A Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) works directly with patients to conduct physical examinations. They also help in the diagnosis of various health problems. They have a hands-on approach, delivering counseling and treatment to their patients. In many states, they are also allowed to order laboratory tests, analyze the results and make recommendations on the best course of treatment. Furthermore, they are sometimes allowed to prescribe medication. NPs also work together with physicians during complicated medical procedures including surgery. Sometimes, NPs work completely independently and at other times they are part of a full medical team. They also have a strong focus on promoting health and preventing diseases.
How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner
To become a family nurse practitioner one must first become a registered nurse, which is done by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). They then take their licensure exam, after which they can study towards a master’s degree in nursing (MSN) that is needed to become an NP. There are also a number of accelerated tracks for those who have non-nursing bachelor’s degrees or no bachelor’s degree at all.
There are many different factors that will influence how much a FNP will be paid. However, the salary is very good, even at entry level. The average salary is between $60,934 and $96,582. Additionally, most NPs will be eligible for a number of bonuses and they often receive extra compensation. One of the most common compensation schemes includes profit sharing, which can be as much as $19,866 per year. Because of this, the actual average take home pay for a nurse practitioner is between $63,105 and $104,558.
Some of the most important factors that influence how much an NP will be paid include:
- The education and training they have received and continue to receive.
- The area they have specialized in.
- Where in the country they work.
- The type of employer they work for.
Family Nurse Practitioners also receive a number of very interesting benefits. These include:
- Medical insurance (71% of NPs receive this).
- Dental insurance (56% of NPs receive this).
- Vision insurance (39% of NPs receive this).
- Up to three weeks paid vacation per year, although this is at the top end of the scale, for nurses with the most experience.
- Saving plans (401K or 403B).
- Reimbursement for education, which many nurses now take advantage of, particularly since many education programs are offered online and can hence be done alongside work.
- Disability insurance.
- Life insurance.
- Malpractice insurance.
The certification the nurse practitioner has is perhaps one of the most important factors influencing how much they will be paid. At present, the best paid certifications are:
- APRN-BC (Advance Practice Registered Nurse – Board Certified): salary ranging between $63,895 and $101,706.
- AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners): salary ranging between $62,147 and $97,209.
- ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center): salary ranging between $64,666 and $97,965.
- CFNP (Certified Family Nurse Practitioner): salary ranging between $60,641 and $101,636.
Another very important factor is the length of time the FNP has been working. Most nurse practitioners have already been employed in a field of healthcare (mainly registered nurses) for up to nine years before they become a nurse practitioner. Sixty-eight percent of nurse practitioners have worked between one and nine years, which means the majority do not immediately study towards their master’s degree in nursing. The more experience nurses have, the higher their salary will be as well. The average salaries depending on experience are:
- Less than one year: up to $86,302.
- Between one and four years: up to $92,861.
- Between five and nine years: up to $96,965.
- Between ten and 19 years: up to $102,593.
- Over 20 years: up to $111,306.
Finally, geographical location is also a major factor in determining salary. On average, the salary is highest on the East Coast and West Coast, while Midwestern states pay the least. However, this is also due to the fact that the cost of living is much higher in the East Coast and West Coast areas. Hence, their spending power is generally the same. The difference can be very significant, with the average top salary of a nurse practitioner in California being as much as $109,349, while nurse practitioners in Florida get $92,569.
Job Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioners
The job outlook for family nurse practitioners is very good. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth in demand for FNPs is 19% by 2020, which is well above the national average. Furthermore, salary growth over that same period of time is believed to be 22%, again above the national average. This is mainly due to the fact that the world of primary health care is changing due to a significant shortage in physicians. In addition, the shortage becomes more acute because of the aging population. This affects the workforce, as many nurses are now approaching retirement age, but it also affects the job role of FNPs, who have to deal with increasingly complex illnesses and the effects of obesity and other common health issues.