How To Be a Family Nurse Practitioner


If you are a nurse looking for more responsibilities, professional development, and remunerative opportunities, becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner might be the right path toward progress.

Few career paths have grown exponentially in recent decades, and family nurse practitioner is one of them.

According to BLS, the median annual wage of nurse practitioners is $123,780, and overall employment is projected to grow by 40% from 2021-2031.

An FNP is a highly qualified nurse who provides primary healthcare facilities to all patients. You need to be excellent at critical thinking and possess exceptional communication skills to succeed in this role.

Family nurse practitioners go through extensive educational training and practice. These APRNs typically collaborate with a physician but possess a high level of sovereignty and sometimes have their private practices.

If you are interested in becoming an FNP but do not know how to get started, let us help you out.

How to Get Started

If you are planning to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, there are many ways to get there. You can choose:

  • On-campus programs – These programs take two years to complete and include clinical rotations at different healthcare facilities.
  • Online programs – They typically last one year and offer flexibility for working professionals who want to work full-time while pursuing their degree.

In this e-learning era, RNs with valid licenses can now opt for a 12-month FNP program online at William Paterson University, enabling them to access all the knowledge they need without giving up their career or lifestyle.

The FNP certification equips nurses with the skills and knowledge required to provide primary care to patients in outpatient settings.

Now let us discuss the steps you need to follow to become a Family Nurse Practitioner:

1. Understanding the Role of FNP

FNPs are healthcare professionals who have graduated from an accredited nursing program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Professional Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

As Family Nurse Practitioner, you are the primary care provider for your patients, building lasting relationships and working with an elevated level of autonomy.

You may work in various settings, such as ambulatory surgery centers and chronic care facilities, due to your ability to work independently and collaboratively. Apart from that, you can work in other subspecialties also, like cardiology, oncology, surgery, etc.

The major responsibilities of an FNP include the following:

  • Educating patients and their families
  • Diagnosing illnesses
  • Providing treatment and care
  • Collaboration with doctors and other healthcare professionals

2. Qualify as a Registered Nurse

If you wish to apply to any online FNP program, you are required to complete a degree that will qualify you as a registered nurse. After that, you need to register yourself as a certified RN.

To become a registered nurse, you need to obtain at least an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) from an accredited college or university with at least ninety credits (or 120 credits if you plan to pursue your master’s degree).

Upon successful completion of your degree, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN and meet the nursing board requirements of your respective state to become a Registered Nurse.

As an RN, your responsibilities may include:

  • Administering medications
  • Assisting in recovery
  • Providing pain management treatments
  • Educating patients about their health needs
  • Performing administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments and maintaining medical records

3. Apply and Complete an Accredited FNP Program

In order to become an NP, you will be required to earn an MSN degree that includes clinical experience and knowledge.

Choosing an accredited FNP program online can be daunting. Once you choose, make sure the curriculum meets all requirements necessary for licensure and is deemed acceptable by accrediting bodies(CCNE and ACEN)

4. Complete Your Clinicals and Graduate

FNP program clinicals are the most important part of the program. On-campus and online programs usually need 500-600 clinical patient hours under proper supervision.

With the growing popularity of online programs, the number of clinical hours required for each program varies. Some programs may require more clinical hours based on their accreditation standards.

In addition, graduate-level courses in health assessment and pharmacology must be completed before appearing in these certification exams.

5. Pass the Certification Exam

After graduating from the FNP program, you are now eligible to sit for one of two FNP certification exams:

  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • American Association of Nurse Practitioners

The ANCC is the largest certifying body for FNPs. They offer an exam that can be taken online or in person. The exam covers  175-200 questions assessing knowledge related to topics such as healthcare ethics and professionalism, patient safety, regulatory guidelines, and pharmacotherapeutics.

AANP offers a certification exam but is not as widely accepted or recognized by other states’ boards as ANCC. This certification exam comprises 150 questions that assess your knowledge in various areas such as clinical decision-making and patient education etc.

6. Obtain State Licensure

You must acquire a license in your state, and different states have their requirements. If you have not obtained your license, you need to apply for one and pass the exam before being certified as an FNP.

Once your application is approved, there are several steps involved in obtaining a license:

  • Apply for certification from the state department of nursing. This can take up to six months or longer.
  • Pass an exam administered by that board of nursing’s office that evaluates knowledge related to FNP certification requirements and regulations set forth by each state’s board of nursing.
  • Pay fees associated with applying for this exam at least two weeks prior.

7. Start Your Career as a Family Nurse Practitioner

A Family Nurse Practitioner is the primary source of care for many patients and provides most of the same services as a doctor.

To start your career, it would be best to work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. FNPs can work in:

  • Healthcare Agencies
  • Nursing Homes
  • Outpatient Clinics
  • Urgent Care Sites

8. Recertification

Certification is time bounded, and certification renewal must be met within a 5-year time.

There are two requirements for your certificate renewal:

  • At least one thousand hours of NP clinical practice completed within five years.
  • Minimum one hundred contact hours of advanced CE(an additional requirement by state) completed within five years of the certification period.


Becoming FNP is a challenging but rewarding career. It is a journey that takes time, commitment, and demanding work. This can be stressful at times, but it is also very fulfilling because you make a difference in someone’s life every day.

So, if you have the patience and determination to succeed, becoming an FNP will be worth it!




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