Due to the dearth of doctors around the country, one of the careers that is gaining prominence right now is the family nurse practitioner job. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) provide services that are similar to the services offered by certain medical doctors, although they don’t have the same level of training and expertise. Many family nurse practitioners operate under the direction of doctors, or at clinics where other doctors practice. In such cases, the doctor is expected to be the final word. FNPs, in some states, can also operate independently, due to their advanced nursing training. In these states, family nurse practitioners can open their own practices, without the need for doctors to look over their shoulders.
Many people may not realize that FNPs have a great deal of training. Most family nurse practitioners have an undergraduate degree in nursing before moving on to getting a master’s degree, although some are registered nurses without a bachelor’s degree before moving on to get the advanced certification. Regardless, you cannot become any type of nurse practitioner without a master’s degree in nursing. Some of these FNPs also go on to get doctorate degrees in nursing. Many family nurse practitioners also specialize in different areas of medicine including pediatrics, oncology, geriatrics, and more. A number of nurse-midwives are also NPs. Others are general FNPs, helping families improve their general health. FNPs are also educators, serving as health advocates who can encourage better outcomes.
Many people don’t realize that FNPs can, in many states, actually diagnosis disease, prescribe medications, and determine treatment. Here are 17 other facts about family nurse practitioners that you may not know:
- 18% of nurse practitioners practicing in the United States work in rural areas. Indeed, many nurse practitioners, include FNPs practice in rural areas. With a lack of doctors in rural areas, it becomes important for these advanced nurses to help out in underserved areas.
- 43% of NPs hold hospital privileges. This means that they can work in hospitals, and treat their patients there. For nurse midwives, hospital privileges are especially important, as well as for FNPs who have patients that need special attention and care.
- Malpractice rates for family nurse practitioners are quite low. Indeed, only 2% of NPs are named as primary defendants in malpractice suits. Some believe that this is because FNPs spend more time with their patients — and that helps patients develop closer relationships with their care givers.
- Only 7% of nurse practitioners see more than five patients per hour. Most FNPs only see three to four patients per hour. This can give patients more time to ask questions. It also allows them to build relationships that patients perceive as close and meaningful.
- 97% of nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners, maintain their certification, according to the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. This is important, because it means that FNPs are staying up to date.
- On average, nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners prescribe 20 medications per day. Being able to prescribe medications allows FNPs some autonomy as they treat patients.
- Indeed, FNPs can prescribe medication in all 50 states. This means that family nurse practitioners can write prescriptions anywhere in the U.S., even in states where NPs are required to work with medical doctors.
- In 48 states, nurse practitioners actually have controlled substance privileges.
- 96% of nurse practitioners are female. Perhaps this isn’t terribly surprising, since most nurses are also female; it makes sense that advanced nurse practitioners would also be female.
- 88% of nurse practitioners are trained in primary care. This means that your family nurse practitioner can also be your primary care health professional. Because of this training, it is little surprise that FNPs are filling some of the void left by a lack of doctors — especially in rural areas.
- Even with so many FNPs being trained in primary care, it is worth noting that 68% of work at primary care sites. Other FNPs work at health clinics, or in hospitals. Others work in specialty health care settings, such as cancer centers, or geriatric centers.
- 49% of nurse practitioners have been in practice, on average, for 12.8 years as family nurse practitioners. This means that almost half of cases, a nurse practitioner is a family nurse practitioner, usually charged with being a primary care health provider.
- Medicare reimburses nurse practitioners 85% of what is paid to doctors. Medicare is reimbursing these family nurse practitioners for the same services. As a result, FNPs are less expensive, and could play a role in helping to slow the rising cost of health care.
- One of the main focuses of family nurse practitioners is prevention. In a health care system that is often about reacting to sickness, family nurse practitioners make an effort to help their patients prevent disease. FNPs focus a great deal on education, and on helping patients live healthier so that they don’t develop disease. Some believe that nurse practitioners focus more on prevention than medical doctors do.
- Nurse practitioners are pushing for more responsibility. In some cases, family nurse practitioners feel as though they could shoulder more responsibility — that right now they aren’t being allowed to practice to their full capabilities. As a result, they want a wider scope for their duties.
- Some medical doctors don’t want FNPs to take on greater responsibility. It might seem as though doctors would welcome nurse practitioners doing more, since it might take some of the pressure off. However, there are huge debates going on right now with regard to the role that NPs should play in health care. It’s an interesting debate, and one that is not likely to be resolved anytime soon.
- Some family nurse practitioners make more than $105,000 a year in total pay. However, $58,000 – $75,000 a year is a more likely scenario. Some nurse practitioner specialties make more than others, though. Indeed, a certified registered nurse anesthetist can make as much as $135,000 a year. However, that isn’t exactly a family nurse practitioner job. But, in general FNPs can make a fairly good living while, at the same time, doing a fulfilling job that can help people improve their lives.