When you have obtained your registered nursing degree, you may already be thinking about the next steps in your career. Perhaps you want to train in a subspecialty, such as a psychiatric nurse or maybe even a pediatric nurse?
However, for most nurses, their career advancement revolves around getting a more senior position in the nursing profession, with more nurses than ever before opting to train as family nurse practitioners. This is a role that will enable you to open your clinical practice if you wish to or can even lead you to become a nurse educator or lead you into administrative nursing positions.
However, you may be curious as to what the responsibilities of a family nurse practitioner are and if they differ from that of a registered nurse. In this guide, some of the core responsibilities of an FNP will be explored, so you can decide if this is a career you wish to pursue.
Who Are Nurse Practitioners?
A nurse practitioner or a family nurse practitioner is a senior nursing role, which requires you to have a master’s degree from an accredited nursing program. You will already be a registered nurse in the state where you work, and you will need to have experience providing primary care as a registered nurse, along with APN authorization.
The academics can sound intimidating and like a lot to take on, but don’t worry. If you are a registered nurse looking for a way to become a nurse practitioner, you can apply for an online FNP degree from University of Indianapolis, which will allow you the flexibility to pursue this additional training alongside any current nursing roles you are performing.
What Are They Responsible For?
One of the core differences between a family nurse practitioner and a registered nurse is the degree of responsibility that the former has. Here are some of the things you can expect to be responsible for when you are training or have trained as a family nurse practitioner in the United States.
Recording Patient Notes
This is no different from this role when you are a registered nurse. However, you also have to assess patient notes and update them accordingly. You will also need to perform audits on patient notes and assess if the nurses under your charge are keeping patients’ notes up to date and recorded correctly.
Creating Care Plans
Care plans are an essential part of recovery for most patients who have been in hospital and as a family nurse practitioner, you will be expected to know how to devise care plans and ensure that they are followed through. You may even need to contribute to existing care plans which are set down by other professionals in the medical setting. This means you will need to know what would be expected of somebody recovering from a wider range of ailments than you would have experienced working as a registered nurse, especially if you are operating out of a doctor’s surgery where there is a wider range of medical issues to manage each day.
You will also need to observe the patients under your care and alter their care plans as needed to ensure that the best medical outcomes are met.
In some states, registered nurses can order medical tests. However, as a family nurse practitioner, this will be a part of your role; to order or administer diagnostic tests as well as to analyze the results. This will mean that your skills in diagnostic medicine need to be up to scratch and you must be familiar with a wider range of illnesses and the medical tests required to diagnose them accurately.
Diagnostics is a hard area, and as a family nurse practitioner, you will be required to recognize not only common presentations of ailments, but you will be expected to know a broader range of conditions as well, to ensure that the patients under your care or receiving the best medical advice.
The diagnostics required as a family nurse practitioner will vary and you may need to seek consultations from doctors or other nurses to ensure that you all agree on the diagnostic results for your patients.
Monitoring Medical Equipment
This is one of the lesser-known responsibilities of a family nurse practitioner and you will need to be able to perform it at least once a week. Monitoring the medical equipment that you or the other nurses under your charge use will ensure that the equipment is working correctly, that is giving accurate recordings, and that the patients’ health is not being damaged by malfunctioning equipment. It will also be your responsibility to order new medical equipment should some pieces fail, as well as to be able to test newer forms of medical devices that arrive on your ward. So, a bit of techy knowledge can go a long way in this role.
Of course, one of the lead roles in being a family nurse practitioner will be holding consultations with patients and their families. This will require you to scrub up on your bedside manner, as well as practice professional interactions with your patients. Depending on where you are working, you may be required to engage more with patients or their families in consultations and you need to be able to explain any health-related terminology to them, as well as any tests that you are ordering.
Depending on your level of knowledge and training, you may be able to prescribe certain medications depending on the state you operate in. However, when a patient is under your care as a family nurse practitioner, you will be expected to administer certain medications accurately. This will mean extensive knowledge in pharmacology, as well as being able to determine the safety of certain medications for patients based on their current health conditions, and any other medications that they are currently taking.
Following on from consulting with patients and their families is the ability to train patients and their loved ones in how to prevent illnesses and injury, as well as how to manage chronic conditions such as arthritis or even mental health issues. This will potentially lead you to refer patients on to secondary professionals if they are struggling to maintain their health adequately.