Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are RNs who, under the supervision of a physician, assist with the primary and specialty health care needs of patients throughout the term of their lives. They assist in the diagnosis of medical conditions, they conduct exams and check-ups, make prognosis and even administer medication. As an advanced care specialist, nurse practitioners can legally work as the sole health care provider for their patients without direct supervision from an MD–and many do.
Regulation of nursing practices varies from state to state. In some states FNPs are allowed to work independently of doctors, while in other states they must work in collaboration with an MD. The degree to which FNPs work with doctors varies widely based on state regulation and preference.
Quite a bit of advanced education and clinical rotation is required to become an FNP. Much of what is studied in an nurse practitioner program leading to becoming an FNP includes coursework in pathophysiology; physical assessment; health promotion; pharmacology; epidemiology; statistics and research methods; health policy; role development and leadership; differential diagnosis and laboratory/radiography diagnostics; and acute and chronic disease management.
In the U.S. there are various paths to becoming an FNP. Usually a nurse will first earn a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree followed by a 2- to 3-year Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a 2-year Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. While requirements vary, most states in the U.S. now require an RN to have completed at least a master’s degree in nursing before they can become an FNP, and its very likely that in the future a DNP degree will be the minimum qualification to becoming an FNP.
Below you’ll find a list of the top 10 family nurse practitioner colleges and universities in the United States.