How do I get Family Nurse Practitioner Certification?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2019
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There are three steps required to get family nurse practitioner certification: post-secondary education, nursing experience, and successful completion of the certification examination. A family nurse practitioner is a licensed nurse who has completed additional training as a nurse practitioner, with a specialty in family medicine and is able to perform a range of functions as the primary health services provider. Family nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat a range of diseases and health concerns.

People who want to get family nurse practitioner certification have usually been working as a nurse practitioner or nurse for several years and enjoy working with people. The family nurse practitioner certification is granted by the Nurses Credentialing Center® or American Academy of Nurse Practitioners®. It is the university's responsibility to ensure candidates meet the academic requirements for this specialty as required by the certifying agencies. Certification requirements vary by state, and all family nurse practitioner candidates should check their local requirements.

The first step toward getting a family nurse practitioner certification is to complete a post-secondary education program. Candidates must have completed both a bachelor of nursing degree and the nurse practitioner graduate degree program to qualify for admissions to the family nurse practitioner program. This program is typically one year of full-time school and is considered a second graduate degree. There are a limited number of universities offering this program, and competition for admissions is quite fierce.


There is a minimum amount of family nurse practitioner experience required before you are eligible to write the family nurse practitioner certification examination. This must be verifiable and completed under the supervision of a licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner. Most candidates complete this experience requirement as part of their full-time position as a nurse practitioner.

The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) examination is a computerized multiple choice exam. Both the American Nurses Credentialing Center® and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners® offer preparation courses and seminars to help students prepare for this exam. Look at the study preparation options and select the one that will work best for you.

Upon successful completion of the family nurse practitioner certification, candidates are qualified to complete physical examinations of patients, order labs and tests, and prescribe medication. The additional training in family care covers a wide range of common diseases and illnesses. The chronic shortage of doctors in small towns and rural areas leaves communities without any trained medical professional. Family nurse practitioners can meet the vast majority of the health services needs of these communities.


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