Family nurse practitioners function as partners with primary care physicians (Raingruber, 2003). As patient advocates, their professional obligation is to improve American children’s long-term health in order for them to live longer and keep their well-being (Fleming, Green & Martin, (2000). They also provide primary or ambulatory care and work in schools, homes, clinics, hospice settings, and occupational health areas.
Accordng to Whyte (1997, p. 2), family nursing has evolved from clinical experience and research that focused on sickness of children and their families to chronic and terminal illness, sexual abuse, learning difficulties, eating disorder, vulnerable families, care of the elderly, and intensive care nursing. Thus, FNPs, as professional experts, are responsible in the development of the life cycle of the family.
They need to give consideration on family dimension and meet the challenges and the complex and demanding nature when working with families as nurse practitioners. They should also engage in opportunities that would allow them to increase their knowledge and enhance their skills in practicing family nursing. Education of nurse practitioners Educational requirements for NPs to be qualified in the profession continued to changed in the past decades.
Forty certificate NP programs were being offered in 1990 but it decreased to twelve by 1998 (Hamric et al. , 2005). The 2002 National Task Force report on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education viewed that the NP programs should be offered at the graduate level, necessitated the national nursing accrediting body to implement accreditation on NP programs, and required NPs to be supervised during clinical hours for a minimum of 500 (National Task Force, 2002).
In the same year, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) also reported that practice specific core competencies should be specified for the entry level FNPs and nurses with other specialty areas. The concept of theory based practice should also be included in the programs for NP’s knowledge expansion since it provides a systematic approach in improving their decision making and critical thinking strategies (Tomey & Alligood, 2006).
The United States requires individuals to accomplish any of the three undergraduate programs – 2-year associate degree (AA), 3-year diploma, or a 4-year baccalaureate degree (BSN) – in order to qualify as nurse practitioner and pass the National Council Licensure Examination or NCLEX to obtain an RN (Registered Nurse) license, they may also complete a master’s and then doctoral degree with the specialty of their choice, which may or may not be related to nursing field.
Certification of other chosen specialty or specialties may be granted through national nursing specialty certification boards provided that nurses take the examination, have work experience, and pursue continued education based on nationally recognized quality standards.
National specialty certificates are maintained and renewed after 5 to 7 years with some other requirements like self-assessment exercises, practice requirements, additional approved courses, and/or retaking the national board examinations (Mccurdy et al. , 2004). Theoretical Underpinnings of the Roles of Nurse Practitioners The following theories are deemed useful in guiding FNPs in executing their roles and performing effectively in clinical practice as primary care providers.