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Family Practice Nurse Practitioner: Career Education Overview

Oct 20, 2021

Family practice nurse practitioners provide primary care to patients. They are RNs who complete additional training and certification for these positions. Nurse practitioners are in great demand - the number of available jobs in the field is growing much faster than the national average.

Essential Information

Healthcare students who want to provide primary care to patients of various ages may opt to become family nurse practitioners (FNPs). Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses and have completed a graduate-level education. Nurse practitioners must obtain a registered nurse license. Certification as a family nurse practitioner is required in most states as well.

Required Education At least a master's degree
Other Requirements Registered nurse license; most states required advanced practice nursing certification
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)* 52% for all nurse practitioners
Median Annual Salary (2020)* $111,680 for all nurse practitioners

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Family Practice Nurse Practitioner: Education Information

As advanced practice nurses, FNPs need more education than do standard registered nurses (RNs). Still, they must first complete the essential education and licensure requirements of RNs. Although diploma and associate's degree programs allow graduates to take the required licensing examination for registered nurses, bachelor's degrees are required to gain admission into graduate programs. As a result, many FNPs have completed bachelor's degree programs in nursing prior to pursuing the additional education needed for career entry. Although most nurse practitioner programs are master's degree programs, post-master's certificate and doctoral degree programs are also available. Regardless of the educational path a student chooses, he or she will encounter similar educational content.

Master of Science in Nursing for Family Nurse Practitioners

Master of Science in Nursing programs typically take 1-3 years to complete depending on a student's previous level of nursing education. These programs combine field practice in live health settings, such as health clinics or hospitals, with classroom coursework. Common courses in family nurse practitioner programs include:

  • Nursing informatics
  • Foundations for advanced nursing
  • Health care delivery systems
  • Health care management
  • Methods of nursing research
  • Advanced human pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology for nurse practitioners
  • Health assessment/Promotion/Disease Prevention
  • Family health management
  • Family nurse practitioner practicum

Licensing Requirements

Nurse practitioners, regardless of specialty, must complete their RN licensing requirements by passing the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Graduating from an approved nursing program is a prerequisite to sit for this computer-based examination. Individual states may have additional eligibility requirements.

Additionally, most states request that FNPs be actively certified. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) offers a credential for family nurse practitioners known as the FNP-BC that may satisfy state certification requirements. This credential requires successfully passing an exam and paying applicable fees. Nurses must fulfill education and experience requirements to be eligible for this certifying exam. Even if it is not required by their employers, FNPs may consider earning the FNP-BC credential since it validates their knowledge, skills and abilities within the area of family practice nursing. Renewal of this certification is necessary every five years.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated 52% job growth in nurse practitioner positions from 2019-2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS stated that nurse practitioners earned $111,680 as a median annual wage in May 2020.

Family practice nurse practitioners must first complete a bachelor's program and earn registered nursing licensure. They then pursue a graduate degree or graduate certificate to qualify for certification as nurse practitioners. Certification is typically required by the state.

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