Current registered nurses (RNs) can earn an online master’s degree in family nurse practitioner to take their vocational duties to the next level. Family nurse practitioners serve the health needs specific to families and this degree will expand the knowledge base of RNs to adequately prepare them for the change in career duties, such as health promotion and illness prevention, risk detection, and management of chronic and acute illnesses. Family nurse practitioner degrees are only offered at the master’s level, but can be taken completely online for the convenience of the student. Having an advanced degree in this subject can be hugely advantageous to registered nurses ready to pursue greater heights and challenges within their career.
Why a Masters Degree?
The family nurse practitioner (FNP) position is one of four different types of advanced practice registered nursing careers within the medical field requiring candidates to have extensive experience or knowledge in a particular aspect of specialized health care. Although it is possible to get a job in this position based on experience alone, it can greatly accelerate the process for a candidate to have a degree specifically relevant to the position. Since FNP programs are not available at the undergraduate level, graduate programs in nursing with this concentration are the only accredited programs that will provide students with educational preparation for entry into the career. For the medical professional seeking entry to the FNP career, a master’s degree requires minimal investment for maximum return. Doctoral programs with this specialization are typically only obtained if a student desires to teach or conduct research within the career, not to enter the profession.
Getting Into a Master’s Degree Program
Admission to this kind of master’s program is typically determined on the basis of academic background, clinical experience, and leadership abilities. Although the exact requirements vary by each institution, the following requirements are common of most family nurse practitioner programs at the master’s level:
- Official transcripts showing completion of bachelor’s degree program and any additional college course work
- Official scores from the GRE test
- Professional resume including record of past clinical experience
- Proof of current Registered Nurse licensure
Inside a Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Degree Program
Depending on the particular program and the pace of the student, the Master of Science in nursing (MSN) with a family nurse practitioner emphasis can last from 18 to 24 months. Online family nurse practitioner masters degrees allow the student to conduct the majority of their program through web-based communication and interaction. As part of the program, students will typically participate in clinical experiences at sites in partnership with the institution providing the degree. This ensures that even distance learners are equipped with the skills associated with this career, and gives them the opportunity to gain experience in their field while studying.
Online family nurse practitioner degrees cover the same topics as traditional programs, including primary care and clinical judgment skills. Students will be introduced to the latest technology, discoveries, information, and medical practices related to family health care, and will develop an aptitude for staying abreast of those changes during their career. The curriculum essentially expounds on principles and information learned in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, but studying concepts at a more advanced level and providing opportunities for extensive research.
What’s Next for family Nurse Practitioner Masters Holders?
With a family nurse practitioner master’s degree, a student will be qualified to apply for positions in the field, but can also pursue alternative careers as advanced practice registered nurses. Because the degree focuses on general family health, students could also feasibly pursue a career as a clinical nurse specialist, providing health care to adults or children. With the right courses included in the program, students can also pursue career opportunities as nurse anesthetists and nurse-midwives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook from 2010-2020 is an expected increase of 26% for registered nurses.
If a graduate of a family nurse practitioner master’s degree desires to study the field even further, they may choose to obtain a post-master’s certificate in family nurse practitioner or a doctorate of nursing with a family nurse practitioner concentration. These programs are research-intensive and typically intended to prepare students for a career in research related to the field or to teach the subject to other students. These higher education programs are limited in availability to distance learners however, and in the rare case that a program contains such a study method, it is usually restricted to individual courses.