The field of nursing is filled with vast opportunities and different specialties for aspiring nurses to pursue. There are many routes one can take in the nursing field and within our healthcare system, especially as an advanced Nurse Practitioner (NP). The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) path is one of the most commonly chosen NP certifications today. That is because it’s a rewarding path for nurses looking to provide primary care to patients of all ages – from infants to geriatrics. FNPs have a broad scope of practice and an extensive knowledge base as they are caring for populations across multiple age groups.
Although FNPs are a specific type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), there are two possible career outcomes when becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner: FNP-BC vs FNP-C. However, what is the difference between these two titles? When looking at the difference between the FNP-BC meaning vs. FNP-C meaning, it really comes down to the specific certifications each FNP chooses to obtain.
What’s the difference between the FNP-BC vs. FNP-C certifications?
Typically both FNP-BC and FNP-C certifications are obtained after completing an APRN degree focusing on family medicine. The main difference between FNP-BC and FNP-C is that the FNP-BC certification is provided through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), while the FNP-C is provided through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Both of these organizations are credible and well respected within the field. However, the certification exams focus on slightly different content areas, so choosing which test to take is important to the certification you receive and your professional goals.
FNP-BC Certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)
ANCC’s certification for becoming an FNP-BC focuses more on policy, research, and nursing theory topics, and the test is longer than the FNP-C certification test. Many students choose to take this test if they are looking to pursue the academia or leadership route in their career. FNP-BC certifications tend to also be more expensive due to the nature and length of the certification. The cost for this exam is $270 for ANA members, $395 for non-members, and $340 for AANP, GAPNA, or NGNA members.
FNP-C Certification Through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)
The FNP-C certification provided by the AANP is a great option for those who want to focus on the clinical aspect of practice, such as patient assessment, diagnosis, and evaluation. The FNP-C certification exam is slightly shorter and less expensive than the FNP-BC exam. This exam costs $240 for AANP members and $315 for non-members.
Both the FNP-BC and the FNP-C certification require you to have a current RN license, a completed advanced degree in family medicine, 500 hours of supervised clinical hours (direct patient care hours required for FNP-C), and successful completion of specific APRN courses, such as health advanced pharmacology, physiology, and health assessment.
Which FNP credentials are better, and which board examination should you take?
Fortunately, both FNP-BC and FNP-C credentials are credible and equally respected. Deciding which certification to pursue is solely determined by what students want to focus on professionally. As mentioned above, if you want to focus on more policy and theory-related work and go down the academia route, then an FNP-BC may be the better choice for you. Those that want to pursue the clinical route typically choose to obtain the FNP-C certification.
FNP-BC vs. FNP-C: Where do you start on the journey to becoming an FNP?
As laid out above, one of the first steps in obtaining either of these certifications is pursuing an advanced degree in family medicine, such as a Family Nurse Practitioner degree. Goodwin University’s online FNP program is an excellent choice for those looking for a robust, advanced nursing curriculum and flexible online degree options. The curriculum covers everything from current nursing and leadership concepts, to pathophysiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment. This program will equip you with the knowledge and resources you need to succeed as both an FNP-BC or FNP-C. For more information about Goodwin’s FNP program, or the difference between the FNP certifications, contact our advisors today. Call 800-889-3282 or request more information online.