One of the great aspects of being a nurse is that you have so many options open to you when it comes to career progression. There is a multitude of different paths you can aim for depending on your skill set, personality, and passions, plus plenty of short courses and degree programs to help you achieve your goals. Whether you want to focus on a particular patient group, a specific healthcare condition, or even move into indirect patient care, the choice is yours.
If you’re still making up your mind about which direction you want to move into, one fantastic position to consider is that of a family nurse practitioner (FNP). Keep reading to learn more about the role and why it should be on your list.
What does an FNP do?
A family nurse practitioner is an advanced nursing role that involves working directly with patients throughout their lifespan. That means you’ll see people of all different ages, from all different backgrounds, and with all sorts of different medical conditions. An FNP forms a key part of a healthcare team and can work anywhere from hospitals and clinics to assisted living facilities, schools, community centers, and in patients’ own homes.
Your specific jobs and responsibilities as an FNP will vary depending on where you work. However, you can expect many of the following to be part of your daily tasks:
- Taking patients’ medical histories
- Conducting routine physical examinations
- Ordering and conducting diagnostic tests and screenings
- Diagnosing illnesses and diseases
- Updating patient records and other admin tasks
- Referring people to other specialists when required
- Administering medication (and potentially prescribing it)
- Monitoring chronic health conditions such as diabetes and advising patients on how to manage them
- Dressing wounds
- Taking blood
- Assisting with certain types of medical procedure
- Developing effective treatment plans for a broad range of acute and chronic health conditions
- Educating people on how to live a healthy lifestyle, for instance, through eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise
You will collaborate with other healthcare professionals in different roles and perhaps even supervise a team of your own.
I already have an MSN in another field. Is it too late for me to become an FNP?
Definitely not! As long as you are passionate about your work and willing to put in the effort to achieve your goals, it’s never too late to follow your dreams and become an FNP. In fact, there are specific online post masters FNP programs aimed at those who already have a Master’s of Science in Nursing qualification. By choosing one of these courses, you’ll be studying with others who are in the same situation as you and can enjoy a curriculum that’s tailored to your needs. You’ll be qualified in no time and able to start looking for your perfect job as an FNP!
If you already have a family and other obligations, that’s ok too. You can find distance learning courses that enable you to qualify even with kids to look after or relatives to care for. Plus, most colleges have support services available for mature students and students who are parents. Don’t be shy about asking for help – it’s what those services are there for.
What skills are required to be a good family nurse practitioner?
In addition to the knowledge and clinical skills that you’ll learn during your FNP degree, there are a number of personality traits and transferable skills that will be of great benefit to you in this role. Some of the most notable include:
- Interpersonal skills – as you’ll be working with a wide variety of patients and other healthcare professionals
- Communication skills – these will enable you to explain complex medical conditions and treatments to those with little background knowledge of the subject
- Active listening and observation skills – to help you get all the information you need when talking to patients, including what they don’t explicitly tell you
- Attention to detail – you’ll be working with precise dosages of medication and nuanced medical symptoms, where mistakes can have very serious consequences
- Organization and time management – to handle a high caseload and assist many patients a day
- Decision-making – you’ll have a high level of independence and responsibility as an FNP, so you must be able to solve problems yourself and make effective decisions regarding your patients
- Teamwork – an FNP is just one part of a wider healthcare team, and you will need to be able to work well with others
- Leadership – an FNP is a senior role, and you may have other nurses working under you who you need to inspire, develop and motivate
- Compassion and empathy – this goes without saying and is true for every single nursing role out there
- Positivity and patience – especially when dealing with patients who are very young, very old, or simply more challenging
- Emotional resilience – this will help to prevent you from being negatively affected by upsetting cases
- Flexibility and adaptability – you must be ready to handle emergency situations and unexpected issues at any time
- Honest and integrity – this will help patients to trust you and feel comfortable both talking to you and following your advice
- A willingness to continue learning – the nursing industry is always undergoing change as new techniques and technologies are developed, and it’s vital that you keep up with them all
Don’t worry if you’re not sure you’ve mastered all of these yet – your post-MSN FNP program will be an ideal time to work on them.
Seven reasons why you should become an FNP
So, now that you know what a family nurse practitioner is and what skills you’ll need in order to become one, let’s move on to why it’s a role worth considering.
Here are seven reasons why an FNP might be the perfect job for you.
1. It’s a varied and fascinating role
As touched on above, the role of an FNP involves providing a broad array of healthcare services to a diverse body of patients. It means that every day will be different, keeping you on your toes and ensuring you have an interesting career. One minute you might be conducting a routine checkup on a young child, and the next, you’ll be helping an elderly patient to cope with their arthritis. You also have a wide range of potential workplaces to choose from, meaning you can truly carve out a career that suits your interests, aspirations, personality, and talents. There’s also some variety when it comes to the hours of the day and days of the week you work, adding even more flexibility.
2. It’s a rewarding career
Of course, being a nurse in any capacity is rewarding; however, most people find that making the step up to becoming an FNP offers even greater job satisfaction. This is because you take on higher levels of responsibility and autonomy, whether that’s prescribing medication, developing and implementing treatment plans, or supervising your own healthcare team. Such independence can give you a stronger sense of purpose in your work life, which can boost your mental health. At the same time, you’ll continue to work directly with your patients and build meaningful and long-lasting relationships with them – all of which lead to a genuinely enriching career.
3. You’ll develop advanced knowledge and clinical skills
Studying for a higher level degree program of any sort is a fantastic way to give your specialist nursing knowledge and clinical skills a significant boost. In turn, this enables you to provide the very best care to your patients. It’s also beneficial to you on a personal level because you get the opportunity to dedicate time and energy to learning more about a topic that you’re passionate about. Regardless of the career you go on to have afterwards, this is advantageous to your development.
In addition to studying modules such as advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology and disease states, mental health for family nurse practitioners, and informatics for advanced nursing practice, you’ll also undergo a clinical placement. This is an invaluable way to learn under close supervision of your preceptor and receive feedback from experts in their field – helping you to level up your abilities enormously.
4. You’ll boost your transferable skills
It’s not only your clinical skills that will see an improvement – by becoming an FNP, you’ll also have the chance to work on your soft skills. These are helpful both in a work context and in your personal life. For instance, studying for a second MSN will help you to gain confidence, work on your written communication skills, and learn how to manage your time more effectively. It can additionally be a wonderful opportunity to work on your ability to network, as you’ll be meeting and collaborating with other students, academic staff, and nursing professionals. This, in turn, enables you to build up your contacts in the industry while hopefully also making lifelong friends.
5. You will be able to help your local community every day
A sense of altruism and a desire to help others is what drives most nurses, and becoming a family nurse practitioner allows you to dedicate yourself to helping others. You’ll be working directly with your patients every single day, providing them with not only crucial medical care but also vital emotional support. The importance of this cannot be underestimated.
Due to the fact that FNPs work with patients across the whole lifespan, you’ll probably find yourself working with the same people for many years and also seeing all the members of a family. This gives you a rare chance to develop long term and meaningful connections with those in your care and tailor your treatment accordingly. Furthermore, many FNPs specifically choose to work in underserved communities, where their help is even more critical. By working in this role, you’ll be able to develop strong ties with the community that you serve and have a genuinely positive impact on people’s lives.
6. The world needs more nurses
As we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing is one of the most important jobs in the world. In this field, there will always be a need for dedicated, talented, and compassionate people. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for advanced nursing roles is set to grow by an amazing 45% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average. This indicates just how great the need for nurses is and the sort of employability and job security you can anticipate having by becoming an FNP.
This is partly because the US population is aging, and the demand on many different types of healthcare services across the country is increasing. In addition, medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are on the rise. Although no qualification can guarantee you a job, nursing as a whole can be seen as a stable industry, and having a second MSN certainly won’t put you at a disadvantage in any way.
7. You’ll become a better person
This last point might sound strange, but it’s the truth! By working as a family nurse practitioner, you will undoubtedly have the opportunity to develop positive personality traits that come with the job. As mentioned above, these include characteristics such as compassion, empathy, altruism, patience, optimism, and understanding. They come from striving to give your patients the highest level of care that you can and providing them with the necessary emotional support to deal with difficult and stressful times. You’ll help people to open up about sensitive health conditions and reassure them when it comes to intimidating medical procedures. All with a smile on your face!
Just remember to also focus on setting clear boundaries between your work life and your home life to protect your own wellbeing and prevent upsetting cases from impacting your relationships or mental health. It’s perfectly ok for FNPs to ask for help too!
If this article has convinced you that you want to become a family nurse practitioner, that’s fantastic! Your next step is to start researching degree programs and preparing to go back to college. When choosing your course, be sure to look at the specific curriculum to make sure it covers the topics that interest you the most. You may also want to think about whether you would prefer to study on campus or online as a way to narrow down the possibilities. Just remember, you’re never too old to achieve your dreams – so get out there and reach for the stars!