Job Description of a Family Nurse Practitioner

In some states, family nurse practitioners practice independently of a physician.
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A family nurse practitioner is an expert in providing health care to a wide range of individuals in a variety of inpatient and outpatient environments. She also provides education and support to help individuals make better decisions about their lifestyle options and health care. Rather than focus exclusively on reactive treatments, a family nurse practitioner also focuses on preventive services, wellness initiatives and health promotion.

Skill Set

A family nurse practitioner must have a diverse skill set to do her job effectively. She needs astute decision-making skills, the ability to monitor and manage patient care and the ability to refer and admit patients into health care facilities. A family nurse practitioner also maintains networking relationships with other practitioners in the field and collaborates with physicians and public health agencies to maximize positive health care outcomes.

Primary Responsibilities

The primary responsibility of a family nurse practitioner is to help patients manage their conditions. Since her scope of practice ranges from infant to elderly, she should be knowledgeable on a wide array of treatment and diagnoses for a variety of illnesses. Family nurse practitioners also perform physical examinations, minor surgeries and diagnostic tests. In some instances, depending on the state, she may prescribe pharmacologic treatments to patients.

Secondary Tasks

As with many healthcare positions, a family nurse practitioner's tasks change on a daily basis. In addition to treating patients, she often educates them on preventive care to reduce the likelihood of future illness. In addition, she counsels patients on prenatal care and helps them understand their medical histories. Not all tasks of a family nurse practitioner are set in stone. They change on a daily basis as a result of patient load, patient case mix and medical emergencies.

Background Data

A family nurse practitioner needs extensive academic and professional training to practice. She is a registered nurse who has typically completed an advanced degree, usually at the graduate level. Some states allow certification and hands-on training in lieu of an advanced degree. However, as the demand for family nurse practitioners continues to increase, the educational and training requirements for practice are expected to increase as well.

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