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Family Nurse Practitioner Program

What sort of education do I need to become a family nurse practitioner?

A family nurse practitioner needs to have a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing from a program that offers preparation for the family nurse practitioner specialty. While most master’s programs are oriented towards the eventual completion of a nurse practitioner specialty, there are programs that offer the Master of Science in nursing (MSN) with an orientation toward being a nurse educator or administrator.

How long does it take to become a family nurse practitioner?

Those starting straight out of high school with the goal of becoming a family nurse practitioner will spend six or seven years on their education and clinical training. This includes the completion of a bachelor’s and master’s degree. A full education includes general education requirements specific to the respective family nurse practitioner schools, so there is time spent in studies away

Do I need to complete my education all at once?

It is not uncommon for students to work their way up the nursing ladder, so to speak, and become a nurse practitioner in smaller increments. Student could complete courses of study to become LPN/LVNs and then start working, furthering their nursing education while they work in the field. LPNs could get their bachelor’s degrees in nursing and become RNs, then continue working towards their family nurse practitioner certification while employed as RNs.

While this does prolong the education process, it allows a nurse to earn an income while getting a more advanced degree. It also gives an FNP candidate valuable work experience, and in some cases existing work settings can be used to complete clinical hour requirements.

If a student with an LVN or RN level education is interested in becoming an FNP, there are specialty programs designed to make this happen without duplication in education or clinical training. Sometimes called “bridge” programs, these programs are crafted to build on existing coursework to advance knowledge, not repeat it.

What sort of courses would I take to become a family nurse practitioner?

The coursework in an FNP program is geared towards creating an exceptionally well-qualified nursing professional. Courses are challenging, and many include lab-work to teach beyond textbooks. FNP programs should also ensure that the population specialty coursework required by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) is incorporated into the curriculum.

Core courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and health care principles will be included in the FNP program for a student newly entering the field, or will be built on for students who already have nursing degrees. Many classes in an FNP program are progressive and build on earlier coursework. Assessment courses, for instance, advance throughout the curriculum, as do theory and practice courses.

Classes in a family nurse practitioner program may include:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Legal and ethical considerations in nursing care
  • Principles in primary care
  • Pharmacology
  • Geriatric medicine
  • Pediatric medicine
  • Community health principles
  • Advanced nursing theory

When do I declare my family nurse practitioner specialty?

If you’ve decided that family nurse practitioner is the specialty for you, you’ll want to declare that in your nurse practitioner program soon. The agency that certifies family nurse practitioners, the ANCC, requires that a number of courses specific to the specialty you’ll be testing in be taken, so you want to make sure that you have time to include those in your course schedule. Also, provisions will be made to make sure that your clinical hours include a heavy percentage of time spent gaining exposure to family nurse practitioner jobs.

Can I take family nurse practitioner classes online?

Many nursing programs are including web-based coursework for their students since this creates more flexibility and helps eliminate travel to and from the campus, which can be a challenge for students who are working or who have families. Courses are just as challenging when provided online, as the curriculum standards are set quite high to create skilled clinicians. There are also some learning institutions that offer their entire curriculum online for students who already have baccalaureate degrees in other fields.

Is there practical training in a family nurse practitioner program?

Nursing is a hands-on profession. While a tremendous amount of information can be learned in lectures, labs and from books, the application of that knowledge always takes the form of working with actual patients in a clinical setting. Family nurse practitioner programs establish very thorough clinical rotations for their students. Additionally, the ANCC sets a 500 clinical hour requirement in order to be eligible to sit for the national examinations.

Family Nurse Practitioner Schools