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Reasons to Become a Nurse Practitioner

By lms4692 Oct 20, 2012 1865 Words
101 Reasons to Become a Family Care Nurse Practitioner

Family Care Nurse Practitioners are advanced practice nurses with a specialty in family care. They deal with patients of all ages, and this includes treating, diagnosing, counseling, and teaching them. This paper will discuss the degree necessary for the position, experience needed to obtain the position, professional associations, and professional journals. It will also state the work environment, daily activities, salary, demands, and my personal view of the career. Lastly, it will include three articles from health journals that are associated with a Family Care Nurse Practitioner.

General Nurse Practitioners first came about following World War II in response to a shortage of physicians. The first Nurse Practitioner program was started at Duke University in 1965 (Strekley, 2008). Duke University’s program focused on teaching the nurses’ health maintenance and illness prevention. A study carried out by Congress in 1986 stated that “Within their areas of competence, Nurse Practitioners were able to provide care whose quality is to that of care provided by physicians. In preventable care and communication with patients, Nurse Practitioner’s were able to outperform doctors” (Strekley, 2008).

Today, general Nurse Practitioners are now referred to as Family Care Nurse Practitioners. These practitioners are usually based out of health clinics or doctor’s offices (Johnson&Johnson, 2009). They provide care to people of all ages, assessing, diagnosing, and treating common illnesses and injuries. The interactions Family Care Nurse Practitioners have with their patients put a great emphasis on teaching and maintaining good health (Strekley, 2008). They must be able to recognize both the social and emotional aspects of health care in addition to the other physical factors (Goolsby, EdD, MSN, ANP, FAANP, 2009). Nurse Practitioners are one of four classifications of advanced practice nurses. Being a Nurse Practitioner enables one to carry out many of the responsibilities that are traditionally handled by physicians (Strekley, 2008). Every state, with the exception of Georgia, allows Family Care Nurse Practitioners to function independently without a physician, but a physicians signature is sometimes required to validate the prescription (Goolsby, EdD, MSN, ANP, FAANP, 2009). In order to become a Family Care Nurse Practitioner, one would first become a Registered Nurse. There are several ways to obtain a Registered Nursing degree. One may earn an Associate’s degree, diploma, or a Bachelors degree of Nursing. Once the Registered Nursing degree is completed, it is then recommended that one work in the clinical field for at least a year before going back to earn a Master’s degree (Walsh, 2004). There are a couple of different routes to earn your Master’s degree. One may go straight from a Registered Nursing degree to a Master’s degree. These are available by combining 1 year of an accelerated BSN program with 2 years of graduate study. In 2006, there were 149 RN-to-MSN programs (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1). The other option is to go from a Registered Nursing degree, then earn a Bachelor’s in Nursing, and then a Masters degree in Nursing. In 2006, there were 629 RN-to-BSN programs in the United States (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1). The Master’s Program for Family Care Nurse Practitioners last one to two years and provides advanced study in diagnostic skills, health assessment, pharmacology, clinical management, and research skills. The program focuses on general work in the beginning, and then focuses on specific Nurse Practitioner specialties later on in the program (Walsh, 2004). National certification is not required by all states, but it is highly recommended. Certifications are offered by the American Nurses Association or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (Goolsby, EdD, MSN, ANP, FAANP, 2009). Certification typically involves passing a written exam, and recertification includes completing certain amounts of continuing education. In order to be a nurse, all states require at least a state license to practice. To earn a license, all graduates of an approved nursing school must pass a national exam called the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) (, 1).

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners is a professional association that was developed specifically for Nurse Practitioners. The website provides quality information on nursing credentials, healthcare issues, research, conferences, publications, resources, and different certifications. They hold annual conferences to keep everyone up to date with any changes or topics that are currently happening. Their contact information is PO Box 12846, Austin, Texas 78711. The phone number is (512)-442-4262, and their email address is To visit their website, go to (Goolsby, EdD, MSN, ANP, FAANP, 2009).

The National Alliance of Nurse Practitioners is a second professional association also developed specifically for Nurse Practitioners. This site and association focuses on nursing careers and credentials, along with common health care topics. Their contact information is PO Box 40326, Washington DC 20016, and their phone number is (202)-675-6350 (Chovan, J. PhD,CNP, 1).

There are several conferences held each year specifically for the continuing education of Family Care Nurse Practitioners. One is the “Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Care” conference. This conference occurs every September in Washington DC. Another popular conference is the “National Conference for Nurse Practitioners.” This occurs from April 25th through April 29th each year in Boston, Massachusetts (Lippincott, Williams, Wilkins, 2009).

A famous nurse that obtained a Master’s degree in nursing is Virginia Avenel Henderson (1897-1996.) Henderson graduated in 1921 from the Army School of Nursing in Washington DC. She then went to Columbia University and earned her Master’s in nursing education. She was an expert in nursing theory and was famous for defining nursing as a responsibility to aid people, whether sick or not, and help them towards a better and healthy recovery (Herbert, 2003).

The work environment for a Family Care Nurse Practitioner is typically a doctor’s office setting. They may occasionally work in the outpatient are of a hospital or even a health clinic. This differs from other types of specialized Nurse Practitioners because most others tend to work in a hospital setting. The hours are typically the same as an average doctor’s office, usually around forty to fifty hours a week. They can sometimes tend to be long and inconvenient, but not as bad as if they were in a hospital setting (Johnson&Johnson, 2009).

The daily functions of a Family Care Nurse Practitioner include providing care to people of all ages. They diagnose, treat, prevent, and maintain quality health care for any patient (Strekley, 2009). Their salary depends on location. Practitioners based out of larger cities typically make more. The average national salary according to is $95,000. The benefits of this career may vary by the employer. Typically they receive health insurance, paid vacation, retirement plans, sick days, and continuing education opportunities.

A large reason Registered Nurses continue their education is for their greater deal of autonomy. Linda Flanigan, a writer for the American Academy of Family Practitioners wrote a story in regards to a higher sense of autonomy. “One year ago last month, Columbia Advanced Practice Nurse Associates (CAPNA) opened an office in an upscale neighborhood in midtown Manhattan. In April, 60 Minutes profiled the independent nurse practitioner group, which is led by Mary O'Neil Mundinger, DrPH, RN, Dean of the Columbia University School of Nursing. In a segment titled "The Nurse Will See You Now," the show's host Morley Safer described the nurse practitioner as "a highly trained professional who is providing an alternative to the expensive primary care physician -- some say a better alternative." One of CAPNA's practitioners, Edwidge Jourdain Thomas, MS, ANP, reinforced this theme by declaring, "We can do anything that a primary care physician can do." She then goes on to add, “To obtain the most autonomous practice possible, nurse practitioners have pushed to remove requirements for physician supervision and mandatory collaboration from nurse practice acts. To date, twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have removed these statutory requirements (Flanagan, L. 2008). Registered Nurses continue their education so that they have a greater sense of autonomy.

There are many rewards specific to being a Family Care Nurse Practitioner. An article titled, “Here, There, and Everywhere,” from the magazine Nurse Week gives a perfect example of the rewards of becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Graduate students from Baylor University were sent over to a small village in Africa to assist the underprivileged that were unable to receive health care. The nurses treated many children that would have died if not treated effectively. That is a huge reward in my personal opinion in becoming a Nurse Practitioner. It is such a gift to be able to heal someone and put a smile on their face. Another reward is the opportunity to take care of not just one generation, but many generations. Being a Family Care Nurse Practitioner allows them to take care of all ages, ranging from children to the elderly. There is an opportunity to form a wonderful and trusting relationship between the patient and nurse. They are also able to see patients for an extended period of time. They are able to learn the patient’s full history, and continue to work with them for a lifetime (Childers, L. 2003).

In order to be a successful Family Care Nurse Practitioner, there are many attributes one must prevail. The most important factor is being able to interact with people. Every single day will be different interactions with different kinds of people. One must also have great communication skills, patience, flexibility, and a positive attitude. They make differences in lives’ every day, so excellent judgment skills are also needed. Since part of the job description involves health maintenance and prevention, they also must be able to teach and counsel patients.

Family Care Nurse Practitioners collaborate very closely with Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Medical Assistants, Physicians, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. It all depends where the Practitioner is employed. Physicians work extremely close with them, verifying prescriptions and confirming any condition when needed.

Enclosed are three articles that are associated with Family Care Nurse Practitioners. The first discusses the collaboration between Family Care Nurse Practitioners and Physicians. (Bailey, 2006). The second article actually opposes the first. It speaks about the interference of physicians and Nurse Practitioners working together. Lastly, a third article describes the relationship between patients’ expectations and nurses’ performance.

In conclusion, Family Care Nurse Practitioners are very privileged to have the opportunity with all ranges of people. They have a great sense of autonomy even though they may work with physicians. There are many wonderful opportunities in this field, and the daily functions and work environment are never boring. Anyone who loves working with and meeting new people, along with helping others should definitely look into this career.

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