FNP Certification and Certificate Programs

This article discusses educational certificate programs for family nurse practitioners. Read on for certification information, educational prerequisites, potential program coursework and employment outlook statistics.

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Essential Information

A family nurse practitioner (FNP) provides primary healthcare to individuals and families, often in a hospital or outpatient primary care clinic. In most states, an FNP candidate must be a registered nurse with an advanced nursing degree and a family practitioner certificate before becoming an FNP. Certification requirements can vary greatly by state, as can the duties that FNPs are allowed to perform.


Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program

A FNP certificate program combines the skills that students learned in nursing school with a focus on the individualized needs of specific patient groups divided into several categories, including age, health problem and care type. These post-master's certificate programs also delve deeper into other medical areas, such as diagnostic skills, disease research and prescription medications.

Students learn how to provide a wide variety of medical services, which may include critical care, chronic disease care, diagnostic research, home healthcare and medication prescription. They may also learn to provide many of the same services as primary care physicians. These include diagnosing medical conditions, prescribing treatment plans and managing community outreach programs.

Education Prerequisites

Students must have completed a master's degree in nursing (MSN) before applying for a FNP certificate program. Additional requirements typically include having a current registered nursing license and CPR certification.

Program Coursework

Coursework varies according to individual state requirements for FNP certification; however, most programs focus heavily on primary care with individualized attention to specific healthcare groups, such as children, adolescents and senior citizens. Classes may cover:

  • Advanced primary care
  • Clinical care assessment
  • Pediatric care
  • Adolescent care
  • Geriatric care
  • Reproductive health
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Chronic health management
  • Diagnostic reasoning

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Job prospects for all nurse practitioners, including family nurse practitioners, are expected to grow 34% from 2012 to 2022, which is much faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). The overall aging of the population and the lack of primary healthcare resources in rural areas combine to create a growing need for nurse practitioners.

Salaries for NPs and FNPs can vary depending on the region and type of employer; urban areas and hospitals typically pay more, while clinics in rural areas tend to pay less. According to the BLS, the median salary in 2013 for a NP was $92,670.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

After completing a nurse practitioner program, students are eligible to take the national certification test for nurse practitioners, which is available through a few accredited national agencies, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Some states, such as New York, require NPs to apply for a certificate to practice in their specialty area as well.

Family nurse practitioners may also continue their education to specialize in multiple types of family care, such as pediatrics, women's health and geriatrics. Such specialization requires additional college-level coursework in the specific field and students may face additional health board testing depending on state requirements.

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      • Nursing Professions
        • Clinical Nursing
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