One of the reasons why nursing is such a great career option is that there are so many paths to choose from as well as opportunities for career advancements. Once you have graduated from nursing school and been registered as a nurse, the next step is looking at the available options and deciding which path would be best for you. Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a great option because it allows you to go beyond bedside care and have opportunities for autonomy, career growth, and much more. Below, we will have an in-depth look at why advancing to family nurse practice is an excellent career move.
Increased Professional Flexibility and Responsibility
Advancing family nurse practice means that you have a lot of career flexibility in the types of settings and environments you can work in. Nurse practitioners work in schools, nursing homes, urgent care facilities, clinics, and private practice offices.
Family nurse practitioners also care for and treat patients their whole lives and so have skills that allow them to assess illnesses, prescribe medication, diagnose, order tests and even order patient admittance. Do note that these responsibilities vary with the location you work in so be sure to check what nurse practitioners in your location are allowed to do beforehand.
Nurse practitioners also play a vital role in ensuring the profitability of the healthcare facilities and organizations they work for. This is primarily through the provision of high-quality care that ensures better patient outcomes. Better outcomes often translate to higher revenues for hospital facilities even in cases where nurse practitioners are not concerned about the profitability of the facilities and organizations they work for.
Increased Job Availability
With a nursing shortage that has been getting worse over the years, many healthcare facilities and organizations are starting to realize the role that family nurse practitioners can play in easing this shortage. An obvious way that nurse practitioners can help is by filling roles where they can help best. Some nurse practitioners also act as mentors to help get young nurses into positions where they can make a difference in healthcare thereby playing their role in easing the shortage.
With the recognition of how important they can be for both patients and the healthcare system, there is a steadily increasing demand for family nurse practitioners. A study by CNN Money carried out in 2019 concluded that the demand for family nurse practitioners will continue increasing for the foreseeable future, further giving nurses more incentives to advance their careers.
Autonomy and Impact
Family nurse practitioners are often able to provide more in-depth patient care than registered nurses. They also assume prominent leadership and managerial roles where they can make changes and improvements in the healthcare system. In these roles, they can also become patient advocates where they play a part in crafting new rules and regulations while challenging the old way of doing things to ensure better outcomes for all patients.
While registered nurses can monitor patients, maintain medical records, administer medication, and more, family nurse practitioners can do all this and a lot more. Their additional roles include making diagnoses, managing chronic health complications and supervising nursing teams, or managing whole departments.
In some states, family nurse practitioners have full autonomy where they do not have to be supervised or report to a physician. This means a family nurse practitioner can choose to work where they can help the most people and make the most impact without a physician checking on them.
A Flexible Growth Ladder
All you need to enroll in a family nurse practitioner program is a bachelor’s degree in nursing and a registered nurse license. Many universities will also ask for at least two years of patient care experience within the last five years of your practice. You might also be required to share your previous transcripts, references, and a transcript. Apart from a formal essay, there are no other tests or educational requirements.
If you are ready to enroll in a family nurse practitioner program and are worried about your job, family, or other obligations, then a flexible online program would be an excellent fit for you. Universities like Marymount University have flexible online programs for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) holders who want to transition into family nurse practice. The Doctor of Nursing Practice-Family Nursing Practitioner programs also arms you with leadership skills and other skills needed to provide the best patient care across demographics in demanding and often complex patient care environments.
Work While You Learn
Flexible online programs mean that you can continue working while you complete your family nurse practitioner program. This means that you do not have to take a break to obtain the degree as you would if you worked in other fields.
Apart from the orientation and some clinical work, many of the universities that offer these online programs do not require that you are on campus for the duration of the program. You only need to complete your lecture, take your exams and complete all of your academic requirements in time for graduation.
In many cases, registered nurses are required to choose a specialization before graduating. This means that a registered nurse will often have in-depth knowledge, skills, and experience in a narrow area within the greater nursing field.
Family nurse practitioners, on the other hand, are tasked with taking care of people of all ages. This means they do not have to limit their specializations to a specific area and can therefore obtain certifications in new areas of specialization and practice within them. Family nurse practitioners receive advanced training in everything they need to take care of all their patients and this is why they are able to fulfill so many primary care responsibilities.
Those who are interested in nursing because of the knowledge they can attain as they advance their careers will find family nurse practice to be both challenging and exciting.
The rising demand for qualified family nurse practitioners and the expected employment growth means that family nurse practitioners command a better salary than most other nurses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics in the United States estimates that the employment rate for family nurse practitioners grew by over 30% in the past ten years. This led to nurse practitioners earning over $95,000 as their base salary, with family nurse practitioners who run their own practices earning a lot more.
Additionally, family nurse practitioners can increase their salaries by changing their geographic location and their place of employment. Even when family nurse practitioners decide to work and travel nurses through travel nursing agencies, they command a higher salary than nurse practitioners and registered nurses working in traditional settings and environments.
Apart from having increased responsibilities and greater autonomy, family nurse practitioners also have lots of leadership opportunities available to them. These opportunities are available in policy advocacy, academia, research, and education.
Family nurse practitioners can conduct research that helps develop new patient education programs. Because of their training and extensive experience, family nurse practitioners are also in a better position than registered nurses to engage the relevant policymakers as part of their patient advocacy responsibilities.
Lastly, family nurse practitioners who wish to work as program administrators or instructors in academia can make the switch easily. Universities and nursing schools are often looking for qualified advanced nurse practitioners to teach younger nurses and family nurse practitioners fit these roles perfectly.
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Have a Real Impact on Patient Lives
Family nurse practitioners are concerned with patient-centered care and ensuring their patients get the best outcomes. Family nurse practitioners help ensure that the families and patients they care for have fewer emergency room visits, lower medication and treatment costs, and shorter hospital stays. All of these are a result of the vigilance and regular visits to the nurse’s practice.
Additionally, family nurse practitioners monitor and keep in touch with their patients through longer treatments for chronic illnesses and conditions. By staying vigilant and available, family nurse practitioners can catch potential complications before they become bigger issues. This can help prevent these issues from escalating to the point where a patient needs to make an emergency room visit.
Because of their autonomy and ability to work anywhere, family nurse practitioners practice in rural and underserved areas, serve a wider range of patients and communities, and serve vulnerable populations including those who do not have insurance. All of these groups are unable to receive the right level of care and, even when they do, it is often so sporadic that it does not help. By being available to these patients and communities, family nurse practitioners have a greater impact on communities that would otherwise have been left unattended.
There are lots of reasons why a career in nursing is a great choice. However, those who get into nursing also get lots of opportunities to advance their careers through following paths like becoming family nurse practitioners. Doing so affords them lots of benefits as we have discussed above.