FNP and NP Degree Comparison

The nursing field has evolved into a more responsibility-driven sector of healthcare. Professionals within the field of nursing have long provided delicate care to patients from diverse backgrounds with a wide range of different illnesses, diseases, and injuries.

Consider a Featured Online FNP Program currently accepting applicants:

Simmons College's online Nursing @ Simmons program offers currently licensed RNs an opportunity to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become Family Nurses Practitioners. Nursing @ Simmons offers two online degree options: The RN to MSN: Designed for RNs who do not have a bachelor’s degree but have earned an associate degree, or a diploma or certificate from a hospital-based program. The MSN: Designed for RNs who already hold a bachelor's degree.

Nursing @ Georgetown delivers the online MS in Nursing program from Georgetown University. In as few as 19 months, RNs with a BSN can earn their degrees to pursue certification in an APRN specialty.
Click for admissions informatoin.

Nursing @ USC delivers the online Master of Science in Nursing program from the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work Department of Nursing. RN and BSN required.

What are Nurse Practitioners?

Due to their usefulness in the medical field, new and innovative positions have came about that allow nursing professionals to have more responsibility to the patients that they serve.

The Nurse Practitioner is a licensed provider of primary care in a clinical setting. These professionals start with obtaining licensure as registered nurses and move forward into higher training and education in order to become eligible for running private practices or working directly with patients in the field.

As a part of their daily responsibilities, NPs typically see patients that are in need of diagnosis for illnesses, examinations, or medication. Similar to Primary Care Doctors, Nurse Practitioners have the ability to refer clients for further care and prescribe medication. These professionals can be found in nearly all clinical settings, including large scale hospitals and specialty clinics.

What is the FNP?

Family Nurse Practitioners are a branch of Nurse Practitioners that focus strictly on the care of individuals and their families. Part of the responsibility of being a FNP is ensuring that patients receive adequate preventative care, health screenings, routine check-ups, and diagnosis when needed. This branch of nursing practice is often mistaken and confused with the standard NP track, which has a lot of the same responsibilities.

The Appeal of Being A Primary Caregiver

As a FNP, professionals can settle into a career that involves seeing a familiar set of clients and their families throughout their lifespan. This career field is especially attractive to individuals that wish to become primary care providers in familiar neighborhoods or communities.

This line of work is typically more slow-paced than other nursing fields and can provide a career that remains stable for a lifetime.

The primary difference between the NP and the FNP is the certification required for each distinction. Some college graduates may choose to stay generalized in their certification with the NP, so that they can remain open to different career options while working in the field.

Treatment Groups

The NP has many diverse options for pursuing a career after becoming licensed and certified. Nurse practitioners can treat people from all age groups, backgrounds, and medical histories. While there are many different specialty classes found in advanced nursing practice, the standard track often leaves professionals open to many different options in the professional realm.

Since NPs can work in many different settings primarily, the groups that they treat are not limited to any certain demographic or classification. If you choose to pursue a career as a Nurse Practitioner, you could come in contact with people from birth until old age on a daily basis.

The FNP also has a versatile set of skills that can be applicable in many settings. This specialty track of advanced nursing practice specializes in the general care of individuals and families, which can also present a diverse patient pool.

Since FNPs provide preventative care and lifelong health relationships with their patients, they are more likely to observe natural changes throughout development than any other branch of advanced nursing.

Steps to Becoming a NP/FNP

The journey to becoming a NP or FNP begins with entry into the field of general nursing. Some professionals may begin at the associate’s level, while others go straight into bachelor’s level programs.

Before you can enter into master’s level programs for advanced nursing practice, you must be licensed as a registered nurse and typically have some experience working in the field. The is required in part due to the need for experience and understanding of nursing practice prior to engaging in further education.

The steps below can help you organize your plan to becoming an advanced practice nurse in your future.

1. Complete your Bachelor’s in Nursing

This is the primary step for anyone interested in pursuing a career as a Nurse Practitioner within any specialty. The Bachelor’s in Nursing degree program consists of entry-level coursework and experience opportunities that can prepare upcoming nurses for the experiences they may come in contact with in the field. In total, this requirement can take 3-4 years to complete.

2. Obtain Licensure as a Registered Nurse

After you have completed your Bachelor’s in Nursing, you will be required to obtain licensure prior to working with clients in the field. The licensure requirements for most states include the need for supervised work experience, which is usually gained during your educational program, and the successful completion of the NCLEX.

3. Gain Relevant Work Experience

Once you are licensed, you may need 1-2 years of work experience as a nurse before you are permitted to apply for graduate-level programs in nursing practice. If you plan on pursuing a specialty certification such as the FNP, you should find work in relevant fields.

4. Obtain a Master’s in Nursing

In order to become certified as a NP, you must hold at minimum a Master’s in Nursing. This degree program typically has courses that are focused on the advanced practice of nursing as well as the diagnostic and pharmaceutical aspects of this line of work. The entire master’s program can be completed in 1-2 years after initial enrollment.

5. Earn Certification as a NP/FNP

One of the final steps for becoming a nurse practitioner is applying for certification through relevant certification boards. This entire process may include an evaluation of your progress through the previous steps, a background check, and an examination that is specific to the specialization you have chosen. Once you have completed this step, you can begin working as a NP in your chosen field.

Adult Gerontology Course Comparison

While in MSN programs, students can take courses that are relevant to advanced nursing practice, such as Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and Advanced Health Assessment. Since students within these programs are preparing for independent practice careers, it is important that topics related to the diagnosis, treatment, and medication of different ailments be outlined in detail.

For general NP programs, students may engage in coursework that pertains to all levels of advanced nursing practice as a whole. Since there is no designation or specialization at this level, it is likely that specialty courses such as Family Planning, Care for the Childbearing Mother, and Family Theory are not included within the curriculum.

These courses are more likely to appear in the curriculum for FNP programs, since they focus heavily on care for the family.

The FNP program may include courses that are specific to care throughout the lifespan. Prenatal Care and Maternal Care are common courses within this program, along with Nursing for the Aging and Frail Care.

Adult Gerontology Family Nurse Practitioner Salary Information

The amount you earn as a NP or FNP depends solely on the type of field you work in and the amount of experience you have in the field. Some professionals at this educational level may even obtain higher level supervising positions – which can pay more per year.

The salary information below can provide some insight into the earning capabilities of professionals that choose to work in the field of advanced nursing practice.

Adult Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Certifications

Students that have completed the educational requirements for both the NP and FNP must complete the requirements for their certification in addition to local licensure requirements. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board is the primary resource for upcoming NPs that are interested in becoming certified and working in the field.

According to the AANPCB website, prospects that are interested in pursuing certification as Family Nurse Practitioners will be tested on their clinical knowledge of people across the lifespan.

Once learners have been certified as NPs within their chosen designation, they will be expected to maintain their credentials through the recertification process every 5 years. The initial cost of the certification exam is $240 and is repeatable at the same charge.

Work Settings

Professionals that find careers in Advanced Nursing Practice can find careers in nearly all aspects of healthcare. NPs that specialized in generalize care may find diverse job options in areas that treat people from all age groups and lifestyles, while FNPs may specialize in private care for families or educational nursing.

Our team of experts has reviewed some of the most popular settings for NPs and listed them below.

  • Hospitals
  • Specialty Healthcare Centers
  • Community Health Centers
  • Schools
  • Offices of Physicians
  • Private Practice

There are no limits to the endeavors you could pursue as a certified Nurse Practitioner. More and more people are trusting the care of these professionals for primary and acute care than ever before, due to their availability and background in nursing.