Where Do Family Nurse Practitioners Work?
Often the first point of contact for patients, family nurse practitioners provide primary care in a variety of settings and see patients throughout the life span.
It is estimated that by 2032, there will be a shortage of up to 122,000 primary care doctors.1 This is due to several factors, including the retirement of many primary care physicians and an estimated 10% growth in population, including 48% growth in the population of those over age 65 by 2032.1
Family nurse practitioners can help bridge the gap between the need for primary care and the physicians available for such care.
What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?
Family nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses with a master’s degree in nursing, such as an MSN degree. They are educated and certified to treat the whole family. Family nurse practitioners can often diagnose and treat common illnesses and diseases, make referrals, order and interpret lab results, assist in minor surgeries, and write prescriptions—depending on state regulations, which vary.2 Although nurse practitioners often work under the supervision of a physician, many states are allowing them to work independently due to physician shortages.3
Common Settings for Family Nurse Practitioners
Family nurse practitioners have broad primary care skills and can work in many settings. The setting you choose will depend on your career goals and what you find rewarding. Below are some of the most common settings for family nurse practitioners.
Ambulatory Care/Outpatient Care
The majority of family nurse practitioners can be found in ambulatory care, be it a clinic or a private office.3 Family nurse practitioners frequently detail the health histories of several family members over time. Because of this, they become thoroughly knowledgeable about each member and are able to interact effectively with them. These types of patient relationships are exceptionally fulfilling for many FNPs.3
Family nurse practitioners who work in private offices can have a wide variety of duties and often a good deal of autonomy. Private offices that hire FNPs can benefit from being able to serve more patients, as FNPs can carry out many of the primary care duties that physicians can, including prescribing medication, depending on state regulations.4
Other benefits of working in outpatient clinics and private offices include regular workweek hours, time off for holidays and the weekends—as opposed to often unpredictable and longer hours in hospital settings—and a more predictable type of work.5
The desire of and need for more Americans to address their healthcare needs in their own homes has created a strong demand for home health and personal care aides—the highest growth area in healthcare, projected to increase 36% to 4.4 million jobs by 2028.6
Home healthcare can be a great opportunity for family nurse practitioners who value variety and financial security. You’ll experience diversity in location and encounter a wide variety of health conditions and situations.7
Many medical organizations are adding home health to their offerings and are in need of nurse practitioners—so the demand can be high. The downside of this specialty is that it doesn’t come with a typical schedule and positions can be temporary. If you’re interested, experts suggest working with a locum tenens (temporary) agency to see if the varied schedule and environment work for you.7
Rural communities are in dire need of primary care providers. Doctor shortages can leave huge gaps in care. Family nurse practitioners often step in to pick up the slack, working in community health centers and family practice offices. Today, nurse practitioners are viewed by many as the “go to” health provider for rural areas.8 In fact, research shows that 25% of medical providers in rural practices are nurse practitioners, a 43.2% increase between 2008 and 2016.9
One advantage of working in a rural setting is that you may be able to use the full scope of your skills and training and can have a good deal of autonomy—again depending on the state’s regulations. You can provide care to many patients who are traditionally underserved and would otherwise be unable to access the healthcare they need.
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner
Making the decision to further your education and move from a BSN to an MSN degree, or even an RN to MSN online degree, can help you gain the experience and knowledge necessary to have more autonomy in your practice and advance your nursing career.
By earning an online Master of Science in Nursing degree with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization through Walden University’s nursing school, you’ll learn how to work with patients to address common primary care concerns, such as disease prevention, health promotion, health maintenance, and restorative care.
As a family nurse practitioner, you will have the primary care skills needed to practice in a wide variety of settings. Completing Walden University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization, which is based on evidence- based techniques, can give you the competencies you need to boost the level of care you provide and increase positive outcomes for your patients.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program with a Family Nurse Practitioner specialization online. Expand your career options and earn your degree using a convenient, flexible learning platform that fits your busy life.
6source: www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm - tab-6
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.