Nurse practitioners are one of the best jobs in the country. They offer so much and are a great choice no matter whether you are already in nursing or you are looking for a new, fulfilling path to take your second career. Nursing today has become highly advanced, and you have the opportunity to care for patients autonomously and without supervision from a doctor or physician. With this level of expertise and certification, more people are looking to become a nurse than ever before.
Becoming a doctor requires a long period of education where you need to dedicate yourself full time. If you aren’t sure about what you want to do within healthcare, however, it can be altogether too easy to feel like you have backed yourself into a corner.
Nursing is far more direct. There is education, yes, but you can work between your bachelor’s, master’s, and even doctorate degrees so that you can get the experience needed.
How to Choose the Right Nursing Career Route
Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a very popular career choice for nurses, but like with all jobs that you need to train and certify for, knowing it is absolutely the best option for you is essential.
Explore your interests. Learn more about what the family nurse practitioner does, as well as other similar roles, and even shadow existing FNPs or other APRNs to help you understand first-hand what type of work and what type of medicine they do. Having a dream is great, but having a dream isn’t enough to guarantee that it is the right path for you.
Putting that extra work in to help explore your options as well as get a real taste for the work that you would be doing is your key to success. Not only will it help you be more certain of your choice to become an FNP if that route is the right way for you, but it can also actually make it easier to secure your first job once you have graduated and earned your certification.
Why Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
Family Nurse Practitioners were initially created to offset the shortage of physicians, and since then, have been instrumental in providing essential primary care for patients around the country. This shift from only physicians providing that primary care to also including advanced practice registered nurses started in 1965, though, the first master’s program wouldn’t exist until 1970.
In just three years, that first master’s program grew, with over 65 programs offered around the country, and by 1980, there were over 200. Today nurse practitioners are one of the most popular APRN roles available, with over 290,000 nurse practitioners currently working in the United States today.
Family Nurse Practitioners, in particular, offer a very unique, very essential level of care. They don’t provide care for a specific demographic. They don’t specialize in a specific area of medicine. Instead, they care for patients of all genders and all ages and work to provide that ongoing care from childhood and for the rest of their patient’s life.
They perform exams, monitor health, order tests, diagnose, and can even prescribe medication. Their work is at the front line, and what they do helps reduce health risks by providing excellent information, education, and monitoring so that patients can live better, more fulfilling lives.
The responsibilities of a family nurse practitioner will differ depending on where you are located. In states, without full practice authority, you may find a lot of irritating red tape in terms of what you can do, and cannot do, though the importance of FNPs and also the enhanced nurse licensure compact are both expanding, and the responsibilities and privileges allotted to FNPs are always in flux.
States You Can Practice Autonomously as an FNP
One of the things that makes the FNP role so unique is that you can actually practice autonomously and even open up your own practice – that is, if you are operating in the right state. Not every state allows for this level of power of your career, so if you haven’t yet started with your nursing career path and one daydream of opening up your own clinic, then check from this list if you can practice autonomously.
The full-practice authority states include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. 16 other states offer reduced authority privileges, and 11 states have restricted authority for FNPs.
States that offer full practice authority allow their FNPs to diagnose and treat patients – including writing prescriptions – without a physician overseeing them. States that have reduced authority can diagnose and treat patients but will need a physician to sign off on prescriptions, and those that are restricted require physician oversight for all tasks.
This can be very irritating for those in restricted privilege states, and if it is your dream to operate your own practice, or at least to have full practice privileges where you work, then relocating to one of the aforementioned states is a great strategy to do before you get started with your nursing education.
The Nursing Career Path
The nursing career route is rather unique. While you can technically work your way up the ladder, you will always need to train and earn a certification before you can move up. Furthermore, you can skip the lower rungs of nursing entirely and work to earn a BSN right out of the gate. If you currently have a bachelor’s degree, you can even fast-track your BSN by skipping the credits you have already completed.
Certified Nursing Assistant
One of the lower tiers of nursing that you can get started in is the certified nursing assistant role. This role will certify you so that you can provide holistic care in hospitals, but more often care homes. You do not need to be a CNA in advance to become an RN.
Licensed Nurse Practitioner
Licensed Nurse Practitioners require a six-month training course to be completed and also provide holistic care. The care they provide is often more involved than that of the CNA, as they often work alongside and underneath RNs and APRNs. Once again, you do not need to first work as an LNP in order to become an RN.
When people think of nurses, they are thinking of registered nurses. RNs make up the bulk of healthcare and yet are experiencing a massive shortage. This shortage is only set to increase as nurses over the age of 55 are set to retire within the next decade. The good news is that with so many great ways to earn your BSN online, from fast-tracked to even part-time, you can redirect your career into nursing and start earning a great wage all at once.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
To become an APRN, you will need to have graduated from an accredited nursing BSN program and hold your RN license. Many programs also require you to have worked as an RN for a full year by the time you start your MSN to qualify. MSN degrees typically specialize in a certain field of nursing, so to become an FNP, you will need to find a great MSN-FNP program that works for you.
Tips to Successfully Earn Your MSN FNP
How long to become a nurse practitioner? The short answer is that you need to be a fully licensed BSN-RN with at least one year of practical experience. With that, you can then apply for and get started with your MSN-FNP.
This master’s degree prepares you for the certification exam and will always include clinical experience built-in, even if it is offered on an online basis.
The FNP role has only been around since 1965 when greater patient demand and low physician populations meant that new avenues for fully licensed practitioners needed to arise. Since then, the education options have expanded dramatically, meaning that you can not only complete your degree online, but you can do it part-time.
What this means is that you can continue to work while slowly progressing through your MSN-FNP degree. You never have to choose between your education and career again.
Where You Can Work as an FNP
The state you work in isn’t the only relocation consideration you should make for your career. Where you work also matters, and there are many more opportunities for FNPs than you may realize. As you provide a more general overview of health and care, you can work in clinics, in hospitals, on projects, privately, and even within your own private practice.
There are so many ways that you can customize your job as a family nurse practitioner, and you owe it to yourself to explore just where you can work and what you can do within your area. Be inspired, and always try to combine your passions so that you can truly enjoy a fulfilling career that you love day after day.