A brief overview of nursing history
The profession of nursing dates back to the early-1800s, as this is when the idea of nursing as a profession was first discussed in Germany. Before this, nurses only provided basic first aid to soldiers in wars. The UK quickly followed along and started working on developing the role of a nurse from a broader perspective.
Florence Nightingale was among the most notable names who actively participated in bringing a change in a nurse’s role and duties in the field of healthcare. In fact, she is known as the founder of modern-day nursing even today because of the learnings she left in the form of a published book called ‘Notes on Nursing: What it is and what it is not.’ These were her personal notes on what she learned throughout her career as a war nurse, what she thought helped the patient to recover, and her ideology about nursing.
However, her learning and her teachings have subsequently become the pillars of modern nursing. Her ideology even reached beyond Europe into the United States. In the US, the first nursing training school was inaugurated in 1872, and in the following years, the field of nursing witnessed drastic improvements. With each passing year, the area of nursing has only developed further in attempts to make it more patient-centered, health-promoting and culturally appropriate. The road towards achieving this has been highly challenging yet rewarding at the same time.
As nursing evolved and is still evolving, nursing education has undergone and is still undergoing remarkable changes to improve patient care further. This article will explore the different types of nursing education programs that nursing enthusiasts can pursue, the importance of advanced nursing education, and what it is like to pursue a career as a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
What is nursing education?
The term ‘nursing education’ refers to the formal training and education of individuals specifically in the field of nursing. The main goal of such education is to equip future nurses with knowledge and practical skills they will require in future to care for their patients.
Nursing education comprises specialized training programs for nurses who continue to work, as well as college, university or high school education programs like diplomas, certifications, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. An accurate description of nursing education, however, goes beyond simply learning about healthcare and mastering technical skills. Moreover, it emphasizes the beliefs and viewpoints that nurse professionals should have in order to improve patient and facility outcomes.
What are the different degrees in nursing education?
Individuals who want to pursue a career in nursing can follow several paths, however, they must receive the necessary education and credentials. For each nursing title available, a different degree of education is needed. The following is a list of some degree levels of nursing education that can be helpful, whether for an experienced nurse trying to advance their career and skills or an ambitious individual who wants to enter the nursing field:
ADN: An associate degree in nursing is often the minimum amount of education needed in order to become a registered nurse. Registered nurses, or RNs, are the kind of nurses you encounter most regularly in healthcare or medical settings. Students who complete an ADN program will have the clinical experience and fundamental understanding of nursing practice necessary to be successful in patient care environments. ADN programs typically take two to three years to complete. Clinical practice and classroom learning are included throughout the curriculum.
BSN: A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree allows RNs to pursue their profession in order to get the more comprehensive and refined skill sets they can learn in a longer-term curriculum. A BSN can make registered nurses eligible for more specialized work opportunities. Traditionally, a BSN degree program will take four years to complete for fresh or newbie students, and 16 months for those who are already RNs.
MSN: A Master of Science in Nursing degree program gives an opportunity for nurses to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). MSN degree programs are designed and structured for individuals who have already earned a BSN or related bachelor’s degree. Typically, the MSN degree program will take one to three years to complete, depending upon the type and requirement of the program. Nowadays, nurses who are working and want to advance in their careers have various online education opportunities to make it easy for them to achieve an advanced degree in nursing. An online MSN-FNP program, offered by Rockhurst University, provides nurses with a unique opportunity to improve their skills and complete their post-graduation education at their own pace. This is a great chance for working and busy individuals, who find it challenging to attend in-person classes on campus due to their commitments, to complete an advanced degree without compromising on the quality of education.
Additionally, there are many other advanced degree programs offered in nursing education, such as PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). There are also diplomas and other advanced certifications that help to advance one’s nursing skills and career, such as non-degree nursing credentials, and qualifications to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or licensed practical nurse (LPN).
Importance of nursing education
High-quality healthcare services are becoming more and more in demand in light of current trends. Since nurses spend most of their time providing medical care to patients, their importance cannot be understated. Nursing education is crucial because it promotes improved care for patients. Better patient outcomes, lower rates of readmission, shorter durations of stay and decreased mortality are all benefits of having better-trained nurses. In other words, nurses with high-quality nursing education perform better for patients.
What is advanced nursing practice?
The nursing field has a discipline called ‘advanced nursing practice’ that expands and extends the boundaries of what a nurse can do. Moreover, advanced nursing practice increases the knowledge and polishes the skills of nurses as well as fosters the growth and development of their profession.
With a doctoral or master’s degree, nurses can work in more senior positions in their field as APRNs or APNs (advanced practice nurses). Similarly, with advanced nursing practice credentials, nurse practitioners can become more independent and flexible in their careers and patient care.
With the assistance of advanced nursing practice education, nurses have the skills necessary to undertake a variety of tasks in patient care and the healthcare industry overall. Advanced practice nurses fulfill a variety of roles, which include reviewing the medical background and symptoms of the patient, acquiring tests, identifying diagnoses, creating and altering treatment strategies and administering medication.
Advanced practice nurses may carry out comparable tasks as registered nurses, but they are given more autonomy and can supervise nursing staff. Additionally, these professionals might also try to improve and enhance the general patient care and treatment programs in their line of work.
How does advanced nursing education help nurses?
It is important that nurses continue and advance their education and constantly update themselves with knowledge of new nursing interventions, as this can be extremely important and beneficial to their career. Some of the benefits of advanced nursing education for nurses include:
Enhanced patient care
Nurses can enhance the care they provide for their patients by learning new, cutting-edge approaches as they continue their education and training in the nursing sector. By utilizing technology and conducting data analysis in their lessons, nurses may improve their abilities. Moreover, nurses also get practical experience through projects such as capstone assignment, which enables them to pinpoint issues, carry out research-based interventions, browse the literature and suggest options to enhance their professional practice.
Make wiser decisions about patient wellbeing
As nurses’ education advances, they will have the capacity to select the best medical solutions. This can aid in improving patient outcomes, increasing operational effectiveness and cutting expenses. Additionally, the primary aim of nurses in advancing their nursing education is to understand and use the information that will enable them to employ evidence-based practices in order to make choices with sound judgment.
Improve their overall healthcare knowledge
No matter what program or degree nurses pick, enrolling themselves in an advanced nursing program will allow them to increase their healthcare expertise and skills. Healthcare information systems, research analysis and innovation are all significant study areas. Once the nurses complete their graduation or advanced studies, the increased knowledge and more profound understanding can assist them in improving their employment options.
Strengthen the organization and skills
The new skills nurses acquire are fascinating and creative. In order to make the most accurate judgments possible, nurses can understand how to teach healthcare professionals, automate clinical treatment and analyze information. Nurses can benefit their own organization and those in related healthcare professions by developing these new abilities.
Increasing public health awareness
If nurses continue their studies in nursing, they could have the skills and insight needed to significantly contribute to the transformation of the health of the community. Advanced nursing education can equip nurses with the knowledge and expertise they need to design, organize, carry out and assess health assistance and programs for underprivileged people. It can be pretty satisfying for nurses, since their advanced studies have a favorable influence on individuals around them.
How does advanced education expand the scope of practice for nursing?
Advanced education is essential to eliminate the restrictions related to the scope of practice of nursing. As a result, nursing education must be increased in order to promote health equity, develop a skilled and diverse nursing workforce, and protect nurses’ wellbeing and health. A large portion of the healthcare staff in the US consists of almost 4 million registered nurses. It will take significant increases in the number, variety and distribution of nurses across not only geographic regions but also across specialties and care settings to meet the demands that nurses will progressively face, such as caring for an aging population, assisting in the development of policies aimed at addressing social determinants of health and breaking down structural racism, as well as responding to an increase in mental and behavioral health conditions.
Nursing education must be reinforced and strengthened to prepare aspiring nurses to take on such issues. Historically, nursing education training and programs have prioritized learning for services only in medical or healthcare facilities over services in different community contexts, such as workplaces, academies, schools and home healthcare. To prepare future nurses, nursing educational institutions should offer in-depth instruction in primary and community care settings, as well as in health clinics in rural areas and other medical services locations. Additionally, they should give nursing students education that will accustom them to using technologies like digital health tools, telehealth and data analytics.
It is crucial to note that most of the professors in the present nursing programs are white women. The panel emphasizes the need to prepare nurses for dealing with socioeconomic factors affecting wellness and health equality by developing a diverse nursing workforce. Although the diversity of the nursing workforce has progressively increased, educational institutions for nurses must maintain and step up their attempts to find, assist and educate students from various racial, ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds.
Furthermore, it is essential to expand the number of nurses with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees. PhD-educated nurses are required to undertake research to enhance community and clinical health as well as teach and train the coming generations of nurses. To create the workforce that will be necessary for the coming years, it is also crucial to increase the percentage of nurses with a specialization in social aspects of wellness and in specific specialties where there is a shortage, such as elderly care, psychological health, primary care, maternal health, long-term care and public and community health.
Pursuing a career as an FNP with an advanced nursing degree
The family nurse practitioner is an advanced-practice nurse who has obtained a post-graduate certificate in FNP practice or at least a master’s degree in nursing. FNPs may treat patients of all ages, including children and the elderly, because they have gone through specialized training and education in family medicine. Due to their extensive skill set, FNPs routinely handle and serve families as a whole and form enduring connections with their patients.
Through primary care and preventative medicine, FNPs concentrate on assisting patients in maintaining overall wellbeing. They are also capable of diagnosing and treating acute and chronic illnesses, however, individuals who are severely ill or have serious medical illnesses are not included in their area of responsibility. When a treatment and condition of a patient falls outside of the boundaries of FNP practice, they frequently work with other healthcare professionals to refer them to specialty treatment.
Additionally, a family nurse practitioner is responsible for conducting the physical examination of a patient, prescribing medicines to patients as well as creating treatment procedures. They also recommend and assess diagnostic and laboratory tests, analyze and assist patients in managing acute and chronic illnesses, and educate patients on their condition.
How much can FNP earn?
FNPs can earn a handsome annual income because they have an advanced nursing degree. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2021, a family nurse practitioner made an average annual pay of around $123,000. The actual income might vary and depending on a variety of factors, such as the type of healthcare setting, location, work experience, etc.
Work options for a family nurse practitioner
There are different settings or areas where an FNP can work, and some of them are listed below:
Primary care facilities
FNPs act as many people’s primary care providers in jurisdictions where nurse professionals have full practice power. FNPs may collaborate with primary care doctors in states where practice authority is constrained. Given the nation’s lack of primary care physicians, particularly in rural regions, primary care is one area where FNPs may have a significant influence. By addressing this gap, FNPs can benefit underprivileged patient populations. These settings provide a better work-life balance that some FNPs prefer since they often have more restricted hours than a hospital or urgent care environment.
Ambulatory care or outpatient clinics
Ambulatory care facilities give patients a chance to obtain convenient care without spending a lot of time in the hospital. In these clinics, FNPs can help doctors with quick procedures. Additionally, outpatient clinics operate during more conventional hours, which may appeal to FNPs seeking flexibility in the evenings and on the weekends.
Schools and other educational institutes
Some FNPs practice at school-based clinics or other academic institutes (such as colleges, universities, etc.), where they offer students primary care. They may test for mental and behavioral health issues and counsel young people on detrimental behaviors as part of their work with this demographic.
Public health clinics
Likewise, in traditional medical offices, FNPs at public health centers do wellness exams and frequently assist underprivileged areas by lowering costs and increasing access to primary care. They may also concentrate on specific public health care requirements, such as TB, infectious diseases or STD clinics.
Institutions for long-term care
FNPs are particularly suited for positions in long-term care institutions where patients might have complicated demands and are at an elevated risk of being hospitalized. FNPs can serve as a patient’s point of contact with their multidisciplinary care team because of their expertise in cooperating and coordinating treatment across experts.
FNPs who are employed in settings with restricted practice authority can discover that their foremost job opportunity is at doctors’ offices. These FNPs may be required by local legislation to work with or under the direction of a doctor. FNPs nonetheless deliver exceptional care in these contexts and exercise their professional rights to the utmost degree permitted by the law.