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Arkansas State University

What It Takes to Be a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Preparation is critical if you’re considering a family nurse practitioner (FNP) career. While the demand for competent professionals will likely grow 45% from 2020 to 2030 (much faster than the average for all occupation) according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurses pursuing advanced practice must have a unique and extensive skill set. Here’s what it takes to become an FNP.

What Are the Job Duties of an FNP?

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), an FNP is “an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who provides a wide range of family-focused health care services to patients of all ages, including infants, adolescents, adults and seniors.” FNPs work in various healthcare settings, such as private practice, community health centers, long-term care facilities, home healthcare, rehab centers, ambulatory care centers, internal medicine and specialty clinics.

FNP job duties and responsibilities typically include:

  • Performing health assessments and physical exams
  • Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, conditions and injuries
  • Ordering and interpreting diagnostic testing, like laboratory tests and EKGs
  • Providing preventive care, patient education and counseling
  • Administering immunizations
  • Prescribing medications
  • Developing treatment plans
  • Referring patients to other healthcare providers and services
  • Maintaining detailed patient records

What Are the Educational Requirements to Become an FNP?

Given these significant responsibilities and the likelihood of independent clinical practice in many states, FNPs require graduate-level education. Therefore, they must first earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited university program. Then, after accumulating 1,500 practice hours and maintaining an active nursing license, they can apply to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Family Nurse Practitioner program.

Arkansas State University’s online MSN – FNP program is ideal for nurses interested in this career path. The flexible format allows students to continue working while completing an advanced degree. Graduate coursework focuses on the in-depth theoretical and evidence-based practice skills to succeed as an FNP in today’s complex healthcare environment.

After completing the MSN – FNP program, A-State graduates are eligible to sit for a national certification exam administered by AANP or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). National board certification is usually a prerequisite for licensure with state boards of nursing.

Plus, since FNPs have a broad scope of practice, those “seeking to meet the needs of their patients and enhance their careers” may wish to obtain additional certifications such as those specific to diabetes, pain and obesity management, notes AANP.  

What Personality Traits Do Most FNPs Share?

The most successful FNPs generally share certain personality traits:    

Empathy. Individuals who choose a caring profession are often naturally empathetic. FNPs who try to understand their patients’ viewpoints, lifestyles and challenges can provide targeted patient-centered care.

Passion. FNPs must be passionate about their specialty and profession and find purpose in helping patients maximize their health. They are eager to learn new skills, maintain their existing ones and carve out teachable moments with patients and colleagues.     

Steadfastness. As an APRN, there will be challenging moments to overcome. However, FNPs must be steadfast in their commitment to patient well-being and the delivery of high-quality care.

Resourcefulness. The path forward isn’t always evident in healthcare, so the top FNPs must be flexible and imaginative when crafting practical solutions. Whether it is a technological workaround or identifying a more suitable prescription option, FNPs tap into available resources, conduct research and investigate all potential avenues.

Integrity. FNPs shoulder a lot of responsibility, and their actions have tangible and lasting impacts. They must act with integrity, be honest and adhere to strict ethical guidelines.

Overall, it takes an exceptional nurse to pursue an advanced practice role. As an FNP, unique traits and skills are instrumental in the success of the individual provider and the profession. An MSN degree equips graduates to enter this demanding yet rewarding career.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s online MSN – FNP program.

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