Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are advanced healthcare practitioners with similar responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications. However, their training and paths toward certification differ in significant ways. This blog post unpacks the key differences between NPs and PAs to help you determine which career path best aligns with your goals. What Is a Nurse Practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) is a licensed clinician who provides comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. An NP can work in virtually any healthcare setting, diagnosing patient conditions and prescribing medications. As of October 2022, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 27 states, meaning that they can practice Read more
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Role Specialty
In the United States today, family nurse practitioners are in more demand than ever because of our aging population and the shortage of primary care physicians. The employment of nurse practitioners in health science is projected to grow a robust 45% during the current decade, 2020-2030.1
FNPs and other advanced practice RNs are increasing access to primary care for adults, children, and families from historically underserved populations. Today, 81% of full-time NPs see Medicare patients and 78.7% see Medicaid patients.2
In our family nurse practitioner (FNP) role specialty, you can prepare to answer this call-while expanding your responsibilities and positive impact on patient care. With your health science FNP credential, you can serve as a primary care provider across settings, from private nursing practice to hospitals to community health centers. The family nurse practitioner program will help you work with people of all ages to diagnose and treat conditions, prescribe medication, and order tests, working from a strong focus on health promotion and education to improve outcomes. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), BSN-entry DNP, and Post-Graduate Nursing Certificate students at USAHS may pursue the FNP role specialty.
FNP Role Specialty At a Glance
- Online coursework + one required on-campus clinical intensive
- 50 credit hours + 585 practicum contact hours
- 8 trimesters (2.7 years), although acceleration options are available*
- Sept., Jan. & May start dates, plus midterm starts
*Time to completion may vary by student, depending on individual progress, credits transferred, and other factors.
FNP Clinical Intensive
The FNP or Family Nurse Practitioner role specialty features one required clinical intensive, where you can fine-tune your advanced practice nursing skills in one of our state-of-the-art Centers for Innovative Clinical Practice. Guided by expert faculty, you will participate in simulated real-world clinical scenarios with your peers and receive personalized feedback and support. For example, you will join other health professions and learn to provide differential diagnoses, perform needle aspirations of joints, read x-rays, and suture the wounds of standardized patients.
This specialty in nursing education requires 585 hours of practica over three courses. You may complete your practica with a preceptor who is a nurse practitioner or other appropriate clinician and who meets accreditation and state licensure requirements. You’ll gain experiential learning about the role of a family nurse practitioner from a mentor who is working in this capacity. A dedicated advisor on our clinical education team will work with you to secure practica sites. (Students should plan on the need to travel and on some occasions, relocate for practica.)
Role Specialty Learning Outcomes
In addition to the FNP program learning outcomes, graduates of the Family Nurse Practitioner role specialty are expected to achieve the following learning outcomes:
- Perform comprehensive health assessments that incorporate diagnostic reasoning and the interpretation of diagnostic procedures.
- Engage patients and families in planning for health promotion, prevention of disease or disease progression, and symptom management.
- Apply critical thinking in the diagnosis and problem identification of complex issues related to clinical practice, individuals, populations, and systems of care.
- Provide ethical, patient-centered care based on best evidence, clinician expertise, patient preference, and circumstances.
- Evaluate outcomes of care and treatment plan using individual and aggregate data.
- Implement the role of an FNP in a professional, respectful, and ethical manner.
Get in touch today to learn more about a Family Nurse Practitioner Program.
1Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, “Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners,” last modified Sept. 8, 2021: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
2American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), “NP Fact Sheet,” updated May 2021: https://www.aanp.org/about/all-about-nps/np-fact-sheet