Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) work with patients of diverse ages, from children to the elderly. They provide therapeutic and educational services at doctors' offices, hospitals and community health clinics. Nurses who already hold master's degrees can pursue FNP certificates through a number of online certificate programs.
An FNP certificate program teaches nurses to provide a broad spectrum of care for children, adults and elderly patients. Extensive clinical hours are required and run concurrently with the online courses, so students get hands-on practice as they are studying.
These FNP post-master's certificate programs qualify nurses to take the national certification exam for FNPs. After passing the exam, they must meet continuing education requirements to maintain the certification.
Post-Master's FNP Certificate
Through a post-master's FNP certificate program, nurses who are already hold master's degrees learn how to support the family unit through preventative care, disease or disorder treatment and comprehensive health education. The curriculum covers medical care for children, adults and senior citizens, with special classes on mental health, reproductive health and end-of-life care. In addition to medicine and science, courses deal with communication techniques and teaching strategies.
Information and Requirements
Many universities offer FNP certificate programs entirely through distance learning. Theoretical coursework can be completed online, but students may be required to complete clinical experiences at health care facilities near their homes. Most programs can be completed in 1-2 years of part-time study.
Students watch and listen to recorded lectures online, use textbooks for supplementary reading and submit assignments through an online course management system. Microphones and webcams may be required for participation in conferences with instructors and fellow students.
Most FNP courses are centered around specific types of medical treatment, with secondary emphasis on patient communication.
Nurses' study advanced topics in treating diseases and disorders by means of drugs. They consider the differing effects of medications on children versus adults and learn how to maintain treatment throughout the human life cycle.
Family Mental Health
Students consider environmental, genetic and economic factors that contribute to mental health disorders. They learn about pharmaceutical, therapeutic and behavioral ways of addressing mental health problems. Courses focus heavily on effective communication and sensitively when dealing with patients and their families.
Students learn to provide routine and special-needs care to expectant families, pregnant women, infants and young children. In addition to specific medical topics, the social and emotional aspects of childbearing and child rearing are addressed.
Gerontology courses address the health needs of older adults, including the treatment of chronic and acute illnesses. Students learn about the considerations associated with patient living situations and family environments.
Job opportunities and salary levels for family nurse practitioners vary widely by geographic location. In general, nurses who are willing to travel to rural and underserved areas can expect excellent job prospects. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $98,190. Most nurses work in physicians' offices, hospitals or outpatient care facilities, though some also pursue opportunities in medical publishing or medical supplies.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Registered Nurses (RNs) who have completed accredited FNP certificate programs are eligible to apply for the Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNC-BC) designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Applicants must pass a written exam on family nursing practices. Certification must be renewed every five years.
The terminal degree for nurse practitioners is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). DNP programs prepare nurses to perform research and guide policy-making decisions while maintaining their practices as working nurses. Some universities offer DNP programs entirely online; others maintain hybrid programs that require students to visit campus occasionally over the course of their studies.
Online FNP certificates offer nurses who already have a master's degree training in topics like advanced pharmacology, family mental health, childbearing and gerontology, so that they can earn certification as FNPs and provide health care services to all members of a family.