The healthcare industry is one of the most exciting and in-demand industries, not just here in Texas, but across the country. Thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the resources are spread so thin in some areas that the state has announced plans to hire over 8,000 additional contract healthcare workers. So, what does this mean for those in the industry, or those looking to enter the field? It means that there are opportunities and it could be the perfect time to boost your training and knowledge.
If you’re an actively practicing RN looking to climb the career ladder and solidify your future, you may want to look into the Doctor of Nursing Practice Family Nurse Practitioner (DNP FNP) program. Not sure if a career as a family nurse practitioner in Texas is right for you? Here’s a closer look at what it would entail.
What Does a Family Nurse Practitioner Do?
As an active practicing RN, you’re well aware of the many responsibilities that are involved with your job, but the career of a family nurse practitioner may not be as clear. It’s important to first point out that the job varies depending on the state you are practicing in.
Here in Texas, family nurse practitioners do not have what’s called full practice authority. This is something that many in the healthcare industry are fighting to change, however, as it would allow them to take on more responsibilities, therefore helping to alleviate the role that physicians, as an example, have to take on.
Some of the responsibilities in your job as a family nurse practitioner will include:
- Providing primary care to your patients that span their lifetime. You will treat both individuals and their families (if applicable).
- Conducting physical exams, procedures and treatments.
- Providing healthcare during a patient’s pregnancy.
- Offering family planning services.
- Ordering diagnostic and laboratory tests, and interpreting them.
- Providing health education.
- Conducting a risk evaluation of the patient’s health.
- Acting as a coordinator of the patient’s various health care services.
It should also be noted that in the state of Texas, nurse practitioners do have prescriptive authority. This is done through written agreements with a physician that works in concert with them.
How Do You Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Curious as to how you can become a family nurse practitioner? That will depend on the path you want to take. There are different requirements for each path and the program will vary in length. You can opt for the BSN to DNP route which takes just over three years, or the post-Masters DNP, which takes two to three years. Again, it’s best to look at the requirements to decide which is right for you.
You can check out nurse practitioner programs in Texas at schools like Baylor University. Looking at a specific program will ensure you understand the requirements, and it’ll shed light on the content you’ll be learning and what you can expect to gain through the program.
Where Can You Work as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
For many people choosing a new career path, you want to have a clear picture of not just what you’ll be doing but where you’ll be working. As a family nurse practitioner, you’ll have the opportunity to work in a wide range of healthcare settings, which can help make the job more interesting and challenging at the same time. Typical locations include private practice, community health care centers, employee health care centers, hospitals, college and university campuses. Chances are that at least one of these settings will be ideal for you and your goals.
How Much Money Do Family Nurse Practitioners Make?
One reason why RNs may choose to further their education and become a family nurse practitioner is the salary increase. As a registered nurse, the median pay in 2020 was $75,330. While that may seem like a decent salary, there is a pretty large increase as a nurse practitioner. In this position, you can expect a median pay of $117,670. That is a huge change in your lifestyle most likely.
What Does the Job Market Look Like?
As mentioned, the healthcare industry is desperate for staff in many areas of the country. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the category of nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners will grow by 45% from 2020-2030. That is a staggering amount and much faster than the national average. It equates to more than 121,000 jobs.
In looking at the states with the highest employment level for nurse practitioners, Texas ranks third, just behind California and New York. It also ranks third in terms of salary, making it a very attractive state to pursue this career path.
What Kind of Traits Do You Need to Excel?
While education will be necessary to become a family nurse practitioner, that’s not the only thing that can help you to succeed; there are some common traits and skills that can make your transition into the job smoother and more successful. These include:
- Empathy, which allows you to understand how your patient may be feeling in their shoes. It allows you to relate to them, which helps to create that connection between patient and caregiver.
- Detail-oriented, making sure that you are always on top of all the small details and nothing is forgotten or overlooked.
- Organized, as you will have many patients that you are caring for, so all charts and information must be kept neat and organized.
- Excellent communication skills, which includes listening, speaking and writing. Your patients will depend on this skill.
- Passion for healthcare and helping people.
- Creativity to come up with imaginative approaches and ideas.
- A high level of integrity and ethics.
Many of these skills are probably well-tuned thanks to your time as an RN.
So, if your time as an RN has been rewarding but you’re ready to push yourself to the next level and take on a more senior career, you may want to look into what a family nurse practitioner has to offer in terms of challenges and rewards.
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