What are the education, certification, and skills requirements to become a family nurse practitioner? Find out the standard FNP requirements, and five key steps to fulfill them.
A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) trained to provide primary, preventative, and general medical care across the lifespan. They coordinate and administer care to infants, children, adults, and the elderly.
The American Association of Nurse Practitioners identified that individuals workings as FNPs are passionate about providing care to diverse populations while advocating health promotion and educating patients on disease prevention.
Due to the level of responsibility and autonomy in their careers, a family nurse practitioner is required to obtain a master’s degree with a family nurse practitioner focus. After meeting the educational requirements, FNPs are also required to earn certification in their field. Combined, these prerequisites enable FNPs to work in various settings, including community health centers, emergency rooms, physicians’ offices, school clinics, and more.
In terms of skills requirements for FNPs, Registerednursing.org listed the following desirable traits as portrayed in most FNP job descriptions:
- Effective communication skills
- Emotional intelligence with the aptitude to establish relationships with coworkers, patients, and the public
- Experience with electronic health records
Read on to discover more about the family nurse practitioner profession and get an in-depth look at the FNP requirements!
Five Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Requirements
Below are five critical steps toward a rewarding FNP career.
1. Become a certified registered nurse.
To apply to a graduate FNP program, prospective students must obtain their bachelor’s degree in Nursing from an accredited nursing school, typically with a 3.0-grade point average (GPA). This will qualify them for a master’s degree program.
A bachelor’s in Nursing, commonly called a BSN, can be earned through different formats. The most standard is a four-year, entry-level BSN program for new nurses. However, aspiring RNs can earn an associate degree in Nursing first, then complete an RN-to-BSN program after gaining experience. Those who change careers to nursing may enroll in an accelerated BSN program if they’ve already obtained a bachelor’s degree in another discipline.
FNP candidates must also be licensed nurses in a U.S. state or territory by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. It is recommended that registered nurses work for one to two years, gaining care experience and patient exposure before applying to a family nurse practitioner program.
Although admission requirements vary per the FNP program, most applicants must provide their resumes, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement for consideration. As noted above, a GPA requirement may also be set for FNP applicants.
2. Complete an accredited FNP program.
Accredited FNP programs can be found via the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Program accreditation is also often posted on the higher educational institution’s website.
A great FNP curriculum will include courses in leadership theory, professional practices, and the policy and politics of healthcare. In addition, students will study advanced reasoning, pharmacology, advanced practice through the lifespan, as well as gain 600 hours of clinical experience. Family nurse practitioner programs typically take one to three years to complete.
Because many students are already working nurses, some FNP programs (like Goodwin University) will offer flexible options for candidates. This includes online FNP courses, and a class schedule that you can coordinate with your admissions counselor. Most institutions are also aware that enrolling in a family nurse practitioner program is a significant investment toward future career goals, and make tuition transparency easily accessible.
3. Apply for family practice certification.
FNPs are required to become certified before practicing in the field.
Two organizations offer FNP certification — The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The ANCC awards the FNP-Board Certification (FNP-BC), and its exam emphasizes nursing policy, advanced research, and theory. In contrast, the AANP awards the FNP-Certification (FNP-C), and its test focuses more on clinical management like assessment, diagnosis, and patient evaluation. The ANCC exam has 175 questions, while the AANP has 150, and it takes around three hours to complete each online test.
Eligibility requirements for each certification include a current and active RN license, a master’s degree or postgraduate degree from an accredited FNP program, at least 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours, and the completion of graduate-level courses in advanced physiology/pathophysiology, health assessment, and pharmacology.
4. Obtain FNP certification in your specific state.
Location-specific FNP application fees and processes, clinical hours, continuing education credits, and renewal requirements vary per state and territory. Be sure to check licensing requirements by state before applying.
5. Renew your FNP certification.
Once a family nurse practitioner earns their certification, it must be renewed every five years. The certifying organization may also have specific renewal requirements, such as a minimum number of clinical practice hours, continuing education credits, and renewal fees. An FNP’s state certification must also be renewed; however, the renewal timeframe depends on the particular state.
Fulfilling the FNP Requirements
A career as a family nurse practitioner is worthwhile, as FNP professionals are widely in-demand and well incentivized. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected the nurse practitioner profession to grow 52% from 2020 to 2030, adding 29,400 openings each year. Additionally, the average annual salary for nurse practitioners as of May 2021 was $120,680.
If you’re looking to inspire continual hope, influence holistic practices in patient care, and make an impact healing communities, consider becoming a family nurse practitioner.
Find your future as a family nurse practitioner today! Click here to learn more about earning your master’s degree as an FNP.