Nursing is one of the fastest-growing careers. Not only is there a growing population that will need greater access to healthcare, there is also a shortage of nurses and physicians. Combined, it means that there has never been a better time to become a family nurse practitioner. If this is a job role that you have been thinking of entering, read on to find out how you can do this.
Table of Contents
What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse that provides comprehensive healthcare services to patients of all ages and genders. You will specialize in the primary care of your patients, with a huge portion of your focus going into preventative care. Your goal is to help those with their everyday health concerns and also their long-term health.
Why Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
There are so many reasons why you may personally want to become a family nurse practitioner. It is an exceptionally rewarding job personally, as you get to develop lasting relationships with your patients and help them with their long-term health goals; and as you are in a primary and preventative care role there is less chance of high-stakes, high-stress situations.
Aside from personal reasons such as the above, becoming a family nurse practitioner simply makes practical sense. It is a great career move for these top reasons:
1. Enjoy Greater Autonomy
One of the biggest benefits of being a nurse practitioner is the higher level of autonomy. Though this autonomy isn’t granted to nurse practitioners in all states, an increasing number are changing legislation to enable more nurse practitioners to practice independently. Even states that currently don’t offer full practice authority for their nurse practitioners may change in the future. Organizations such as the Texas Nurse Practitioners continue to advocate for full practice authority, a move which will likely gain traction as physician shortages and growing populations increase the demand.
In some cases you will even have the ability to relocate. If your state does not offer FNPs full practice authority but it is within the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC—which most states are) then you can move and get started with the next stage of your career that way. With almost all states now part of the eNLC (or about to be part of the eNLC), this means there is more opportunity than ever before to take your career in the direction you want.
2. Have a Greater Impact in Your Community
Nurse practitioners work directly with their patients. While all nurse practitioners provide a hands-on approach to care, the family nurse practitioner is there for the widest range of patients. Working in or even opening a clinic in your area could have drastic implications for the community you operate in, as they now have a qualified and talented healthcare professional available for check-ups and everyday healthcare.
3. Earn an Excellent Salary
All APRNs have excellent salaries. Family nurse practitioners typically earn between $107,265 to $125,578, depending on their years of experience, where they work, and which state they operate within. States such as Texas have one the highest employment rates of nurse practitioners, with a mean wage of $117,890.
4. Enjoy Great Career Prospects
Nurse practitioners have excellent career prospects and can work in a variety of settings, even without full practice authority. Of course, if you operate in a state that has restricted practice authority and you don’t want to wait for legislation to change then there are opportunities to move. If you have a license within the eNLC, for example, you could relocate to a state that does offer full practice authority with minimal complications.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner in 2022
Becoming a family nurse practitioner may take a few years, but it is very straightforward. You will need to be a registered nurse with a BSN-level degree before you can get started with the next step, however. You can earn this BSN directly, or you can fast-track through it if you already have the Associate’s Degree in Nursing or another bachelor’s degree (particularly if it was in a STEM field).
Regardless of the route that you took to earn that BSN, your next steps will be the following:
1. Enroll in a Master of Science in Nursing —Family Nurse Practitioner Program
You will need to find a family nurse practitioner MSN. These specialty programs are often state-specific due to the various rules, regulations, and practice authority differences. That being said, thanks to the eNLC you do have some flexibility. If you are located in Texas, for example, you can often take a program from any of the other states within the eNLC, and vice versa. That is why Texas MSN-FNP programs can accept students from 29 different states.
While you can find a full-time, on-campus option, you are almost always better off earning an online FNP program in Texas, as you can avoid relocating and in many cases can continue to work or otherwise support yourself or your family. You will finish in just under 3 years and you’ll be able to benefit from clinical placement services.
The program you enroll in should be CCNE accredited, should offer clinical placement services, and (most of all) should offer multiple services to help their students succeed with their education.
2. Graduate and Earn Your License
Upon graduation you will then need to take and pass the NCLEX exam. This is critical, as it is the legal requirement before you can start working as an FNP. Don’t wait too long, and use all the available resources to help prepare you for your exam.
3. Job Hunt and Network
Just because there is a shortage of nurses in the United States does not mean that networking or building up your résumé is not important. If you want to apply and be considered for the most in-demand positions, or if you want to work in a popular area, then you will want to go above and beyond—and, of course, be patient.
The good news is that the job market is hot and nurse practitioners are in big demand. Take the time to network as a nurse, work with your university’s career center, and stay positive.