full-time nursing experience, for at least one year or longer. If you already hold a bachelors in nursing, you can go straight into a family nursing practitioner program. If you have completed a master’s degree, there is still the choice to do a doctor of nursing practice, which is the highest qualification that a registered nurse can currently hold. As family nurse practitioners work with people of all age ranges, you will have to complete clinical placements in a number of settings, such as:
- Women’s health
- Primary care settings
- Internal medicine
- Outpatient clinics
Family nurse practitioners can complete online degrees to qualify, if they cannot find a suitable university close-by and aren’t willing to relocate at present. Baylor University’s online BSN to DNP programs allows registered nurses to gain their qualification and become a family nurse practitioner. Studying online offers a lot more freedom in terms of what time you choose to study. If you have other work commitments or children yourself, studying online may be the best way for you to earn your degree. You will still need to complete placements when studying online, however.
Nurses looking to further advance their career and learn more about nursing should consider studying to become a family nurse practitioner to get more job prospects, a better wage, and to serve underserved communities and bridge the gap that is needed in all healthcare settings.