How to tell if the FNP path is right for you

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A female nurse practitioner giving a child an exam.

Family nurse practitioners specialize in the primary care of families throughout their lifespan. This means their patients span age groups, ethnicities, racial backgrounds, genders, and more.

FNPs take a holistic approach to health care education. While FNPs can prescribe treatments for acute and chronic illnesses, they may also focus on health education, preventive care and risk reduction.

7 signs you should become an FNP

1. You want more responsibility

FNPs go beyond the standard assessment and diagnostic practices of a typical RN. Their additional credentials give them the autonomy to conduct exams, diagnose illness and treat clients across the life span. Depending on the state in which they reside, FNPs can start their own practices or programs, prescribe medications, create treatment plans, order and interpret diagnostic tests and more.

2. You have an entrepreneurial spirit

Many states allow nurse practitioners to practice without the oversight of a physician. This means you can build and operate your own private practice. An entrepreneurial mindset gives you more control over your employment, meaning you can set your operational processes in the manner you think best.

3. You want greater working options

Given their wider possible scope of duties, FNPs tend to have their choice of employers. You can work in primary care hospitals, clinics, private practices, assisted living facilities, private homes, schools and more. You may also choose your geographic region. Whether you prefer cities, suburbs or rural communities, you should have little trouble finding a job.

4. You want to broaden your expertise

FNPs require training beyond that of a specialized nurse practitioner. If you currently specialize in a specific area, this additional education will add more knowledge to your repertoire. Therefore, you’ll become able to treat patients of any age and gender across the lifespan.

An FNP degree can help you expand your expertise in advanced nursing theory, patient-centered care and research practice. You can acquire high-level leadership skills, gain the autonomy to conduct exams, diagnose illness and treat clients throughout their lives. You may also gain a big-picture, interprofessional view of the modern health care marketplace.

5. You want to increase your salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average RN earns approximately $70,000 per year. As an FNP, your salary may increase to $107,480.

6. You want a fantastic health care job

U.S. News & World Report ranked nurse practitioner No. 3 among the best health care jobs and No. 4 overall, scoring the profession an 8.2 out of 10. Salary and future growth were the primary positive factors.

In fact, job security as an FNP should be high over the coming years. The public is demanding more comprehensive health care, but the population is both aging and growing in number, and an increasing percentage of doctors are retiring without enough replacements. Numerous studies, such as one released by the Association of American Medical Colleges, indicate these factors will lead to a significant shortage of physicians over the next few decades. The AAMC, in particular, predicts a dearth of between 40,800 and 104,900 doctors by 2030.

Given the enhanced responsibilities of an FNP, (including lab and diagnostic workup and prescribing medications), there should be plenty of demand for your skill sets should you choose this career path.

7. You want an advantage in your career

The knowledge you obtain with your degree can set you apart from the competition. You may learn leadership and management skills within the program, which can lead to a more fulfilling role with a higher salary.

What can an FNP degree do for me?

An FNP degree can help you build on your career as an RN and pursue greater autonomy. You may expand your knowledge of advanced nursing theory and learn more about the latest patient-centered care best practices. You’ll also have greater opportunity to integrate research in your career, either by conducting studies or interpreting results to better provide for your patients.

Two female nurses having a discussion.In addition, you may study under professors with a wide range of nursing experience. Their time in both academic and clinical settings can allow them to impart wisdom that would be difficult to obtain on your own. Look for a program certified by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education to ensure your education aligns with industry standards.

Finally, this degree is also a crucial step in the process of becoming a family nurse practitioner. Certification exams, which are required by the state, cover most if not all of the material you’ll learn in an FNP program.

For that matter, your coursework will also include classes on evidence-based practice, leadership, legal and ethical issues, health care policy, pharmacology, health informatics and more. You’ll likely be able to use these lessons in numerous areas throughout your career, regardless of where and how you work.

How to become an FNP

After getting your RN certification and an ADN, diploma or BSN degree, the next step is to apply for a master’s degree program. Here, you can earn the additional knowledge, skills and theories that can take you beyond the role of a registered nurse. Once that is complete, graduates will need to take a family nurse practitioner board certification exam to become an FNP.

Master’s programs are demanding, and you may not have time to enroll as an on-campus student while working full time. If you want a flexible educational setting, consider getting an online Master of Science in Nursing concentrating in Family Nurse Practitioner from Bradley University. The program is completely internet-based, meaning you can attend classes and complete assignments in a manner that works with your schedule. In addition, you can complete your clinical hours locally while still attending a renowned nursing program.

For more information, check out the Bradley University online Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner program page.

Recommended Readings:

What are the benefits of an online FNP program?

Faculty Feature: Rachel Borton


Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Association of American Medical Colleges