Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice registered nurses who work with other medical professionals to deliver care at a family-based level. They work in various settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, schools and even private homes, diagnosing and treating health conditions much like a general physician. Some of the common responsibilities of a nurse practitioner include:
- Developing treatment plans for diseases and chronic conditions
- Teaching patients the importance of disease prevention
- Performing diagnostic tests
- Managing patient wellness
- Prescribing medications
Because nurse practitioners take on such an important role in helping patients get back to good health, understanding pharmacology is essential. For those interested in earning an online Master of Science in Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University, let’s take a closer look at what defines pharmacology, how it relates to the role of an FNP and how Bradley can teach you about this critical subject.
According to the British Pharmacological Society, pharmacology is a health science that studies how drugs react in biological systems and how the body is affected by such medications (2018). Pharmacology links chemistry, physiology and pathology to better understand how drugs affect humans through prescribed medications, poisons and environmental pollutant exposure, and drug abuse and addiction. Studying pharmacology gives medical professionals a broader sense of what kind of medications are most beneficial to the human body, giving them a platform to help design and create new, useful medicines that can help fight a multitude of chronic conditions and diseases.
How does pharmacology relate to the role of an FNP?
Family nurse practitioners play an important role in diagnosing and treating patients on a daily basis. Consequently, it is critical for them to understand how to administer medication, which makes studying the art of pharmacology and potentially fatal drug interactions critical. Because nurses play a crucial role in medication administration, understanding pharmacology is an essential stepping stone to becoming an eligible FNP. According to the AANP, it is important to note that Nurse practice laws and regulations are specific to each state (2018).
Nurses are expected to refer to the six rights of medication administration before providing patients with drugs, according to Health Times. Those include:
- Right medication: Double-checking the prescription, medication dosage and expiration date.
- Right client: Confirming the patients by identifying their name and date of birth, then asking if they have any questions or concerns about the medication.
- Right dose: Ensuring the dosage is correct based on the patient and drug reference.
- Right time: Confirming how often the medication is to be administered.
- Right route: Ensuring the appropriate route for administering the medication.
- Right documentation: Documenting the administration of the medication using clinical software to ensure consistency throughout the patient’s’ medical journey.
FNPs have a lot of responsibilities, but the most important is to ensure the well-being of their patients making by making the best decisions about their health. To keep nurses up to date with best medication practices, it’s important to consider the following:
- Continue education beyond earning a master’s degree
- Attend pharmacology seminars regularly
- Use online resources to learn about new medications and get an understanding of the side effects, interactions, dosage instructions and more
Nursing practice laws and regulations vary state to state, but generally, FNPs must regularly prescribe, transcribe, dispense, administer and monitor medications for patients, making the study of pharmacology a critical point in their graduate studies.
How Bradley’s FNP program can teach you about pharmacology
When you enroll in the Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University, you’ll learn about pharmacology throughout your studies. Near the end of your time in the program, however, you’ll focus more closely on the subject, taking two classes that specifically target pharmacology:
Advanced Pharmacology I gives prospective FNPs a chance to gain advanced foundational knowledge of pharmokynitecis and pharmodynamics-assisting students with understanding basic pharmacology drug classes and pathological reactions to that class use. This course will give students the expertise and tools needed to offer the highest quality care in the safest, most cost-effective manner. This course is worth 3 credits.
Advanced Pharmacology II goes beyond teaching students the basics of pharmacology. You’ll learn about the general principles of medication pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and pharmacotherapeutics that are used specifically by FNPs. By the end of the course, you’ll complete an in-depth study to discover some of the functional changes that accompany a particular syndrome or disease and use pharmacologic techniques to solve problems and offer solutions. Practical pharmacology application during this course is paired with simultaneous practicum courses, which assist students with real-life experiences. This course is worth 3 credits.
The curriculum of the online program at Bradley is designed to prepare you to hone your skills as an FNP and practice with families in various settings. You’ll complete 65-74* credit hours of coursework, including the pharmacology courses, as well as a capstone course and five supervised clinical practicums. Not only can you attain critical pharmacology knowledge during the 100 percent online CCNE-accredited program, but you can also gain an interprofessional view of the health care industry, expand your expertise in patient-centered care and graduate with the tools needed to diagnose illness, conduct exams and treat patients successfully.
To learn more, check out the Bradley University online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program page.
*Years, semesters, clinical and credit hours will vary based on entry-level education (ADN/Diploma or BSN)