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Family Nurse Practitioner – Job Description and Career Outlook

Job Descriptions October 17, 2013

A family nurse practitioner is a primary care provider for people at every stage of life. Here is some information for those interested in learning more about the job itself as well as the salary and education required for the field. Similar to a primary care physician, a family nurse practitioner will offer education, tests, procedures, checkups and more at each stage of the life cycle. They work with an emphasis on preventive care and health promotion. They often work with a wide range of patients with a variety of health backgrounds. They will sometimes work directly under a physician and other times can run their own private practices. Those interested in the position should be able to work independently and be oriented towards their patients.

Work Environment and Job Duties

Family nurse practitioners work in a variety of environments. Some will work in hospitals, others in private offices, hospice centers, schools, homes, health centers, and potentially their own practices. The different environments will have differing hours and demands. Those who work in standard offices or private practices will work more reliable hours with a standard 9-5 or similar schedule. Those in hospitals or hospices may have a wider variety in hours.

Many nurse practitioners will work for a physician who will oversee their diagnosis and proscribing medication. The degree of autonomy had by nurse practitioners varies from state to state. In some states they are able to diagnosis and proscribe medication independently, others will require nurse practitioners to have degree of oversight by a licensed physician. In all states, nurse practitioners can work by examining patients and determining diagnosis and treatment options. They also order patient lab tests and assist in minor surgical procedures.

Requirements and Education

The first step to becoming a family nurse practitioner is to become a registered nurse. The interested student must go through an accredited bachelor’s degree program and pass the NCLEX. Although registered nurses typically have the option of obtaining an associate’s degree, this particular position requires a master’s degree. The interested students should pursue the bachelor’s degree instead. Once the nurse has become a registered nurse, they will need to obtain an advanced degree to become a nurse practitioner. They can then take additional certifications to become a certified family nurse practitioner. This certification will require the nurse to take courses in family nursing theory and intervention, research, primary health care concerns, leadership preparation, acute and chronic illness management, and related courses relevant to nursing for a full life cycle.

Salary and Career Outlook

Those interested in becoming a family registered nurse have a promising job outlook over the next few years. The growth rate for registered nurses in general is projected to be around twenty six percent, which is above the average for the rest of the job market. Much of this growth is a result of the aging population combined with improving medical technology, which allows for treatment of conditions that previously would not have been treatable. There have also been reports of growing interest throughout the country in using registered nurses to help bring greater access to primary care to impoverished areas or in populations that are traditionally medically underserved. Registered nurses can help fill in the gaps and ensure that more people have access to primary care and so it is likely that there will be a very good growth rate for this position. People and governments are quickly realizing the value these nurses bring to healthcare.

Those interested in becoming a family nurse practitioner also have a strong salary outlook. Registered nurses in general make a median salary of $64,690 per year, although this varies based on place of employment. Those in private general medical and surgical hospitals have a median salary of $66,650, followed by those in physician offices, followed by local hospitals, then home health care services, and finally those in nursing care facilities at $58,180. The average salary for a family nurse practitioner falls within the range of $63,000 to $85,000. This will also depend on the region and nurse’s place of employment.

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