Differences Between a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor of Nursing Practice

doctor nurseHealthcare needs are constantly changing, and it’s a continuous challenge for the industry to keep up. With an expanding, aging population, our requirements for healthcare services are only increasing and the healthcare industry has to adapt to meet these new demands.

However, by 2030, the United States is expected to face a shortage of 43,000 primary care physicians, and 500,000 nurses are expected to retire in that time. This means that training up the next generation of primary care givers is of the utmost importance, and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) and Doctor of Nursing Practices (DNPs) are all going to play a vital role in filling that demand.

This is one of the reasons why jobs such as Nurse Practitioners are some of the fastest growing in the country, offering rewarding careers and good pay.

So, what are the differences between FNPs and DNPs and how can you take the next step in your career by studying for one of these degrees?

Why are These Roles So Sought After?

There are a number of concerns about the future of healthcare that are combining to drive changes in nursing, and dnp fnp programs are seen as one of the answers. Some of these concerns include:

  • Shortages of nursing personnel
  • Concerns about patient care standards
  • Ever increasing complexity of patient care
  • Increasing knowledge of underlying patient care
  • Increasing educational requirements
  • Limited supply of doctorally prepared nurses

This means there is a high demand for nursing graduates who have the ability to come up with innovative ways of improving patient care and be leaders in the future development of the healthcare system.

Through their extensive studies and training, DNPs and FNPs are ideally placed to perform these tasks and reduce the strain on the healthcare system.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

There are so many acronyms here that it can start to get a bit confusing, so we will start with the umbrella term which is Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), which Family Nurse Practitioners and Doctor of Nursing Practices fall under.

An APRN is someone who has attained a master’s degree in nursing. Within the APRN umbrella, there are different degrees you can study for, two of which are DNP and FNP. These different degrees allow nurses to narrow down the type of career they want and to study the relevant skills that will allow them to perfect their level of care.

These further qualifications allow nurses to take their skills to the next level, and a DNP is seen as the highest degree you can attain in nursing (terminal degree). The further degrees help develop advanced leadership and management skills, which open up new doors for graduates to expand their careers.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

The FNP degree trains nurses for a wide variety of functions within the healthcare system, preparing them for long relationships with their patients and their families. They are trained to be healthcare providers across a lifespan, meaning they treat individuals and families of all ages, including through pregnancy.

The FNP is a master’s level degree that trains students for leadership and management roles with a focus on diagnosing and treating patients and managing acute and chronic conditions.

The FNP generally takes 3 years to complete with certified exams at the end of the period. This program is open to students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and is a great way for nurses to further their careers within the industry.

After graduating, FNPs operate in all areas of the healthcare system, filling roles in clinics, hospitals, and medical offices. The roles of FNPs differ between states, but general duties include:

  • Obtaining medical histories
  • Physical exams
  • Developing care plans
  • Ordering and interpreting lab tests
  • Educating the patient
  • Participating in research studies

Doctor of Nursing Practices (DNP)

A DNP degree is considered the terminal degree in nursing, giving nurses a doctorate level degree that’s focussed on the science, business, and management sides of nursing. The role of a DNP is to give nurses the ability to examine healthcare trends to improve outcomes in patient care.

To do this, DNPs will use evidence-based skills to spot inefficiencies in systems and implement changes.

There is a great emphasis on combining patient care, leadership, and management, allowing nurses to work in both clinical and administrative settings. For this reason, you will find DNPs working in public policy, public health, education, and many other settings.

DNP graduates are prepared to become leaders in the healthcare industry, providing exemplary care, innovating, and implementing new methods to improve the healthcare experience.

Curriculum options feature courses such as Servant Leadership, Transforming Health Care Organizations and Changing Outcomes, and Family Healthcare Management II. These courses prepare nurses to take on new leadership roles and lead the push for improved healthcare.

Skills that are associated with a DNP are:

  • Understanding the scientific underpinnings of practice
  • Working with other professionals to improve patient outcomes
  • System leadership
  • Ability to expand access to healthcare through innovation
  • Using analytical methods for evidence-based practices
  • IT literacy
  • Advocating healthcare policy

Taking the Next Step in Your Career

FNP and DNP degrees give nurses the opportunity to improve their skills and continue to progress their careers with a combination of study and hands on experience. Both courses open up doors into management and leaderships positions and equip you with the skills you need to succeed.

They’re also degrees that are vital to the future of the healthcare system, allowing healthcare providers to meet the growing needs of the population at a time when there’s a shortage of primary care physicians.

This means that nurses are taking greater responsibility and furthering their involvement in the way care is given. Also, training the next leaders in the healthcare system is vitally important.

FNPs and DNPs offer aspiring nurses the ability to develop those skills that will allow them to enhance the care patients receive and improve policies.

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