What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Do?

Updated on November 25, 2022

Family nurse practitioners often serve as primary care providers on account of their vast knowledge and thorough approach to care. There are many different specialties within nursing, so here is a look at what makes an FNP different and what a typical day on the job entails. 

Who is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

The ever-growing need for manpower in the healthcare sector has led many nurses to branch into various fields to serve patients better. FNPs are making waves today because they cater to patients of all ages, including infants, children, teenagers, young adults, middle-aged adults and seniors. Many nurses choose the FNP path because they wish to establish a long-term relationship with patients. 

What does a Family Nurse Practitioner do?

FNPs have lots of responsibilities depending on their authority and employer. These experts can work in school clinics, hospitals, physician’s offices, urgent care centers, and private practices.

Their roles include:

  • Ordering diagnostic tests and evaluating the results to determine the cause of the health issue
  • Recording patients’ medical histories and maintaining records on symptoms, prescribed medications and treatment
  • Performing regular physical examinations 
  • Making referrals to physicians or other departments
  • Dispensing and prescribing medications
  • Providing primary healthcare services, including immunizations and screening tests

How to become a Family Nurse Practitioner

Becoming a family nurse practitioner requires careful study. Technology has made it possible for prospective FNPs to acquire a degree from the comfort of their home. If you are considering choosing a career as an FNP, here is a look at the steps you must take.

Educational requirements

To qualify as an FNP, you need an undergraduate degree in nursing. A bachelor’s or associate’s degree qualifies you for a master’s program in the field. After the first degree, you can take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse. While some nurses practice for several years before advancing their career, others go straight into higher education. 

A DNP-FNP program from an accredited institution such as Walsh University helps you develop clinical and leadership skills on a more professional scale. Their program is fully online, which means you can study in your free time while working or obtaining experience in the field. It also prepares you to deliver evidence-based care that focuses on the health needs of unique populations. 

Getting a degree online is the ideal choice for students who want to complete their coursework from the convenience of their homes while gathering experiences offline. There are many skills an FNP acquires in their studies to help them work with their colleagues and patients. Here is a look at some of the skills you can expect to develop.

Excellent communication skills

FNPs cater to patients of all ages and must devise the best means of communicating with them for optimal results. Children and infants do not need logical explanations for their illnesses because they may not understand. However, they feel better when their nurse assures them that they’ll be fine. 

Adults, on the other hand, need more detailed explanations. They want to know what is happening and why they cannot be discharged yet. A family nurse communicates the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment to patients to help them feel at ease. They also ensure that these patients trust and communicate with them if they face any challenges.


An important feature of family nurses is that they are leaders. An FNP collaborates with other healthcare teams, policymakers, the community and patients to provide the best medical services possible. When a family nurse steps into a ward, the environment changes because they take the lead. The opportunity to manage others is one of many reasons to pursue a master’s degree.

Analytical skills

A family nurse practitioner is a critical thinker. They are not one to jump into any problem and start solving it without weighing the pros and cons. Their job requires them to think critically before solving complex problems. After objectively analyzing information related to patients’ conditions, they form the best judgment regarding diagnosis and treatment. 

A day in the life of a Family Nurse Practitioner 

Family Nurse Practitioners spend their days improving patients’ lives and working to prevent diseases. Their working hours vary depending on the location, but they work shifts to allow for flexibility. Many FNPs begin their day with administrative duties that prepare them for the rest of the day. They also review the patients’ records and ensure their tools are in good condition. 

After checking tools and records, the nurse will see dozens of patients. They are often encouraged to have a schedule to help plan their day. 

The daily roles of a family nursing practitioner include: 

  • Assessing patients’ current conditions and identifying other issues they might have 
  • Making diagnoses – With their experience and education, they can often determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms
  • Coordinating treatment plans – After diagnosing, they determine the best treatment method, depending on the patient’s age and lifestyle
  • Providing instruction – These experts also train new nurses by educating them on what to do and answering their questions
  • Performing administrative duties – FNPs may organize records, file patient information, create staff schedules, or order new supplies for their facility. 


Earning an FNP degree is an excellent way to advance your career. If you are passionate about building relationships with your patients inside and outside of the hospital, this career path could be perfect for you.

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