5 Benefits of a Family Nurse Practitioner Career

Americans make more than 870 million visits to nurse practitioners every year, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), making nurse practitioners the health partner of choice for many people.

Nurse practitioners, along with other advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) like nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives, have been called on to help with the continuing physician shortage. APRNs have assumed more responsibilities for healthcare services in recent years, and the results have been good. An 18-year systematic review of literature published in Nursing Economics revealed that “care provided by APRNs in collaboration with physicians is similar to, and in some ways better than, care provided by physicians alone.”

If you would like to provide primary care services to patients of all ages, a family nurse practitioner (FNP) career could be a strong option. Few healthcare careers can boast the blend of benefits that this option offers.

The following sections examine some benefits of choosing a family nurse practitioner career.

5 Benefits of a Family Nurse Practitioner Career

1.      Career Growth

Employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow 36 percent by 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which also ranked it No. 6 on their list of fastest growing occupations This job outlook is better than the high projections of other APRNs, such as nurse anesthetists (16 percent) and nurse midwives (21 percent).

Growth for all APRNs is linked to the overall demand for healthcare services. APRNs perform many of the same services as physicians, and APRNs will be increasingly used in team-based care models, especially in hospitals, physician offices, and other settings where preventative and primary care are provided. APRNs are also needed to care for the large, aging population of baby boomers.

The demand for nurse practitioners is noteworthy. Nurse practitioners lead other APRNs in projected job growth because they play a central role in providing preventative and primary care to patients. The specialty of family nurse practitioner, for example, centers on preventative and primary care for patients.

2.      Salary

Nurse practitioners earn a median annual wage of $110,930, according to the BLS.

The jump in compensation from registered nurse to nurse practitioner is considerable. Registered nurses earn $70,000 annually, which means that based on official figures, a registered nurse can expect more than a 55 percent raise in salary by becoming a nurse practitioner.

Choosing to pursue a family nurse practitioner career is not only good from a job growth perspective, but also from a salary perspective. Many nurse practitioners can anticipate choosing from positions that pay well and offer good benefits.

3.      Autonomy (Plus, Better Work-Life Balance)

Similar to physicians, family nurse practitioners are able to serve as the regular healthcare provider for children and adults. In caring for their patients, FNPs:

  • Obtain medical histories and perform physical examinations
  • Diagnose and treat acute health problems, as well as chronic diseases
  • Prescribe medication and other treatments
  • Provide prenatal care, well-child care, and health maintenance care
  • Order, perform, and interpret diagnostic studies
  • Promote positive health behaviors and self-care skills through education and counseling
  • Collaborate with physicians and other health professionals as needed

An increasing number of states have expanded nurse practitioners’ scope of practice to “full practice” status. This is the model recommended by the Institute of Medicine, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, and other health and policymakers. As of June 2018, 23 states have granted full practice to nurse practitioners. Each state maintains a defined practice environment:

  • Full Practice: Nurse practitioners can evaluate patients, diagnose, order, and interpret diagnostic tests, initiate and manage treatments—including prescribe medications—under the exclusive licensure authority of the state board of nursing.
  • Reduced Practice: Nurse practitioners have reduced ability in at least one element of NP practice. State law requires a regulated collaborative agreement with an outside health discipline for the NP to provide patient care, or it limits the setting or scope of one or more elements of NP practice.
  • Restricted Practice: NPs are restricted in at least one element of NP practice. State law requires supervision, delegation, or team management by an outside health discipline for the NP to provide patient care.

In full practice states, nurse practitioners can own their own practice and enjoy a high level of autonomy. Even if this isn’t in the case where you want to practice, at least for now, you can still enjoy high degree of control over your work. Once you earn the education needed to enter the family nurse practitioner career, you should have plenty of employment options and the ability to consider going into private practice in the future (alone or with other healthcare providers). Physician assistants can’t practice with autonomy.

All of this also means that you can enjoy a quality of life that other professionals, such as physicians, might not have. Working hours are more predictable than other tracks, and that is true for educational routes, too; schedules in medical school and residency can be arduous for those wanting to become physicians.

4.      Difference Made in Patients’ Lives

Nurse practitioners are set apart from other healthcare providers by their unique emphasis on the health and well-being of the whole person, according to the AANP. These professionals can lower out-of-pocket costs with their preventative health focus and other factors. Patients who see nurse practitioners as their primary care provider have fewer emergency room visits, shorter hospital stays, and lower medical costs.

Patients report “an extremely high level” of satisfaction with the care that they receive, the AANP added.

5.      Educational Requirements

A Master of Science Degree to become a nurse practitioner can be completed in 3 to 6 years. If you decide that you would like to pursue another APRN specialty after completing your master’s degree, many of your previously completed MS courses will be recognized.

How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a family nurse practitioner requires successful completion of a master’s in nursing. As an advanced practice nurse, you may decide to continue your education and earn a terminal degree in nursing, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree, which focuses on the clinical aspect of improving patient outcomes, or a Ph.D. in Nursing, which is a research-focused degree.

Rivier University’s online M.S. Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner degree allows you to gain the skills and knowledge you need to serve as a primary healthcare provider. You’ll be prepared for many in-demand positions across several types of healthcare settings. You’ll gain advanced theory and clinical education in topics such as pathophysiology, health assessment, family nursing theory, quality healthcare improvement, and more.

Rivier also offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This clinically-focused program will help you practice at your maximum potential as a clinician. You’ll learn how to lead interdisciplinary teams designed to improve patient quality of care, utilize informatics to enhance clinical decision-making, and critically evaluate scholarly research.

Take your skills in patient care to the next level with Rivier University’s online programs.