The Benefits of Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner
The nurse practitioner (NP) role was conceived nearly sixty years ago to address the need for primary care services for the underserved, especially in rural areas. Since then, nurse practitioners have become integral to patient care delivery in the U.S.
The contemporary NP role is expanding and constantly evolving due to changing health care regulations, broadened health insurance options, an increased focus on preventive care, and an aging population with chronic conditions. NPs take a whole-person approach to care, concentrating on the patient as an individual and as part of a family or community.
If you’re considering returning to school to earn your master’s and become a nurse practitioner, you may wonder if it’s worth the time and financial investment. This blog looks at the benefits of being a nurse practitioner so you can make an educated decision about your future.
What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Seven out of ten of the 355,000 practicing NPs provide care as a family nurse practitioner (FNP). FNPs play a central role in the delivery of high-quality health care services and are highly regarded as partners in the care of patients across the lifespan. They marry advanced practice nursing skills with treatment management, advocacy, and compassionate care.
The FNP role extends nursing practice by treating and educating the whole person, not just the symptoms. In all fifty states, FNPs can prescribe medication. They provide patient-centric care by assessing patients, ordering and interpreting tests, presenting diagnoses, managing treatment plans, and coordinating care with allied health professionals.
The scope of the FNP reaches even further because it also focuses on health promotion and disease prevention while providing education and counseling to guide patients to make better health and lifestyle choices.
Let’s look at the benefits of being a family nurse practitioner. To help remind you, remember the acronym FAVES — Flexibility, Autonomy, Versatility, Earning Potential, and Satisfaction.
Flexibility for Well-Being
No matter the career, everyone wants a healthy work-life balance. One of the many nurse practitioner benefits is that NPs can work in a variety of clinical environments.
Family nurse practitioners can step away from the confining hours and schedules of hospital bedside work and find satisfaction in other areas with more flexibility and freedom. The nature of FNPs’ practice is more autonomous, and their independence and leadership in the profession lessens the need for strict oversight by administration.
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the top practice settings for FNPs are outpatient clinics, private group practices, and private physician practices.
Other types of environments where you’ll find FNPs blending their clinical expertise with compassionate care include emergency rooms, urgent care sites, nursing homes, schools, colleges, and public health departments.
Autonomy in Practice
Autonomously and in collaboration with other health care professionals, FNPs provide a full range of primary and specialty health care services to all types of patients across the lifespan, from infants to older adults and every age in between. Most have full practice authority, whereas FNPs in some states still need physician oversight. What does it mean to have full practice authority?
Full Practice Authority
In states with full practice authority, nurse practitioners are allowed to evaluate and diagnose patients, order tests, and manage treatment plans. They also have full privileges to prescribe medications and controlled substances without physician oversight. With full practice authority, NPs can have their own practice.
For states that don’t allow NPs to practice to the full extent of their education and experience, there are reduced and restricted practice licensure agreements in place that regulate what NPs can and cannot do independently.
NPs Are Filling the Provider Gap
One in four primary care providers in rural practices are nurse practitioners. The percentage is even higher in states that allow them to practice to the full extent of their education and clinical training.
Millions of patients trust NPs as their primary care providers, as demonstrated by the more than 1.06 billion patient visits annually.
Versatility in Your Career
The scope of the family nurse practitioner is broad and versatile because they deliver primary care to diverse patient groups across the lifespan. According to the AANP, the top clinical focus areas for FNPs are family, primary care, and urgent care.
FNPs must sort through a long list of reasons for seeking care, presenting symptoms, and chief complaints to drill down to a short list of diagnoses. After all that information is gathered, some principal diagnoses they treat are abdominal pain, urinary tract infection, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
With such a broad spectrum of skills and diverse patient populations, the family nurse practitioner's role is ideal for subspecialization opportunities. You can achieve additional certification* at any point during your FNP career including these popular subspecialties:
- Critical Care
As an FNP, you do not have to specialize, but you may find that adding a certification expands your employment opportunities and allows you to practice within a focused area in which you are passionate.
*Each certification has its list of requirements for eligibility and is not granted as part of any MSN-FNP degree program.
Earning Potential and Job Stability
Registered nurses (RNs) are an essential part of the health care team, but their duties are often more one-dimensional in nature. On the other hand, nurse practitioners often act as quarterbacks of integrated patient care and are compensated accordingly.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2022 that the national average salary for all NPs was $124,680, nearly thirty percent more than the national average for all RNs. In other words, it pays to earn a master’s as a family nurse practitioner.
According to the BLS, these industries and five states pay six-figure salaries to nurse practitioners with a master’s degree.
Top-Paying Industries for Nurse Practitioners
Home Health Care Services
Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations
Grantmaking and Giving Services
Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
Top-Paying States for Nurse Practitioners
2.) New Jersey
The BLS occupational outlook for NPs through 2031 shows a forty-six percent increase, much faster than the average, proving job stability is solid, and employment opportunities are substantial.
Why? According to the 2020 Census, one in six people in the United States is aged sixty-five and over — roughly fifty-five million people. This booming cohort and a projected physician shortage offer family nurse practitioners an opportunity to bridge the gap and provide quality, comprehensive health care services.
Satisfaction on the Job
While the earning potential for nurse practitioners is significant, financial gain may not be your only motivator if you are considering a career as an NP. Choosing the path to becoming a family nurse practitioner is likely driven by your desire to help people.
Treating patients independently as an FNP, using your skills and advanced education, is both gratifying and empowering. Being the central point of care, you become very close with your patients and are relied upon as a trusted and respected provider. As such, you can influence and empower them to understand the value of preventive care and the importance of healthy lifestyle choices.
Satisfaction goes both ways. Being an FNP who prioritizes listening to patients and nurturing their physical and emotional expectations is more likely to lead to a positive and trustworthy patient-provider relationship.
Making a real difference in your patients’ lives while being highly compensated and recognized for your hard work leads to job satisfaction, as published by U.S. News & World Report.
The 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Job Rankings awarded the nurse practitioner:
- No. 1 in Best Health Care Jobs
- No. 2 in 100 Best Jobs
- No. 2 in Best STEM Jobs
Why did the NP role rank so high? According to the report, it pays well, challenges people, matches their talents and skills, isn’t too stressful, offers room for advancement, provides work-life balance, and is in demand.
Get Started on the Path to Becoming an FNP
The benefits of being a family nurse practitioner include flexibility, autonomy, versatility, earning potential, and satisfaction. When you’re ready to advance your career, American International College (AIC) has two points of entry to become an FNP.
AIC’s online MSN-FNP is designed for working nurses to earn their master’s in just eight semesters. The online FNP Post-Master’s Certificate is ideal for those with a master’s degree in nursing who want to expand their scope of practice.
Both programs are fully accredited and offer 100% online coursework, clinical hours with a preceptor near you, and time-saving clinical placement services.