Can a Family Nurse Practitioner Work Only in Primary Care and With What Age of Patients?

Have you ever wondered if a career as a family nurse practitioner may be right for you? If you want a job that lets you form close, long-term bonds with your patients while treating a broad range of health conditions, then family care nursing could be for you. Of course, you still need to know some basics of the profession, such as “Do family nurse practitioners work only in general practice?” and “What age group would I work with as a family care nurse?”

Basic Information about Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners occupy a hybrid role between physicians and nurses. Like medical doctors, nurse practitioners can diagnose patients, order tests and prescribe most medications. Unlike physicians, advanced practice nurses are only trained to work with certain populations and use holistically focused nursing practices to care for patients. Nurse practitioners may be required to work under the supervision of a practicing physician; however, this does not mean that doctors stand over the shoulder of advanced practice nurses. Instead, a family nurse practitioner may join a physician’s practice and refer certain cases to the doctors in the group.

Age Range

So, what does this mean for your potential career as a family nurse practitioner? What age range of patients would you be able to treat? You will be able to provide primary care for patients of all ages. You might see a newborn baby with a skin rash, a teenaged girl needing a pap smear or a geriatric patient with anxiety. Unlike other nurse practitioners, you aren’t limited to treating only adults or just patients under eighteen. However, your scope of practice will be more limited.

Where Can You Work?

As a nurse practitioner, you will be trained in one specific area of care. You can study gerontology, the treatment of older patients, or become a nurse-midwife and care for pregnant women and newborn infants. Nurse practitioners work in many different fields of healthcare, but do not enjoy the same flexibility as a registered nurse. A bachelor’s degree in nursing will prepare you to be a generalist who can work anywhere, but graduate school gives you in-depth training in one field. As a family nurse practitioner, you will be limited to providing primary care to families and individuals. However, you can work in a group clinic, a hospice, or open your own practice. Plus, you can still use your RN license and work as a registered nurse in any setting.

The Bottom Line

Although nurse practitioners have a limited scope of practice, the family care specialty lets you work with many different health issues. You will dabble in mental health, gynecology, dermatology, cardiology and many more areas as you care for your patients. You will constantly improve your medical knowledge and nursing skills, and patient education will be a large part of your job. Family nurse practitioner education programs are growing throughout the country as more and more people realize what an amazing career this field offers; you can be part of this trend.