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Arkansas State University

What Are the Responsibilities of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?

Historically, healthcare structured care positions are in very distinct categories. There were doctors, nurses and hospital or clinic staff. Today, those categories aren’t so cut and dry. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) exist between the registered nurse and physician positions. They have become essential healthcare providers who cater to the medical needs of patients across all age groups.

FNPs are considered “advanced practice registered nurses” (APRNs). These nurses earn specialized education and clinical training in family practice in programs like the Arkansas State University (A-State) online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – FNP program.

FNPs are critical within the healthcare system, offering comprehensive, equitable, patient-centered care to individuals and families. Their wide range of responsibilities and the demand for their services make the FNP profession a promising career choice.

Day in the Life of a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners perform various duties throughout a typical day. Much like other primary care providers, they play a key role in patient relations. According to Indeed, the following are just some of an FNP’s responsibilities:

  • Maintaining patient records. FNPs are responsible for maintaining accurate and up-to-date patient records. They document medical history, symptoms, examination findings, test results, diagnoses and treatment plans for each patient under their care.
  • Performing physical exams. FNPs conduct thorough physical examinations to assess patients’ overall health and identify potential health issues. These examinations include performing comprehensive health assessments and evaluating organ systems. For example, they may take a patient’s blood pressure and pulse, listen to their heart and lungs and document height and weight.
  • Performing tests. As part of the health assessment process, FNPs may prescribe diagnostic tests — such as laboratory tests (blood, urine), imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs or other procedures like mammograms and colonoscopies — to identify underlying health conditions and inform treatment plans.
  • Prescribing medications. FNPs have the authority to prescribe medications to patients, something a registered nurse (RN) cannot do. To do this safely, they must consider the patient’s medical history, potential drug interactions and possible side effects when determining the appropriate medication and dosage.
  • Developing treatment plans. Based on their assessment and diagnostic findings, FNPs create individualized treatment plans for patients. These may involve plans for medication, lifestyle modifications or referrals to other healthcare providers for further evaluation and treatment.
  • Treating acute and chronic illnesses. FNPs provide care for both acute and chronic illnesses, addressing a wide range of health issues. From common colds to more complex conditions like diabetes or hypertension, FNPs play an essential role among the patients they serve.

Why Are Family Nurse Practitioners Vital to the Healthcare Industry?

FNPs are important to the healthcare landscape for several reasons. First, they help bridge the gap in primary care — particularly in underserved areas with limited access to medical services. Second, FNPs deliver patient-centered care, emphasizing prevention, wellness and health education. This holistic approach empowers patients to take charge of their health and make informed decisions.

Finally, FNPs often spend more time per visit with their patients than overbooked physicians. This focus facilitates long-term relationships with their patients, fostering trust and continuity of care.

Job Outlook and Benefits

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for nurse practitioners is projected to grow at a staggering 40% rate until 2031, indicating strong demand for their services in the coming years. Indeed reports that the average salary for an FNP is approximately $107,714 per year.

There are several benefits to pursuing a career as an FNP, as highlighted by Johnson & Johnson:

  • Desirable compensation. FNPs typically earn competitive salaries and may also receive additional benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plans and paid time off (PTO).
  • Structured work environment. FNPs often work in structured settings, such as hospitals, clinics and private practices, which allows them to maintain a consistent work schedule.
  • Independent but varied responsibilities. While FNPs work independently, they collaborate with other healthcare professionals, providing assorted experiences and opportunities for professional growth.
  • Patient-facing care. FNPs have the unique opportunity to build long-term relationships with patients, allowing for personalized care and thus significantly impacting their lives.

Ready to Get on the Path to an FNP Career?

If you’re considering a career in the FNP field, there’s no better time. Given this position’s immense growth in the U.S., it makes sense to progress your nursing career in this direction.

Fortunately, there are convenient and affordable ways to move forward. The online MSN – FNP program at A-State is a great opportunity for BSN-prepared nurses to uplevel their knowledge and skills and secure a career as an FNP. In as few as 24 months, students establish a solid foundation and can thrive in their new roles. The program’s coursework provides a comprehensive understanding of the FNP role.

Plus, graduates are eligible to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners national certification exam. They will be prepared to fill the widespread need for nurses with specialized skills.

Learn more about A-State’s online MSN – FNP program.

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