How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner


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There are many career paths to choose from when it comes to nursing, and a Family Nurse Practitioner is one of them. This role is different to a nurse practitioner, as rather than tending to a range of different age groups and healthcare issues, an FNP focuses more on helping families with their healthcare, whether that is coming up with healthcare plans for parents or children, carrying out health assessments, evaluating lab results, and so on. This can be an attractive career path for many nurses, and you can work in a variety of environments as an FNP, including private practices, hospitals, and physician’s offices. Hours are usually around 40 hours a week, but this will depend on where you work and whether or not you want to work on weekends/overtime.

If you are a nurse who is thinking about what to do next in their career and this sounds appealing to you, here are some tips on how you can become an FNP.


If you are a nurse already, you will already have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but you will need to look at returning to college if you want to move into an FNP role. You can enroll in online degree programs such as this MSN FNP program which will be a more flexible approach to achieving your degree. This way, you can still work full-time and fit your learning around any other commitments you may have in your daily life. 

If you are not currently working as a nurse and are interested in pursuing this as a career, you will have to gain your bachelor’s degree as the first step in your career. Again, there are online courses you can take if this is better suited to your needs, but you will need to make time for a work placement as part of your education. Getting a master’s degree or Doctorate to further your education can open doors to a variety of other roles in nursing, too, not just as an FNP.

Try to Gain More Relevant Work Experience as an RN

Work experience is important to any kind of job, especially if you want to try and get yourself a promotion and move into a different role. While working as a registered nurse, see if you can get more time working with primary care physicians or supporting other FNPs to understand this role better. At the very least, ask if you can shadow an FNP for a day or two if working directly with them is not possible. 

Get Your Certificate from the ANCC

As well as getting an advanced degree in nursing, you will also need to get a certificate proving your competency from the American Nurses Credentialing Centre. To get this, you will need to take an exam to demonstrate your abilities as a family nurse practitioner. Some of the areas that will be marked included how to carry out a physical examination, your understanding of legal issues relevant to the role, and the ethics attached to it. You will need to renew your credential certificate every 5 years. 

Get Your Nurse Practitioner License

One of the final steps to becoming an FNP is getting the relevant medical license. When you first became a nurse, you will have had to get your registered nurse’s license before you could get hired. The same applies here, and it is a legal requirement for FNPs to have a nurse practitioner license. Your state will have its process for assessing you and giving you this license, so take the time to do some research into this beforehand to help you speed the process up. 

Seek Employment

Once you have become a fully licensed nurse practitioner, you can then seek employment as an FNP. You might be lucky enough to move into this area while remaining at your current place of work if you want to but be prepared to have to move on if there are no vacancies for this role. There is demand for FNPs, so finding a position should not be too difficult.

Is Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner Worth It?

Whether becoming an FNP is worth it or not is entirely down to you. If you are a nurse who wants to advance your career, this will certainly be a step up, but it is important to remember that there are plenty of other areas you can specialize in that will move you up the career ladder. Take the time to consider your options so you can find out which route is right for you.

If you decide to become an FNP, you will find it to be a very rewarding career move. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the working hours can be steadier and more structured, particularly if you are working in a physician’s office or clinic with set opening hours. This might be appealing to those who want to move away from shift patterns, as is common in nursing, and start getting into a better weekly routine. This role also comes with a great salary, and although money isn’t the most important thing, this is certainly a nice incentive. Add these things to job stability and increasing demand for nurse practitioners, and it is highly likely that you will consider all of your hard work to get into this role worth it. 

If you are a nurse who is ready to move up in your career or an individual who is considering a career in nursing and you are curious about your options, becoming a family nurse practitioner could be the perfect career move. If you like working with patients one-on-one and are looking for a more structured workday and are ready to take on more responsibilities and learning opportunities, you should start taking the steps to become an FNP. It will take time and hard work, but it could be the smartest career move that you will make.