Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are registered nurses (RNs) who have completed a graduate degree, enabling them to provide many of the same services and responsibilities as family physicians. The additional education that the role necessitates includes studying for a master’s or doctoral degree, as well as logging a prescribed number of supervised clinical hours. Higher degrees for individuals looking to transition to a career as an FNP can be completed on a university campus, online or through a combination of the two. Online programs are designed to enable nurses to continue working while completing their studies.
Read on to learn more about the FNP’s role and strategies for professionals working in the field to best manage and organize their busy schedules.
A closer look at working as an FNP
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) noted that a license to practice as an FNP is mandated for qualified professionals nationwide, although the scope of an FNP’s professional responsibilities can vary between states. For example, as detailed by an AANP fact sheet, in over 20 states — including Maine, Oregon, Iowa and Connecticut — FNPs are able to practice independently without direct supervision from a physician. However, in other states — such as Massachusetts and California — supervision is mandated at all times. States such as Illinois and Ohio offer restrictions that fall in the middle: FNPs are allowed to work relatively autonomously, but they are required to have a collaborative agreement with a physician.
For example, Rachel Borton, director of Bradley University’s online FNP program, works autonomously at a local urgent care, seeing patients in person and also through telehealth. If needed, a collaborating physician is available for consultation on challenging cases. Otherwise, patients are seen and treated with medication prescriptions and other treatments directly determined and prescribed by Borton.
Whether under supervision or not, once qualified, FNPs are able to provide services such as diagnosing and treating illnesses, prescribing medications, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, and providing comprehensive health education to patients. Given the myriad tasks associated with the role, working as an FNP can be a challenge in terms of organization and time management.
The following tips are not exclusively applicable to FNPs — they also can apply to family physicians.
- Delegation of tasks
According to Drs. Christine A. Sinsky and Kevin D. Hopkins, writing in Family Practice Management, a publication of the American Academy of Family Physicians, medical professionals should embrace delegating time-consuming tasks to other team members. This paradigm emphasizes teamwork, whereby all staff members at a medical practice assume roles that they are qualified to execute. For example, RNs or medical assistants can be enlisted to help with time-consuming chores, such as completing paperwork, for which a physician’s or FNP’s specialized knowledge is not needed. RNs and medical assistants also can insert updates to patient electronic health records and meet with patients prior to an appointment to complete an initial assessment in which necessary questions are asked and vital signs taken. Once this information has been gathered, it can be passed on to the FNP or family physician, who will meet with the patients. The objective of this collaborative approach, Hopkins observed, is to help a practice’s schedule run more smoothly and efficiently, improving patient satisfaction levels in the process.
- Communicating delays
Delays in a FNP’s schedule likely will arise on a fairly routine basis — it is arguably an unavoidable component of the job, journalist SueJacques asserted, writing for Physicians Practice. However, it is important for medical professionals not to become accustomed to or accept delays or lateness. Any anticipated delay or tardiness should be communicated clearly with practice staff and patients. Extending this common courtesy is not only the polite thing to do, it also means that those individuals inconvenienced by the delay can adjust their own schedules accordingly.
Consider Bradley University
A career as an FNP begins with the attainment of an advanced degree. Bradley University’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) FNP programs provide nursing professionals the opportunity to grow their career by balancing work with study online. The flexibility of this option allows for RNs to study with greater ease when compared with on-campus study. If you are interested in this program from Bradley University and wish to learn more, review the information here.