Job Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioner

Are you interested in providing family-oriented health care? Family nurse practitioners provide care and treatment to patients from childhood to adulthood.

Nurse practitioners are advanced level nurses providing the same services performed by physicians. As a family nurse practitioner, you will be working with patients of all ages, from newborns to the elderly. The primary task you will be responsible for is to educate and encourage patients on healthy living by means of disease prevention, early detection and health management. As part of the family nurse practitioner job, you will diagnose and treat sicknesses and injuries, monitor diseases, start and maintain your patients’ medical histories and records, carry out physical exams, perform diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and provide immunizations. However, the exact family nurse practitioner job description and ability to work independently of a physician is determined by state law.

Nurse Practitioner Education Requirements

The first step to becoming a family nurse practitioner is to complete the necessary educational requirements to become a registered nurse or RN. This means earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree and passing the National Council Licensure Exam for registered nurses or the NCLEX-RN.

Most states require individuals to obtain at least a Master of Science in nursing or MSN degree with emphasis in a field such as family practice, internal medicine or women’s health as well, which typically takes two years to complete. Alternately, you may opt to enroll in an accelerated master’s degree program so you can earn a BSN and MSN within three to four years. The coursework for these graduate level programs include pharmacology, public health ethics, health assessment, family primary care, and epidemiology.

The master’s degree is required before these professionals can get family nurse practitioner certification and licensing. Come 2015, however, several employers are increasing the stakes by requiring nurse practitioners to possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP degree. Nurse practitioner schools offer these degrees, and online family nurse practitioner programs are available as well.

Nurse Practitioner Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes nurse practitioners together with registered nurses; their annual median income was at $64,690 in 2010. However, advanced practice nurses like nurse practitioners typically earn more than RNs in most cases. In addition, the salary for nurse practitioner varies depending on the certification they earned, years of experience, and even by state. As of 2013, PayScale.com reports that the annual median income received by family nurse practitioners is at $83,587. In comparison, Payscale.com reports that the annual median income received by registered nurses reported is $55,583.

BLS.gov predicts that the employment of all nursing professionals will increase 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations. This reason for this predicted growth is primarily due to technological advancements; increased priority on preventive care; and the huge number of the aging baby boomer population who will require more health care services. Family nurse practitioners work in clinics, emergency rooms, intensive care units or specialized care centers.