When you earn a master’s degree as a family nurse practitioner, you have many choices for the family nurse practitioner career path you follow and where you put your skills to work. Family nurse practitioners are needed in many types of medical facilities, from hospitals and doctor’s offices to community clinics. Demand is high in all of them.
Responsibilities are also increasing. With more nurses earning a master’s degree, many nurses, including those who enter a family nurse practitioner career, are taking on job duties once associated with family doctors.
Why Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
A family nurse practitioner career offers the rare combination of a job that is both a calling and in high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 31% increase in the number of nurse practitioners by 2026, a far greater increase than the average projection for all jobs (about 7%).
Texas ranks as one of the highest employers of nurse practitioners among all the states, with 12,020. The Houston metropolitan area is among the top markets in the country for the employment of nurse practitioners, according to the BLS.
Also, the number of nurse practitioners in Texas is expected to increase by 43.8% by 2026.
Family Nurse Practitioner Career Paths
Whatever the specific job title or location where they work, family nurse practitioners typically have some or all the following job duties, according to Johnson and Johnson. The company reports that family nurse practitioners have many of the same job duties once associated with family practice doctors.
Those jobs duties include:
- Examining patients, diagnosing illness, prescribing medication and developing treatment plans
- Overseeing patient care, maintaining medical records on each patient and referring patients to specialists
- Teaching patients and families about disease prevention and healthy habits
In terms of where they work, nurse practitioners have many choices. Examples include overseeing a nurse-run care facility, working with families at a community care clinic, working with patients at an individual hospital and working in a doctor’s family practice.
Education Requirements for Family Nurse Practitioners
To become a family nurse practitioner, nurses first become an RN and earn a bachelor’s degree through an RN to BSN program. Once they earn their degree, graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (known as NCLEX-RN), which makes them eligible for licensing in individual states.
They then enter a master’s degree program, developing the skills needed to develop a family nurse practitioner career.
Using the Houston Baptist university curriculum as an example, nurses in a master’s program learn skills such as:
- Advanced nursing research
- Leadership for quality, safety, and health policy
- Advanced health assessment
- Advanced skills for primary care
- Advanced diagnostics
- Growth and development across the lifespan
- Advanced pharmacology
At Houston Baptist, the hybrid online course allows nurses to get their master’s degree in about two years, earning 40 credits over 15 courses. To give nurses an education that prepares them for real-world challenges, the school uses a competency-based model that focuses on the needs of employers as well as the requirements of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties.
Once they earn their master’s degree, graduates must earn board certification.
A family nurse practitioner career not only places nurses in a rewarding job but also one that is in demand. For nurses who want to specialize in family practice, a master’s degree in the field is the first step toward achieving their career goals.