How to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner

By Jack Owens

Not scientifically reviewed by Dr. Eeks

Nurses are the healthcare professionals who show up daily to care for patients and provide comfort and support. Those who choose to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) have an added layer of responsibility, as they must manage patients’ health-related needs while considering the impact of family dynamics on overall health. You get to do what you like with this career while helping people get well and stay healthy. Here is what you need to know about becoming a family nurse practitioner.

1.    Understand Your Future Role

FNPs are advanced practice registered nurses with a master’s degree or higher in nursing. They provide primary and specialty care services to all family members, from newborns to elderly people.

FNPs can diagnose and treat health conditions, order lab tests, prescribe medications, offer patient education, conduct physical exams, and more. They may work in various settings, such as primary care clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and private practices. You should understand the pressure of the position and how you can care for yourself as a healthcare professional.

2.    Become a Registered Nurse

The first step in becoming a family nurse practitioner is to become a registered nurse. This requires getting an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in nursing and completing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). After passing the exam, you will be eligible for licensure as a registered nurse in your state. Becoming a registered nurse is relatively easy. It requires dedication and hard work, but the investment is worth it. You will gain valuable experience and knowledge that will prepare you to become an FNP.

3.    Begin Your Master’s Degree in Nursing

Once you have become a registered nurse, you can begin your master’s degree in nursing. There are many different types of master’s degrees available for FNPs, such as the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and even a Ph.D. Most programs include courses on advanced physiology and pharmacology, health assessment, family dynamics, research methods, and more. In addition to coursework, you may also be required to complete clinical hours to gain hands-on experience.

An online FNP program may also be available if you want to complete your studies from home. It is an excellent option if you need to work while completing your degree. You don’t necessarily have to pursue an FNP degree right away. You may decide to first pursue a post-master’s certificate in nursing or complete a specialized program, such as the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

4.    Earn Your FNP Credential

You must pass the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certification exam to become a board-certified family nurse practitioner. Then you will be eligible for state licensure, which allows you to practice independently in most states.

Depending on your location, you may need to get a license from a different governing body, such as the Board of Nursing or the Board of Medicine. With these, you can diagnose and treat patients, order lab tests, and prescribe medications.


Becoming a family nurse practitioner is a rewarding journey. You will gain valuable experience and knowledge that will help you care for patients in the best way possible. It takes dedication, hard work, and commitment, but with the right education and training, you can make a difference in the lives of your patients and their families.


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