Several studies have found that patients are happier when their primary care is delivered by a nurse practitioner than a doctor. They report higher levels of satisfaction with the amount of time they spend with their care provider; the amount of information that is provided about their condition, its causes and treatment; and the follow-up they receive, either after they leave the ER or when they are discharged from the hospital.
Reviews have also shown that nurse-led primary care often leads to fewer deaths among certain patient groups, although there are no conclusive studies that show why or how this happens.
The reliance on nurses in providing basic care to the American population is changing healthcare in America. In many areas where there aren’t enough doctors to cater to patients, Family nurse practitioners have stepped in to fill the gaps, and patients are happy with the care they are getting.
This is great news for anyone who is considering a career as a family nurse practitioner (FNP). The demand for these professionals continues to grow, and their training and education are evolving to ensure they can provide comprehensive primary care to different patient groups.
There are several ways you can become a family nurse practitioner, including enrolling in an online MSN-FNP program from the University of Indianapolis. This is a master’s course that prepares students to deliver high-quality care to patients of all ages. Students cover topics like diagnostics and procedures in primary care, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced practice across the human lifespan.
By the time they complete their course, students can conduct comprehensive examinations and diagnoses of patients of all ages. They learn the parameters that are used to assess health, as well as health and wellness screening. They learn how to develop treatment plans, and how to use clinical data and diagnostic information to provide treatment and follow-up to make sure that patients are healing as they should.
These are the broad outlines of what family nurse practitioners learn when they enroll in an online MSN-FNP program. However, if you are planning to go into the profession, it is important to know what training and skills these nurses receive to deal with people of all ages, from newborn babies to seniors.
How are FNPs trained to care for pregnant women and infants?
Family nurse practitioners play a crucial role in caring for pregnant mothers, new mothers and their infants. Many are involved right from the moment a pregnant woman visits a health facility, taking care of them throughout the pregnancy, seeing them through the birth, and offering post-natal care and advice.
During their training, FNPs are taught how to perform various duties related to pregnancy care, childbirth, infant care and how to care for new mothers:
- They learn how to conduct pregnancy tests and examine pregnant mothers to ensure they are healthy and meeting the necessary markers. They also learn how to advise pregnant women to facilitate health and wellness from conception to birth.
- FNPs are taught how to assist doctors during childbirth, and many of them end up training to become midwives so they can conduct the procedure themselves.
- Nurse practitioners learn how to care for babies from birth. They can conduct the various tests that are needed at this age, and they also learn how to check for all markers for normal childbirth for both mother and baby.
- They learn about the different vaccines that are needed in the early stages of life as well as how to administer them and follow up to ensure there aren’t any adverse reactions.
- FNPs learn how to counsel new mothers about how to cope with childbirth, and how to take care of themselves and their babies. They are on the lookout for signs of post-partum depression and, should they notice it, they are trained in the right steps to take to help both mother and baby.
How are FNPs trained to care for toddlers and small children?
At this stage of development, the most important thing is to make sure that the child is meeting the required developmental markers, and FNPs are trained to check for all of them.
They learn how to make sure that the child can see and hear, that their reaction to different stimuli is within the normal range, and that they meet the required weight and height markers.
They talk to the parents about good nutrition and hygiene and, if they have any particular concerns about the child, they discuss it and come up with a way forward.
FNPs are also taught to recognize children who are in trouble, either because the parents cannot cope, or because they are not providing the right kind of care. In such cases, nurses are trained on the right procedure to follow to make sure both the child and the parents get the necessary assistance.
If the FNP needs to escalate a case either to a doctor or a different higher authority, they are taught about the steps they ought to take.
How are FNPs trained to care for teenagers?
This a particularly sensitive developmental stage and FNPs learn everything they need to help teenagers cope and adjust so they can become well-rounded and healthy adults.
They are taught to look out for psychological issues like depression and anxiety, which are common at this age. They can talk to the teenager about school, home and their social lives to find out more about their lives.
FNPs are also taught how to monitor and care for teenage reproductive health. They look for the usual markers that indicate normal development, and they also look for any abnormalities that may indicate underlying problems.
How are FNPs trained to care for young adults?
Most of the people within this age range are leaving the nest and taking steps to establish their own lives, and they are sometimes faced with unique health challenges.
One of the most common is mental health issues, and many are diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
FNPs are trained to diagnose mental health disorders in young adults and they learn how to create treatment plans to help them cope. They are also taught how to make referrals for cases they aren’t equipped to deal with themselves.
Reproductive health is important at this stage of life because many young people are keen to start families. Family nurse practitioners are taught how to test and diagnose problems that may lead to difficulties in getting pregnant, infertility, miscarriages and similar problems.
How are FNPs trained to care for adults?
Caring for adults is one of the biggest responsibilities of the family nurse practitioner, and a lot of their training revolves around this particular topic. When people reach adulthood they are likely to experience many types of health problems that are related to lifestyle choices.
FNPs are taught how to diagnose and create treatment plans for common chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.
They are taught how to gather patient histories so they can establish the cause of the illness, and they are also taught about how to talk to adults to help them live better lifestyles for better health.
Some FNPs specialize in oncology and they learn how to dispense the sort of specialized care that is necessary for cancer patients. They learn how to prepare and administer drug combinations for chemotherapy, and how to guide patients through the different stages of cancer therapy.
As they care for adults, FNPs talk to them about the value of a good lifestyle, encouraging them to adopt better diets and integrate exercise into their daily or weekly routine.
Many family nurses talk to adults about how their current lifestyle may impact their future and encourage them to adopt healthy habits so they can age without health problems.
How are FNPs trained to care for seniors?
Seniors form a significant proportion of the people cared for by family nurse practitioners. Most baby boomers are now in the last years of their lives and they need regular medical care, either at home or in hospitals.
FNPs are taught how to diagnose common problems that affect seniors, how to create treatment plans, and how to implement them and provide the best quality of care possible for people in this age group.
They talk to them about the value of a good diet, they find out whether they get sufficient care at home and they also check whether they are getting enough exercise to keep them healthy.
Since not all elderly people can travel to health facilities, FNPs are taught how to conduct home visits. They learn what sort of equipment they should carry along on these visits and how to confirm that an elder is getting good home care. They are also taught how to counsel and advise the family on the best way to care for their loved one as they age.
It is also the job of the FNP to assess whether or not a senior needs to be moved to a medical facility for further treatment and care.
What soft skills are required for FNPs?
Just like all nurses, family nurse practitioners need to be compassionate and empathetic. There are several qualities that enable those who have the right FNP training to excel in their careers. These are some of them:
- They should be excellent listeners – family nurses need to be able to listen carefully to their patients so they can understand not just their symptoms, but also what may have caused them. For those who are not good listeners, there is plenty of information online on how they can develop this vital skill.
- FNPs should have plenty of stamina – this is required of all nurses. They are some of the busiest professionals in any healthcare setting. They need to be able to work long hours without flagging, staying alert throughout, and providing the required standard of care. Good nurses take care of their physical and emotional health, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and making sure that they get enough rest between shifts.
- Good FNPs are constantly learning – these nurses are taking on more and more responsibilities, doing jobs that would otherwise be done by doctors. It is therefore important that they are avid learners who enroll in courses to learn about the latest advances in healthcare. They can attend seminars and conferences or enroll in online courses to keep themselves updated.
- They need a good bedside manner – they need to be ready to help their patient and talk to them in a way that encourages them to open up and puts them in a positive frame of mind. There is a strong correlation between positivity in patients and a faster rate of healing.
- Good FNPs inspire trust – they take time to listen to what their patients have to say so they can learn as much as they can about them. A good family nurse takes time with each patient they treat and makes them feel important regardless of the level of seriousness of their ailment. They take the time to communicate in a way that the patient can understand, and they are prepared to answer any questions the patient may have.
You may not possess all these qualities, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream of becoming a family nurse practitioner. All these qualities can be learned during your training or on the job.
Family nurse practitioners are increasingly taking on roles that were traditionally done by doctors. They are trained to take care of patients of all ages and, by the time they complete their training, they are well-rounded professionals who can treat a variety of conditions.