Nurses have the unique ability to make an impact on people’s lives while also enjoying professional success. Nurses seeking to advance their knowledge, skills, and career potential may find themselves looking towards higher-level credentials in the field. Becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) is a great option for those hoping to assume more responsibility and autonomy in their roles. Aspiring APRNs may also consider becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP), a rewarding career that involves working with individuals across the age spectrum. So, what is the difference between an APRN vs. FNP?
Simply put, FNPs are a type of APRN. As an APRN, you can choose to specialize in many different areas of nursing. FNPS share similar skills and education experience as other APRNs. However, each type of APRN is equipped to work with their specific population and use their specialized skills to do so. Learning about APRNs and FNPs will help you to better understand the difference between these nursing credentials. You can then begin to figure out which path is right for you, and how to fulfill a career as a nurse practitioner.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
Before differentiating between an APRN and FNP, you must know what defines an advanced practice registered nurse. APRNs must have at least a master’s degree in nursing, a registered nurse license, and clinical experience. They can use this advanced education to specialize in a particular field of medicine. Their duties will range based on their specialization. Typically, though, APRNs can be found creating plans of care, diagnosing illnesses, administering treatment, and, in some states, prescribing medication. They also serve the role of educating their patients to focus on preventative care. Because of an APRN’s level of education, they usually are given more autonomy in the workplace. This allows them to coordinate care plans for their patients and act as a key practitioner in patients’ treatment.
One of the biggest advantages of becoming an APRN is the many versatile fields and credentials you can pursue. Beyond an FNP, there are many different types of APRNs, each with their own unique skills and knowledge sets. One common type of APRN is a clinical nurse specialist (CNS). A clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is an APRN whose goal is to promote overall wellness of their patients. However, these professionals usually have less autonomy in patient care and work more closely with staff to educate them. Another common type of APRN is a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). They deal primarily with anesthesia-related care and are vital when it comes to surgery and helping those who may be in life-threatening danger.
A psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) is a type of APRN that is growing in demand. PMHNPs specialize in the care of those with mental health disorders, often including substance abuse. PMHNPs not only diagnose these patients, but also provide therapy and treatment options to alleviate difficult symptoms. Another popular type of APRN is a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) who cares for their patients through preconception, prenatal, and postpartum care. When looking at just some of the types of APRNs, it is easy to see why so many people strive to become an APRN so that they can specialize in a field they love.
Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse with specialized education in family practice. An FNP has passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and has either earned their master’s or doctorate degree. An FNP’s patients can range from infants to the elderly. Most FNPs work in family practice and act as primary care providers (PCPs) for patients. However, some FNPS work in hospitals, hospice centers, home healthcare, school clinics, and community health centers. Like many APRNs, most FNPS work under the supervision of a doctor, while others are allowed to work independently depending on state regulations. In Connecticut, FNPs can work independently after three-years of working under a doctor.
So, what does an FNP do? The general goal of FNPs is to promote overall wellness in their patients. FNPs are responsible for diagnosing, prescribing, and treating common and acute illnesses. As primary care providers, they often have an emphasis on preventative care, ensuring that their patients maintain their health. Educating their patients on what encompasses a healthy lifestyle is a crucial part of prevention. FNPs’ skills help them successfully work with all ages and build personal relationships with their patients.
As previously mentioned, FNPs are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). This means that every FNP is also an APRN. An FNP is set apart from other APRNs because they have skills needed to handle patient care at all ages, and to act as primary care providers in a clinical setting.
Every type of APRN requires a specialized education. The first step in becoming an APRN-FNP is to enroll in an accredited master’s degree program, with a focus for Family Nurse Practitioners. After completing an FNP program, you will need to become certified by passing the Nurse Practitioner national certification examination. Following, aspiring FNPs need apply for a license in as a family nurse practitioner (FNP-APRN). You can complete this by submitting the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Licensure application. You will have to renew your license annually and always be continuing your education. Following this pathway will ensure that you have acquired the right skills and credentials to succeed as an APRN-FNP.
APRN vs. FNP: Which Path is Right for You?
When it comes down to APRN vs. FNP, there is no doubt these are both extremely rewarding fields. What is something they both have in common? You must earn a master’s degree in order to obtain either of these career titles. You must have the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to work directly with patients and administer care – all qualities that a graduate program can provide.
Whether you want to become an FNP or an APRN in another area of nursing, it is important to know how you can achieve this goal. Earning a career-oriented master’s degree from an accredited nursing school will set you up for success in your future. Goodwin University offers a flexible nursing program that will suit your schedule. For those seeking to become an FNP, courses can be completed entirely online so that you can still continue working as an RN. Being able to thrive in these impactful careers is possible for anyone looking advance in this field.
If you are ready to start your exciting journey towards becoming an FNP-APRN, reach out to Goodwin University today! For more information call 1-800-889-3282 or visit us online.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.