A family nurse practitioner (FNP) is an attractive role for nurses seeking greater involvement with patients. The role is more challenging than that of a registered nurse (RN) but is more satisfying too. FNPs benefit from more diversity in patient experiences. Along with RNs, FNPs are on the frontlines of patient care. Unlike RNs, FNPs follow their patient care from start to finish. That means FNPs are better placed to encourage preventive care for patients. This article explores what an FNP is, why nurses choose to become FNPs, and how they encourage preventive care for patients.
What’s an FNP?
Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) deliver healthcare to patients of all ages. They belong to a family of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), including certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists.
FNPs are nurse practitioners (NPs) specializing in primary care for families and people of all ages, including infants, children, youth, adults, and seniors. FNPs deliver the following comprehensive primary care: performing exams, managing patient records, treating acute and chronic illnesses, managing health conditions and injuries, and running or ordering diagnostic tests.
How FNPs encourage preventive care for patients
Preventive healthcare is the set of activities and services healthcare organizations provide to prevent illnesses, diseases, or other health problems. These include routine check-ups, immunizations, patient counseling, and screenings.
FNPs play a primary role in encouraging and providing preventive care for patients. The main aim of this approach to health promotion is to “reduce illness and early death through medical interventions targeted towards whole populations or at-risk groups.”
The preventive approach can operate at three levels:
- Primary prevention: preventing the onset of disease
- Secondary prevention: attempting to prevent disease from progressing
- Tertiary prevention: seeking to mitigate harm in people who have already developed a disease
Routine check-ups, immunizations, and screenings are all examples of primary prevention. Patient counseling operates at the level of primary prevention but also operates at the secondary or tertiary prevention levels. For example, counseling could be provided for patients at risk of alcohol misuse but would more likely be provided for patients already affected by alcohol misuse. In the case of patients misusing alcohol, preventive care attempts to stop misuse from progressing or to mitigate harm.
Immunization against diseases is a key preventive healthcare measure. FNPs would encourage their patients to stay up to date with immunizations and boosters. An FNP would recommend the following common vaccines for adult patients in the United States: flu, Tdap (protection against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough), HPV (protection against human papillomavirus), and COVID-19.
Screening is another key preventive healthcare measure. FNPs would encourage their patients to complete screenings for a variety of diseases. The two main types of screenings are universal screening and case finding. Universal screening, as the name suggests, involves screening all individuals in a certain category. Common universal screenings for all children include hearing, hematocrit or hemoglobin, and vision. Case finding involves screening a smaller group of people based on the presence of risk factors. Examples of case finding include screenings for cholesterol, diabetes (type 2), hepatitis B, HIV, and lung cancer.
Immunizations and screenings both fall under disease prevention and are essential preventive care measures. Another key measure of preventive care is health promotion. FNPs encourage their patients to adopt healthy behaviors. Helping patients make healthy choices is one of the first and best measures of preventive care. Discussing lifestyle choices with patients can be an effective measure for FNPs providing preventive care. Alcohol consumption, diet, mental wellbeing, physical activity, and smoking cessation are all topics of conversation an FNP would have with patients.
Encouraging patients to make healthy lifestyle choices not only helps reduce illness and prevent disease but also reduces the strain on healthcare organizations. Resources are increasingly strained for many organizations, so preventing the onset of illness or disease by promoting healthy behaviors and choices is an important weapon in an FNP’s arsenal.
Why become an FNP?
There are a lot of reasons why a nurse would choose to become an FNP. Carson-Newman University, located in Jefferson City, Tennessee, offers a brilliant online degree program for those interested. Carson-Newman’s course covers everything a nurse would need to know, and provides information about what the average FNP salary is, in addition to education and possible career paths.
As of October 2022, the average FNP salary is $98,700. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 46% growth in NP roles by 2031, which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. The BLS projection represents an additional 118,600 jobs.
FNPs enjoy more career stability and autonomy. It’s a fast-growing career with many opportunities for progression. Over 325,000 FNPs are employed across the country. US News ranked the position second on a list of the top 100 jobs in 2022.
Demand for FNPs is expected to increase, making the role a stable career option. A shortage of nearly 139,000 physicians is expected by 2033. FNPs can help fill essential positions. The skill level of FNPs and their resulting autonomy allow them to fill healthcare gaps in rural and underserved areas. FNPs can provide comprehensive care through full practice authority (FPA), though authorization varies by state.
The importance of FNPs providing preventive care
FNPs will often act as the first port of call for patients seeking help. They play an essential role in preventing illness and disease and promoting healthy lifestyle choices. Many nurses are drawn to the FNP role because they want more involvement with patients, not less. The best FNPs have compassion, empathy, patience, and the endurance to tackle a tough but rewarding job.
If you’re a nurse who has those qualities and seeks a more challenging but ultimately more rewarding role – not to mention more autonomy, more stability, and higher salaries – then the path toward a career as an FNP could be the right one for you to take.