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What to expect when transitioning from RN to family nurse practitioner

The role of the nurse practitioner (NP) has been evolving since the profession was first established in the 1960s. Today, NPs are highly sought-after members of the healthcare team, providing primary and specialty care services to patients of all ages. If you’re a registered nurse (RN) with a desire to advance your career, you may be wondering how to become a nurse practitioner. The good news is that there are many paths to NP education and certification.

Transitioning from a registered nurse (RN) to a family nurse practitioner (FNP) can be a rewarding experience. It can also be a daunting one. As an RN, you have already completed a rigorous education and have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. You have likely also gained some experience working in a clinical setting.

The first step in making the transition is to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with a focus on family nurse practitioner studies. Malek School of Nursing Professions at Marymount University Online can help you through this. During your studies, you will have coursework in advanced health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology and other related topics. You will also complete clinical rotations in a variety of settings, such as primary care, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology.

After completing an accredited program, you will be eligible to take the national certification exam to become an FNP. Once you have passed the exam and obtained your license, you will be ready to start your new career!

What is the role of family nurse practitioners?

As the name suggests, a family nurse practitioner works with clients from birth to beyond their 100th birthday. FNPs generally care for children, adolescents and adults of all ages. They also provide preventive care for pregnant women, teach patients and families exercise methods, prescribe medications and treatments when necessary and make referrals to other healthcare professionals when appropriate.

They can work in a variety of specialized fields such as:

  • Family practice
  • Acute care
  • Gerontology primary care
  • Women’s health
  • Pediatrics
  • Palliative and hospice care
  • Mental and psychiatric health

Let’s explore these in more detail…

Family practice

A family nurse practitioner can diagnose, assess and treat a wide range of conditions. These include the flu and minor illnesses such as colds and coughs, as well as more serious health problems such as asthma attacks, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and more. Family RNs who want to take the next step in their healthcare careers are typically educated specifically for this path and can help a patient with all sorts of medical problems.

Typically, family nurse practitioners enjoy one-on-one relationships with their patients and can be found in many different practices. This helps families to work with practitioners they can trust. They focus on preventative care, educating families about health and wellness, diagnosis and treatment. Family nurse practitioners may also specialize further in one specific area of medicine to become a subspecialist, such as a geriatric nurse practitioner.

Acute care

Acute care is the specialty of providing short-term interventions for the immediate management of injuries or illnesses. This may include minor things like a sprained ankle or a broken leg or more serious issues, such as heart attacks or strokes. Acute care nurses focus on helping patients recover from injuries and illnesses and may also assist in the prevention of long-term medical issues.


Family nurse practitioners who focus on gerontology typically work with older adults to address their medical, social and psychological concerns. Some gerontology nurse practitioners work in long-term care facilities, where the majority of patients are seniors. Others may choose to work with a specific population, such as cancer patients or those who have Alzheimer’s disease.

During a geropsychiatric assessment, a family nurse practitioner will evaluate a patient’s mental and physical condition as they age, looking at issues such as mobility limitations, changing moods or behaviors, and other factors that can affect their quality of life.

Primary care

Family nurse practitioners who treat patients of all ages enjoy the flexibility that comes with their role as primary care providers. They can help people manage a wide range of conditions, from congestive heart failure to cancer. They are also well-versed in treating minor injuries and illnesses too.

Primary care nurses may work in private practices or work in group settings such as a hospital or clinic. They often work with a primary care physician and take care of patients with common medical issues. This may include vaccinations, nutrition counseling, vision and hearing care, developmental screening and other preventative procedures.

Women’s health

A family nurse practitioner can provide comprehensive care to women in a variety of ways. They have the skills to manage a range of gynecological problems such as vaginal bleeding, postpartum complications and reproductive cancer screening. They can also meet with women to provide counseling and support during difficult situations, such as the loss of a pregnancy or breast cancer.

Family nurse practitioners who work with women often specialize in maternal-child health. A maternal-child health nurse practitioner is particularly helpful for women who are pregnant or are thinking about having a child as the FNP will learn about the specific needs of their patients and make recommendations for prenatal care, infant nutrition and development assessments and treatments.

Palliative and hospice care

Family nurse practitioners who work in palliative care focus on end-of-life care for patients. They may help manage pain and other symptoms for terminally ill patients and their families, assess a patient’s overall prognosis, provide emotional support to families and make recommendations regarding treatment options or end-of-life care plans.

Mental and psychiatric health

Family nurse practitioners who work in mental health have various professional titles, including psychiatric clinical nurse specialists and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. They work with patients who have a wide range of mental health issues, such as depression, schizophrenia and substance abuse disorders.

How to start strong

The face-to-face connection between family nurse practitioners and their patients is one of the best perks of the career. It’s why many choose to enter the field in the first place, as it allows them to get to know their patients and help them in any way they can. It also makes up for some of the challenges, like long hours and a need to stay current on medical knowledge.

One of the most difficult things about becoming a family nurse practitioner is deciding what to do next. The job outlook is strong, with an estimated growth rate of 40% in the next ten years according to the BLS. However, there are lots of options available for family nurse practitioners to take their careers further and make an impact in the medical world.

Easing the transition from RN to NP

For many people, the transition from working as an RN to becoming a family nurse practitioner is an exciting one. It can also be a little bit scary and challenging, as there are significant responsibilities involved with the job.

Here are some tips that can help you ease the transition:

Find a mentor

Mentorship is an excellent way to learn the ropes from a specialist who has been in the field for many years. Taking a step back and learning from someone else in the same industry can be a great idea, as it helps to increase your knowledge of various practices and experiences.

Another way to ease the transition is by getting to know some family nurse practitioners in a variety of settings. For example, if you’re interested in working as a primary care provider, visiting multiple practices to observe and talk with NPs can help you determine the right role for yourself.

It’s not just family nurse practitioners who benefit from learning from others. Entering a mentorship with a nurse practitioner can help to improve your professionalism, as well as help you become the best possible healthcare provider for your patients.

You can find a mentor through:

  • Workplace program: Ask your employer if they have any programs that can help you learn more about the field. Many companies have clinical and management training programs that can provide you with the skills to be successful in this career.
  • Nursing organizations: A nursing organization is a great way to network with others in the industry. They typically have mentorship programs, as well as online forums where new nurses can ask questions and work with others.
  • Professional network: Other family nurse practitioners are a great resource to help you improve your knowledge and skills. Join a professional association or start your own if there aren’t any in your area.

Develop strong professional relationships

Another way to transition seamlessly into the family nurse practitioner role is by developing strong ties with your peers and coworkers. Your coworkers are often a good source of information and help, and they can be there to offer advice when you need it.

Networking can provide advice and guidance when it comes to many different aspects of the job. The family nurse practitioner is one that you can turn to for assistance with many things, such as answering questions about Medicare billing, dealing with difficult patients or helping you find your next position.

Maximize your prior training and experience

Family nurse practitioners with prior experience, such as working as an RN or LPN, are well-positioned to get started immediately in the family nurse practitioner role. This can help cut down on your transition time, as you won’t have to spend as much time learning about the many different aspects of the job. The more time you spend in the field before your transition, the better prepared you’ll be when you land your first job.

Before entering the field as a family nurse practitioner, it’s important to learn as much as possible about it so that you can be familiar with all the different practices and procedures required. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you get started on your path towards a life in health care.

Own your professional development

One of the best ways to enrich your knowledge is by taking advantage of ongoing professional development classes and resources. Many seminars and workshops can help you to keep your skills current and build a strong foundation for your family nurse practitioner role.

This will allow you to build a strong network with other professionals and learn how to do things that are unique to this career, such as billing Medicare. It will help you to get up and running quickly, on the path towards earning a living in this field.

One of the biggest challenges in being a family nurse practitioner is developing the necessary skills to do the job. Going back to school is a popular option, as it allows you to focus on your professional development and obtain some of the licenses and certifications you need. It is important to choose an accredited program that can help you achieve your goals.

Why transition from RN to family nurse practitioner?

Everyone has different goals, different experiences and different lifestyles. There are many different options available to those who are considering a transition from working as an RN to becoming a family nurse practitioner. For the most part, a lot of people choose to do this when they feel like they’ve reached their full potential as an RN and want to pursue other opportunities.

Here are several ways transitioning to the FNP career can help:

Career growth and opportunities

There are many different areas of practice in the family nurse practitioner role, and each of them can be very rewarding. For some individuals, it is an opportunity to enter a new area of healthcare that they’ve always wanted to try, such as mental health or small group services. For others, it’s about expanding on their current scope of practice so that it’s more integrated into their career.

The opportunities are almost limitless as long as you decide that the family nurse practitioner field can help you reach your goals in the medical field.

Better patient care

As a family nurse practitioner, you have more opportunities to build relationships with your patients. This creates a more positive environment for both of you and allows the patient to feel comfortable talking to you about any concerns they may have. Patients often enjoy having someone they trust who is there to provide them with the best care possible.

In addition to strengthening your relationships with your patients, you also have the opportunity to spend quality time building your relationships with their families. This can improve the quality of care that you provide, as the entire family is involved in treatment.

Job satisfaction

Many people find that they feel more fulfilled and satisfied with their career when they transition to working as a family nurse practitioner. This is because there are many more opportunities to help others than there are for an RN. The majority of your time as a family nurse practitioner will be spent directly helping your patients, which can create a great feeling of job satisfaction when you leave each day.

A lot of people find that they enjoy the family nurse practitioner career so much that they never want to transition back to working as an RN or other medical professional. You’ll want to consider this when you make your decision about whether you’d like to make a transition.

More flexibility and autonomy

In many ways, the family nurse practitioner role is a lot more flexible than other jobs. Most of your time will be spent providing direct care to your patients. You’ll spend time with their families as well, but different aspects of the job change depending on what you need to do for each patient.

As an FNP, you have more autonomy in many areas of the job than you would have as an RN. You can work in a variety of different settings and decide how to run your practice provided it’s safe, effective and up to government standards. You’ll also be able to choose how you want to provide care to your patients, whether that’s through Telehealth, On-Demand Health or in person.

Career advancement opportunities

After being a family nurse practitioner for a few years, there are many different opportunities for career advancement available. Even if you just have a couple of years of experience, there’s still a lot that you can do to grow in your role.

It’s important to look at your experience and the different roles that you’ve held before deciding where to go next in your career. There are several different ways in which professionals can move up and earn more money. Many family nurse practitioners choose to pursue this, as they want more opportunities for personal growth.

Transition to the FNP career seamlessly 

If you’re thinking about transitioning to this career, there are a lot of benefits to doing so. The family nurse practitioner field is growing in popularity, as it provides an opportunity for people who want more than just a nursing job. It allows you to combine the skills that you learned as an RN with your desire for personal growth and advancement in your career.

Are you looking for a convenient way to complete your family nurse practitioner coursework and develop the skills necessary to advance your career in health care? Well, online programs such as the one offered by Marymount University allow you to monitor your progress towards a family nurse practitioner degree from anywhere in the world.

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