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Family Nurse Practitioner Job Description

By an allied health world contributing writer

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Do all family nurse practitioners have the same sort of job description?

It is somewhat of a challenge to describe the job of a family nurse practitioner, because it will vary considerably based on the state you live in, and the setting where you work.

A family nurse practitioner can work in a physician’s office or a freestanding clinic. Clinics can be either privately owned or public. A family nurse practitioner may work in a hospital or do rounds in skilled nursing facilities. An FNP may also work for a hospice or home health agency. Because of the variety in the work settings, the family nurse practitioner job description can be quite varied.

What are the typical responsibilities for a family nurse practitioner?

Despite the variety in the jobs that an FNP may hold, there are core responsibilities that will be taught in all family nurse practitioner programs.

family nurse practitioner on the jobAssessment:  An FNP must be able to see a patient who is sick or injured and make a determination about the most likely source of the problem. The ability to analyze symptoms and observations and turn them into a diagnosis is essential to the work performed by family nurse practitioners.

Treatment:  Once the diagnosis has been made, an FNP must identify the most appropriate course of treatment. Does the patient need medication or tests? Does the case need to be referred to a specialist or a therapist? Is the condition urgent? Should the patient go to a hospital? In most settings, the first course of treatment will be based on the FNP’s recommendation, so the job of an FNP will include prescribing treatment.

Education:  The core philosophy of the field of nurse practitioner is health and wellness. This requires ongoing teaching for all patients, both young and old, about good health practices and illness prevention. A family nurse practitioner will look holistically at the needs of his or her patient as well as their family or caregivers so as to provide information and education about the best approaches to maintaining or improving health.

What does an average workday look like for a family nurse practitioner?

In general, the FNP will spend the day seeing patients, but how those visits are organized depends largely on the work setting.

An FNP who works in a family practice setting with physicians and other FNP’s will generally have a day of scheduled office visits. The same is true for the FNP who works in any type of freestanding clinic. FNP’s who are part of family practice clinics may also complete rounds on patients in skilled nursing facilities. FNP’s may visit patients who are hospitalized, or consult when a patient is being referred to a specialist or therapist. Workdays in these types of settings will include time to complete documentation, as good record keeping is essential to managing a patient’s health.

A family nurse practitioner who is part of a hospital team may see patients by completing hospital rounds and assisting floor nurses and other hospital staff by directing care or reporting to the attending physicians. Again, documentation is an essential component of the job as medical records are the means by which health care professionals share information with each other.  Specific courses offered through family nurse practitioner schools address this vital component.

There are FNP’s who work in hospice and home-health agencies, and these practitioners travel during the day to patients’ homes. Seeing a patient in their home setting; however, gives a very accurate impression of the patient’s status, including how well care is being managed in the home. This gives the FNP an excellent opportunity to provide education on good practices, and teach both the patient and his or her caregivers the best techniques.

Do family nurse practitioners participate in health and wellness?

The nurse practitioner’s professional commitment to health and wellness makes them especially well qualified to advocate for a patient’s overall health maintenance, and for an NP who has pursued specialized training in family practice, this creates opportunities to educate patients in all stages of life, and across many types of health care settings.

An FNP may promote health and health education in a patient visit, or they may be part of a large program of education and advocacy for certain conditions and illnesses within a given population as part of a health fair or a corporate wellness program. An FNP who works for an insurance carrier may participate in company initiatives to provide information to its members. Or an FNP may even champion a patient who is struggling to navigate the health care system.

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