Expand your clinical knowledge with an FNP degree

EDITOR'S NOTE: Content provided by Duquesne University Online Nursing.
editors-note
When the Institute of Medicine (IOM) called for nurses to take a forward-looking role in healthcare delivery, the goal was to position the profession to lead transformational changes in U.S. healthcare. Almost a decade later, family nurse practitioners are leading initiatives to provide safe and effective patient-centered care and forging a path for the future of nursing.
Today, some 234,000 nurse practitioners are practicing across the United States, in hospitals, medical centers, and private practice locations. More than 62% of NPs work as FNPs, diagnosing illnesses, conducting medical exams, prescribing medications, and helping patients manage chronic conditions. Experts say the role of the FNP will expand in the coming decade.
“Nurse practitioners continue to be one of the solutions to America’s healthcare,” said David Hebert, chief executive officer of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. “As healthcare reform moves forward, nurse practitioners will be front and center. The increasing number of individuals choosing to be a nurse practitioner is an affirmation of this outstanding profession.” As the U.S. population ages, the number of patients with chronic conditions increases and the demand for medical care rises. Experts say a career as an FNP opens doors to a multitude of opportunities.
Since the IOM released its 2010 groundbreaking report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, experts have been heeding the call for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to “practice to the fullest extent of their education and training.” For many APRNs that means pursuing a career as an FNP. One of the many benefits of an FNP career is the leading role in health outcomes, including addressing the primary-care physician shortage. Other benefits of earning an FNP degree include the following:
Earning an FNP
To become an FNP, registered nurses must pursue a masters-level degree with a focus on diagnosing and treating patients and managing acute and chronic health problems. In addition to classwork, FNP students are required to complete a specified number of hours of clinical work. RNs who already have a master’s degree in nursing may also be eligible to take coursework toward an FNP post-master’s certificate. The AANP, as well as other professional organizations, urge all registered nurses who want to pursue a career as an NP to seek an accredited program that offers coursework either online or on campus. Programs, such as those offered online at Duquesne University, prepare graduates for the FNP licensure certification exams. FNP-program graduates must also successfully complete state licensure requirements for full employment.
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Benefits of an FNP career
Job flexibility – Depending on the employment situation, FNPs can work full time and part time in a variety of healthcare settings, including in private practice, hospitals and storefront medical clinics. FNPs also work as educators, scholarly writers and in temporary positions.
Independent practice – To date, 22 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have given nurse practitioners the right to practice independent of physician supervision and the freedom to prescribe medicine. Proponents say the changes will lead to improved access to healthcare across the country.
Student loan forgiveness – Several state and federal programs may cancel all or part of student loan debt for APRNs, including FNPs, who work in underserved areas. For example, the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program pays 60% of unpaid nursing education debt in exchange for two years' work at federally designated critical shortage healthcare facilities.
Salary and employment prospects – The U.S. Department of Labor said the median pay for all NPs in 2016 was $107,460. Employment opportunities are expected to grow by 31% through 2024 due to changing healthcare legislation, an increased emphasis on preventive care and the increase in the aging population.
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Helping diverse communities – FNPs work in large and small locations across the country, from major metropolitan hospitals to small rural health clinics. Their education allows them to work in community partnerships or overseas. In many cases, FNPs fill roles as primary healthcare providers, as a growing number of people seek medical attention.
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An FNP's story
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The benefits of earning an FNP are varied and many

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