As the field of health care continues to cope with shortages of professionals in crucial areas, many nurses are pursuing careers as nurse practitioners. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), more than 75% of nurse practitioners (NPs) work in primary care roles, and about half work as family nurse practitioners (FNPs), providing primary care for children, adults, and elderly adults.

Among the responsibilities of a family nurse practitioners are performing physical exams, diagnosing various health problems, and analyzing test results for patients of all ages and stages of life. FNPs must have different soft, technological, and medical skills to be successful in their field.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program offers a Family Nurse Practitioner track that teaches FNPs many of these and other skills. The curriculum gives students a foundation of knowledge to be successful family nurse practitioners.

The Family Nurse Practitioner Role at a Glance

A nursing student can begin on the path to becoming an FNP by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and then passing the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse.

An entry-level nurse will gain experience by administering medications, developing health care plans for patients, taking vital signs, helping physically transfer patients, feeding and dressing patients, cultivating a safe space for patients, and more. As registered nurses work alongside physicians to care for patients, they may desire to earn a more advanced degree and pursue a nursing career with more primary care responsibilities and a family nurse practitioner salary.

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree with a family nurse practitioner track can help nurses prepare for a specialized career in health care. They can then earn a certification and become family nurse practitioners, serving families and patients as their primary care providers.

Many important duties of family nurse practitioners relate to administering care for patients of all ages. These duties include promoting health through diet and exercise, conducting examinations, performing wellness assessments, administering medications, conducting screening tests, formulating treatment plans for acute health issues, and creating long-term plans for managing chronic illnesses. The position of family nurse practitioner also involves specialized care, such as addressing women’s health issues and developing wellness strategies for children.

The Family Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Growth

The median annual family nurse practitioner salary is approximately  $95,900, according to February 2021 data from PayScale. Factors such as education level and years of experience affect salaries. For instance, entry-level family nurse practitioners earn a median annual salary of about $91,000, while family nurse practitioners with 20 or more years of experience earn a median annual salary of approximately $104,000. Location also plays a role in family nurse practitioner salaries. Median annual salaries for family nurse practitioners in major metro areas typically exceed the national median, according to PayScale data.

Health care providers continue to demand more qualified nurse practitioners who can effectively fill the roles of primary care providers. Employment for nurse practitioners is projected to grow 45% between 2019 and 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is much faster than the average for all occupations.

The Skills of a Family Nurse Practitioner

To be effective, a family nurse practitioner (FNP) must have  skills such as advanced leadership, interpersonal communication, and resourcefulness. From the beginning of their careers, registered nurses develop empathy, conflict resolution, communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving competencies. An MSN can help further refine these skills and prepare nurses for advanced practice.

Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing degree program offers a Nurse Practitioner concentration and a  Family Nurse Practitioner track for nurses looking to advance their degree and become FNPs. The program’s broad-based curriculum, built around a holistic approach to health care delivery, enables students to master core competencies. The program provides a structured framework that prepares students for advanced practice roles in health care. Centered on research, inquiry, analysis and other skills, the curriculum is  directly applicable in the workplace, such as in the diagnosis, prescription, and management of acute and chronic illnesses. Areas of emphasis include evidence-based practice, ethics, and diversity and social issues.

By taking core courses and participating in clinicals, nursing students learn how to accurately diagnose, monitor, and treat a variety of health conditions for patients of all ages. After earning an MSN, nursing students can pursue a certification as a family nurse practitioner.

Pursue an Online Master of Science in Nursing

Family nurse practitioners play a vital role in the care of patients of all ages. An advanced education can help nurses prepare for the responsibilities that come with this important position. Explore how Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing degree with a Nurse Practitioner concentration and its Family Nurse Practitioner track can help you  pursue a career in family practice nursing.

Recommended Readings

The Nurse’s Role in Preparing Patients for Flu Season During a Pandemic
The Role of the Family Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care
Effects of the Continuing U.S. Nursing Shortage



Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care, American Association of Nurse Practitioners
What’s a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?, American Association of Nurse Practitioners
Average Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary, PayScale
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Can Nurse Practitioners Help Ease the Growing Physician Shortage?, U.S. News and World Report

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