Can Family Nurse Practitioners Specialize?

Can Family Nurse Practitioners Specialize? blog header
Can Family Nurse Practitioners Specialize? blog header

Earning a Masters in Nursing - Family Nurse Practitioner is an excellent option for those who are interested in broadening their scope of practice. Registered nurses can build on the skills and knowledge that they have gained through their nursing practice by pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. Nurse practitioners are licensed to diagnose, treat patients and prescribe medications and tests. Different types of nurse practitioners are licensed to treat different age groups of patients and manage different kinds of conditions. A family nurse practitioner may treat patients of all ages, and a large percentage of FNPs (43%) provide primary care. The family nurse practitioner role is more focused on management of chronic conditions and primary care as opposed to acute care.

In addition to primary care, FNPs also work in a variety of subspecialties. Many registered nurses enjoy working in a specialty and would like to continue to specialize as an FNP. This is indeed possible, and many FNPs have a subspecialty, such as cardiology, dermatology or oncology, for example. Some roles are associated with specific age groups. For example, pediatric nurse practitioners may only work with pediatric patients in a sub-specialty such as dermatology. An FNP may specialize in dermatology and treat patients of all ages. An adult-gerontological NP may treat adults. Being able to see and treat patients of all ages is a benefit enjoyed by FNPs, and they also have plenty of flexibility in specialization.

Nurse practitioners who choose a subspecialty are sometimes not required to obtain additional certifications. Certifications are available for some specialties. Licensure and certification mean two different things. Licensure allows a nurse practitioner to practice in their state legally, and obtaining a certification means that the nurse practitioner has demonstrated that they are competent to practice in a particular setting. Becoming certified in a specialty will enhance your knowledge and show dedication. Some specialties that offer this option include cardiology, dermatology, and emergency nursing. NPs working in cardiology may become certified by the American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine. Those interested in dermatology can obtain the Dermatology NP certification offered by the Dermatology Nurses’ Association. FNPs may even opt to specialize in emergency nursing and can become certified through the American Academy of Emergency Nurse Practitioners (AAENP).

A few specialties, such as psychiatry and mental health, require post-professional certification for nurse practitioners, which is offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Another area of specialization in which many NPs choose to obtain a post-master’s or post-grad certification is women’s health. These certifications require that the NP take additional classes to supplement their knowledge in these areas.

The FNP may subspecialize in many areas, and their ability to treat patients of all ages increases their job options compared to pediatric or adult-gerontological nurse practitioners. FNPs do not need to obtain any additional certifications to work in an area such as primary care, but they have many other specialization options that can give their career a boost.

Becoming a Nursing Practitioner

View our complete guide on how to become a family nurse practitioner.