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How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

What’s the first step to becoming a family nurse practitioner?

Have you always wanted to help people? Does the field of health care interest you? Then this career might be right for you. But given the amount of time and energy you will invest in your education, it’s important to know if it’s a good fit.

Volunteering at local health care facilities or medical centers will give you a good idea what the job responsibilities of a nurse are, but you will want to make sure that you gain a clear understanding of specifically what a family nurse practitioners does. Because a floor

What credentials do I need?

In order to be an FNP, you must have a master’s or doctoral degree from a qualified nursing program, have family nurse practitioner certification from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or other certification agency, and be licensed by your state of residence.

How do I become certified as a family nurse practitioner?

The ANCC certification process involves meeting the educational criteria necessary to be eligible to sit for the national certification examination, and then passing the examination itself. To be eligible to sit for the examination, you must:

  • Be a licensed RN in your state of residence
  • Hold a master’s or doctoral degree from a family nurse practitioner school accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Have completed course content in areas specific to the FNP certification, including advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, health promotion, disease prevention and differential diagnosis
  • Have completed at least 500 hours of faculty supervised clinical hours

Once these requirements are demonstrated, a candidate can schedule the examination. The exam is computer based. The ANCC offers classes and study groups to help a candidate prepare for the test.

How do I get my nursing license?

Licenses are issued by the Board of Nursing in each state (specific department names vary). All states in the US require a practicing FNP to have a license. Most states require that a candidate attend a Board approved nursing program and hold certification issued by the ANCC.  The licensure process typically involves applications and proof of eligibility, and may involve fingerprinting and background checks.

It is important to note that some state requirements may differ from those established by the ANCC. For example, some states may require education in ethics; some may have more demanding clinical hour requirements. Most family nurse practitioner programswill ensure that graduates meet both the ANCC and state of residence requirements.

What is the difference between certification and licensing?

Certification ensures that a candidate possesses a standardized body of knowledge. Family nurse practitioners have broad responsibilities with regard to their patients’ care and passing the certification exam ensures that FNP’s possess the knowledge and skills that their profession will demand of them.

Licenses are issued by each state, as each state establishes exactly what a health care professional can and cannot do. Licensure demonstrates to the state’s population that an FNP holds the proper certification and knows what his or her scope of practice is.

How many national exams do I need to pass in the course of becoming an FNP?

In order to become a family nurse practitioner, a candidate must pass two national examinations.

The ANCC requires that a certification applicant already possess the title Registered Nurse, which includes passing the National Clinical License Examination (or, NCLEX).  Then, there’s the ANCC certification exam for family nurse practitioners. Once this examination has been passed, the candidate holds the title FNP-BC, or Family Nurse Practitioner – Board Certified.

Family Nurse Practitioner Schools

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            Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
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