A career as a family nurse practitioner (FNP) can be gratifying, especially for nurses desiring autonomy and an expanded scope of practice. Due to anticipated physician shortages, there has been a significant uptick in demand for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including FNPs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand is expected to continue for at least the next decade, increasing 52% from 2019 to 2029.
Nurses considering this route are frequently relieved to find that transitioning to an FNP role is achievable. Accelerated online programs, like a Master of Science in Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN FNP), prepare you for certification, which ultimately leads to increased earning potential and career opportunities. Here are the six steps necessary to become an FNP:
- Maintain Valid RN Licensure
To be eligible for entry into an MSN FNP program, you must maintain a valid and unencumbered RN license.
- Complete Your BSN
A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree provides a solid foundation for nurses interested in expanding their careers — both RNs and APRNs. With a focus on evidence-based practice, patient safety strategies, leadership and research, BSN graduates possess a wider skill set and the requisite knowledge to pursue graduate studies. In addition, a BSN degree generally offers more career opportunities, as the majority of employers (82.1%) strongly prefer BSN-prepared graduates, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).
- Research and Enroll in an MSN FNP Program
Not all MSN FNP programs are the same, so you must research carefully to find one that fits your needs. An online format allows for greater scheduling flexibility and the ability to complete coursework from anywhere. Online programs often have accelerated pacing, too, which shortens the overall time to completion.
If you decide to go this route, check that your geographic location is included in the institution’s coverage area and that the program is accredited by an independent body, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation serves to ensure the overall integrity and quality of the curriculum.
- Earn Your MSN FNP
Once you have decided on a program, now is the time to focus on your studies. An online format simplifies this for busy, working adults. In La Salle University’s online MSN FNP program, students can complete the courses in seven weeks apiece. It’s possible to complete the degree program in as few as 20 months. Clinical practice sites are coordinated in your geographic area, so travel is also minimized. Out-of-state students may need to take a more active role in obtaining clinical sites.
- Become Certified
Though regulations vary from state to state, certification is strongly encouraged and typically a condition of employment. You should begin preparing for your certification exam a few months before graduating from an accredited MSN FNP program. Both the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) offer FNP certification exams.
- Seek New Career Opportunities
With your advanced degree and certification in hand, you are ready to seek new career opportunities. FNPs are employed in a variety of settings, including physician offices, outpatient clinics and community health centers. You also are likely to benefit from an increased salary; full time FNPs earn a median total annual income of $96,092, according to March 2021 data from PayScale.
Invest in Yourself
Becoming a family nurse practitioner is more attainable than ever before. An online MSN FNP program with accelerated pacing allows you to complete the degree in as few as 20 months and do so from virtually anywhere. Plus, thanks to growing employer demand and boosted earning potential, the investment in yourself can pay dividends.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses
American Association of Nurse Practitioners:
Are You Considering a Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse Practitioner (NP) Certification