Family Nurse Practitioner’s Role and Duties

Table of Contents

Family health is important to society. For the provision of family care, a special nursing role exists called the family nurse practitioner (Distler, 2013). It is one of the roles available to Advanced Practicing Nurses. Different sub-roles of APNs are capable of specialized care targeted at various groups. The family nurse practitioner, for example, provides care across all ages and genders. Their role is becoming essential due to their universality and requires additional attention. This article will provide an overview of the role as well as summaries of two research papers and one expert opinion on this role.

Selected Advanced Practice Role

The field of nursing allows for a wide variety of specialties. One of the advanced nursing roles that are available to nurse practitioners is a family nurse practitioner. The family nurse practitioner program at the South University focuses on providing training in both professional and healthcare standards. Unlike other advanced roles, family nurse practitioners provide care for families as a whole. They provide care to diverse groups of people without discrimination by age or gender. Their qualifications include chronic condition management, women’s health oversight, provision of child wellness, treatment on minor acute injuries and episodic care for acute illnesses. In rural areas, they may be the only care providers because of their ability to work independently. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing determines the scope of their practice, and as of 2017, they have been granted full practice authority in 22 states.

Patient Safety

National Patient Safety Goals were established by the Joint Commission to improve patient safety through specific goals. They may include information on the infection prevention, staff communication and any other aspect that requires attention. According to the NPSGs, FNP a clinical role as it is designed to promote patient safety through continuously improving quality of care and reporting of practitioner and healthcare teams. Clinical support to the NPSGs from the FNP can come in the form of care provision to the relevant goals such as the implementation of evidence-based practices against bloodstream infections. Due to the versatility of the FNP, they can provide almost any non-clinical help, from labeling of medications to patient education.

Research Articles

The following articles cover various topics related to the role of the family nurse practitioner. They will showcase how FNPs implement new models of operation, the evaluation of FNP students and future prospects for the role. The first article is a research paper by Melaku-Abbera and Smith. It is focused on the evaluation of the Individualized Diabetes Care Model which was led by family nurse practitioners. The model described in the article was created to combat Type 2 diabetes mellitus, which incidence rate is increasing rapidly. The researchers utilized records collected over a 3-month period with a total of 123 patients who visited one family nurse practitioner multiple times. During the visits, the Individualized Diabetes Care Model was applied to the patients with the goal of providing knowledge that could help the patients to self-manage their type 2 diabetes mellitus. After the program was applied, the researchers waited and monitored the patients for a year until the final results were gathered. They stated that a sustained improvement of 1.5% in control of hemoglobin was achieved (Melaku-Abbera & Smith, 2017). The role of the family nurse practitioner allowed the application of the model to multiple members of the family at once, with the possible improvement of results due to the cross-pollination of knowledge within families.

The second paper is focused on the opinions of family nurse practitioners on the practice of clinical site visits. Clinical site visits are widely used as a measure of evaluation of graduate nursing students’ success. The study was conducted through the use of an 11-item questionnaire. It was designed based on literature review of articles about on-site visits of clinical preceptors. The questionnaire was sent out to 355 email addresses of current and former preceptors of a large mid-Southern university. 330 of the selected family nurse practitioners received the survey and 44 successfully completed it. The participants were primarily white females with master’s prepared FNPs. The vast majority of the responders indicated that on-site visits are an important method of evaluation when it comes to students.

They specifically outlined its importance in the evaluation of the abilities of the preceptor and effectiveness in guiding of their learning. The question about the suggested number of visits received a more diverse answer. The largest group indicated that one visit should be enough to evaluate the abilities of the student. However, a significant number of participants thought that two sites would be more appropriate. While the options for three and no visits received much less response, they were not left without attention. The most popular type of visit was the face-to-face site visit. More than half of the participants strongly preferred it. However, a more technological visit received only slightly less interest from the participants. Therefore, a visit through the use of a smartphone or tablet is also seen as satisfactory (Johnson, O’Brien, Emerson, & Reed, 2017). This study provides a rare perspective of student family nurse practitioners in the matters of their evaluation.

Evidence provided by the first article may be used to create further models for other diseases that FNPs need to treat with increased effectiveness. The evidence of the second article may be used to streamline the teaching process for FNPs, which should improve the speed and quality of implementation.

Expert Opinion Article

Lastly, an article by Dr. John Distler explores various aspects of the family nurse practitioner role. Distler begins the article with a review of statistics from 2013. He notes that the population of older Americans is growing, which coincides with a lessening number of medical students choosing to work in primary care. He believes that family nurse practitioners could be the solution to the issue of serving the newly injured in the current healthcare climate. Distler goes on to describe the definition of the family nurse practitioner, the requirements to becoming one, and the role that they play in the healthcare system. He states that the goals of the family nurse practitioner are to manage patients’ overall care, diagnose various conditions, prescribe medications, and provide patient education.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, this shortage may reach 45,000 primary physicians by the year 2020. Distler states that family nurse practitioners are qualified to perform from 60 to 80 percent of all primary and preventative care services. He suggests that this puts them into a critical role that could lessen the impact of the approaching shortage. Distler ends the article by considering the future of the specialization. He notes the overwhelmingly increasing demand for family nurse practitioners, with a projected 94% increase by the year 2025 (Distler, 2013). Family nurse practitioners are considered the fastest growing group of primary care providers, and its numbers could double by 2025. The evidence of this article can be used to create an action plan for future implementation for FNPs.


The advanced roles of nursing practice hold a great importance to the health care as a whole. A family nurse practitioner is one of such specializations. The presented articles cover three aspects of this advanced role: the work of family nurse practitioners, their education, and their importance. It is considered to be one of the most important positions among nurse practitioners and the statistics suggest that it will only become more important with time.


Distler, J. (2013). The role of the family nurse practitioner. Web.

Johnson, R., O’Brien, T., Emerson, S., & Reed, L. (2017). Perceptions of family nurse practitioner clinical preceptors about usefulness of onsite clinical site visits. Nurse Educator, 42(1), 51-54.

Melaku-Abbera, H., & Smith, D. (2017). Evaluation of a family nurse practitioner‒led Individualized Diabetes Care Model in a primary care. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 13(3), 143-146.

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