The role of Family Nurse Practitioner is possibly one of the most varied within the nursing field, it’s also one of the most rewarding. The position of a family nurse practitioner was ranked number 7 on a list of the top 100 best jobs in the USA News & World Report!
This incredible job satisfaction can be boiled down to two distinct things: a family nurse practitioner has a varied work schedule, they can work with people of all ages in many different settings, and the role lends itself well to specialization later down the line.
It is due to this varied workload that answering the question: what does a family nurse practitioner do? Is sometimes hard. Still, we’ll try to dissect the role ins this article and leave you with some further reading resources to delve deeper into.
Family Nurse Practitioners – A Quick Overview
The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), their main focus is in family medicine, and they work with patients of all ages, from birth to adolescent, adulthood, senior and end of life care. Due to the broad scope of work, it is quite common for family nurse practitioners to specialize in one area, perhaps working with adolescents or seniors, for example. Still, their main focus will always be on the broader family medicine field.
An FNP’s job is to work with people of all ages, and they may be seen on any given day doing such duties as:
Developing treatment plans for patients
Prescribing medicines (some states allow fully qualified FNPs to prescribe without the need for a physician, other states require a physician’s signature)
Managing primary care conditions (such as chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, etc.
Maintaining patient records
Treating and managing acute and chronic illnesses
Working in the broader community on outreach and education programs
FNPs can work in all sorts of different settings within the health care sector, including but not limited to private practice, community health centers, universities, and even ER departments.
What Are the Duties of a Family Nurse Practitioner?
While the role of a family nurse practitioner is a generic one, the duties and level of care and seniority expected will vary from state to state. Many states will provide a list of responsibilities that the FNP is allowed to perform (and those which they are allowed to perform under certain restrictions). Still, some states will leave the interpretation of these guidelines reasonably loose.
Some states, like Washington, allow Nurse Practitioners of all disciplines to have almost the same level of autonomy as physicians. They may be able to admit patients, discharge patients, and even write prescriptions. There are other states, however, such as California, where the NP will be able to write prescriptions for medicines, but a physician must sign it off before it is eligible for fulfillment.
In Alabama, Nurse Practitioners must spend at minimum 10 percent of their time collaborating with a fully qualified physician throughout their career, the most restrictive of all the states’ laws.
In general, though, the duties of a Family Nurse Practitioner will usually include:
Admitting and discharging patients in some capacity
Order and perform lab work, radiography, diagnostics, and other tests
Interpreting the above tests and work
Prescribing treatments and medications
Giving physical examinations
Performing therapeutic procedures
Taking and maintaining a patient history and updating medical records
Work on care plans, from development to management
Perform diagnostics to establish a diagnosis
How long does it take to become a family nurse practitioner?
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner takes a lot of time and dedication. FNPs are highly skilled individuals with usually decades of experience behind them.
A Nurse Practitioner of any subset will need to have obtained a Doctor of Nursing Practice qualification, usually taking two years to complete. It has previously been accepted for NPs to have a Master of Nursing Studies. Still, more recently, while a master's degree nurse practitioner is the first step, the bar for entry requirements for an NP career has been set higher so that anyone wishing to become a Nursing Practitioner will have a doctorate level of qualification.
It’s worth noting here that both the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Ph.D. in Nursing are generally considered to be equal in qualification level. Still, the Ph.D. in Nursing is usually much more research-focused and less clinical, whereas the Doctor of Nursing Practice qualification is heavily focused on the clinical side of the practice. For this reason, it’s safe to assume that, for the most part, Family Nurse Practitioners usually have a Doctor of Nursing Practice qualification behind them.
During the further degree qualification course that NPs take, they will be expected to complete a variety of courses, usually in such areas as Pharmacology, Epidemiology, Health Policy, and many more, to gain a wider understanding of their role within the healthcare sector.
How Much Money Can A Family Nurse Practitioner Make?
While it’s impossible to say precisely how much a family nurse practitioner can and will make salary-wise, it is safe to assume that a higher-level role requiring more skills such as this will definitely command a higher salary.
Where a standard Registered nurse may make an average of $70,000 at the mid-point of their careers, a Nursing Practitioner should be making an average of $113,930 annually.
The salary an FNP can command will, of course, be dependent on the type of employment they take, the location, and the level of autonomy required for the role. Many places require NPs of all disciplines, including the private sector and government agencies, who may pay higher than the average salary to ensure that they have the best person for the role.
How Many Hours A Day Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?
As with most things in an NP’s job, hours may vary. Due to the seniority of the role, it’s not uncommon for Family Nurse Practitioners to work part-time, or at least condense their hours into fewer days per week
On average, a Family Nurse Practitioner can expect to see around 18 patients per day and should expect to be working shift patterns of 8-12 hours at a time.