FNP Certification and Certificate Programs

An advanced nursing degree, among other requirements which vary by state, qualifies an individual to participate in a family nurse practitioner (FNP) certification program.

Essential Information

An FNP provides primary healthcare to individuals and families, often in a hospital or outpatient primary care clinic. In most states, an FNP candidate must be a registered nurse with an advanced nursing degree, a family practitioner certificate, and CPR certification before becoming an FNP. Certification requirements can vary greatly by state, as can the duties that FNPs are allowed to perform.

These post-master's certificate programs combine the skills that students learned in nursing school with a focus on the individualized needs of specific patient groups divided into several categories, including age, health problem and care type. These programs also delve deeper into other medical areas, such as diagnostic skills, disease research and prescription medications.

Certificate Programs for Family Nurse Practitioners

Students learn how to provide a wide variety of medical services, which may include critical care, chronic disease care, diagnostic research, home healthcare and medication prescription. They may also learn to provide many of the same services as primary care physicians. These include diagnosing medical conditions, prescribing treatment plans and managing community outreach programs. Coursework varies according to individual state requirements; however, most programs focus heavily on primary care with individualized attention to specific healthcare groups, such as children, adolescents and senior citizens. Classes may cover:

  • Advanced primary care
  • Clinical care assessment
  • Pediatric care
  • Reproductive health
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Diagnostic reasoning

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Job prospects for all nurse practitioners (NPs), including FNPs, are expected to increase by 31% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics . The overall aging of the population and the lack of primary healthcare resources in rural areas combine to create a growing need for NPs.

Salaries for NPs and FNPs can vary depending on the region and type of employer; urban areas and hospitals typically pay more, while clinics in rural areas tend to pay less. According to the BLS, the mean salary in 2015 for all NPs was $101,260.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

After completing a nurse practitioner program, students are eligible to take the national certification test for nurse practitioners, which is available through a few accredited national agencies, including the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. Some states, such as New York, require NPs to apply for a certificate to practice in their specialty area as well.

Family nurse practitioners may also continue their education to specialize in multiple types of family care, such as pediatrics, women's health and geriatrics. Such specialization requires additional college-level coursework in the specific field and students may face additional health board testing depending on state requirements.

Those who meet all the requirements, including an advanced nursing degree, may enroll in an FNP post-master's certification program. They are then eligible to become nationally certified and may even consider continuing their education to focus on more specialized areas of medicine.

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