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FNP vs NP: What’s Right for Me?

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As the patient population in the United States continues to expand, there is an increased need for nursing specialists. Therefore nursing professionals face increased pressure to make a critical career choice: FNP vs NP. While family nurse practitioners are a category of nurse practitioners, FNPs arguably have the most flexible NP specialization. Therefore, the choice of FNP vs NP with a different focus is a choice that is best decided after an individual has identified whether they would prefer treating a diverse group of patients of varying genders across the lifespan or if they would prefer to solely treat a less broad classification of patients.

Providing Primary Care to Babies, Toddlers, Adolescents, and Teens

Children are very susceptible to illness, especially at younger ages. Therefore, family or pediatric nurse practitioners are often tasked with educating parents on how they can best maintain the overall well-being of their children. To accomplish this, the parents must be up to date on the latest advancements in mental and physical health assessments/interventions for children. By incorporating advanced health care knowledge into the general checkups nurses will likely perform daily, they can better prescribe the most effective treatment plans.
Though a nurse practitioner may have knowledge of the actions young people can take to improve their health, they will also need to be adept at educating patients to ensure that they understand how to improve their children’s health. In this patient population, nurse practitioners should be prepared to regularly administer vaccinations, provide neonatal care to newborns, perform and interpret medical tests, and counsel young people on how to effectively manage their own health.[4]

Preventing and Treating Women’s Health Issues

Women face many unique health concerns, often requiring intervention by an obstetrics and gynecology specialist. Obstetrics and gynecology nurse practitioners are women’s health nurse practitioners or family nurse practitioners who understand female anatomy, allowing them to treat the health conditions that come with circumstances such as high-risk pregnancies, puberty, menopause, and infertility.

Properly qualified obstetrics and gynecology nurse practitioners will likely find themselves treating patients in hospitals, OB-GYN clinics, private health clinics, family planning clinics, women’s health offices, or prenatal clinics. In these different facilities, the patient populations may be seeking a variety of services. While older patients may be seeking advice for complications related to menopause or infertility, younger patients may reach out to their family nurse practitioners for counseling about contraception or immunizations.

Tending to Patients with Acute Medical Conditions

Acute medical conditions often require immediate attention from a trained health care professional, but physicians are often too overwhelmed with patients to tend to every single one. Therefore, family nurse practitioners are trusted with the important role of tending to the immediate needs of patients suffering from acute conditions, such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, bone injuries, and viral or bacterial infections. While family nurse practitioners may care for acutely ill patients across all stages of life, nurses can also choose to specialize in acute pediatrics or gerontology to advance their expertise in treating a specific demographic.

Caring for Patients with Chronic Health Conditions

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about half of all adults in America—117 million people—had at least one chronic health condition in 2012. Many of these conditions are rooted in a lack of education on preventive health care. For instance, the CDC also found that 36 percent of adults (84 million people) were obese in a study performed between 2011 and 2014.[3]

Obese people are far more susceptible to developing more chronic health conditions, so nurse practitioners must make it their objective to educate their patients on better nutritional habits. Beyond educating their patients on better health habits, nurse practitioners also prescribe medications to manage chronic conditions across the life span and offer treatments to patients when necessary.[5]

Comforting Elderly or Handicapped Patients

The health care needs of elderly patients often differ from those of younger patients. With geriatric patients, chronic conditions are quite common, as their bodies have likely become weaker with old age. This means that, in some cases, nurse practitioners must provide elderly patients and patients with disabilities with part-time or full-time in-home care if their conditions have rendered them unable to care for themselves. If they are working with patients whose needs are not that extensive, nurse practitioners will instead find themselves in clinical environments, offering guidance to patients by modifying their medications and prescribing therapy to patients with physical disabilities.[5]

The number of health care resources that are currently available in the United States simply cannot meet the high demands of the growing patient population. To address this concern, family nurse practitioners are being positioned as primary care providers who can collaborate with physicians to reduce the patient population through preventive health care education and effective treatment strategies. With enough experience, and the knowledge gained through obtaining a master of science in nursing, certified family nurse practitioners can branch out into the medical fields of their choice, allowing them a fulfilling opportunity to provide care to the patients who concern them the most.

Learn More

Across the country, a national shortage of primary care providers has set the stage for RNs to advance. As more states certify nurse practitioners as primary care providers, you can pursue a new avenue of nursing to fill meaningful voids in today’s health systems. At Regis College, you can earn an online post-master’s certificate to not just prepare for advancement in nursing, but to also expand services as a primary care provider.