Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Specialty Overview: Family Nurse Practitioner

By Molli Oldenburg, DNP, RN, FNP-C

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program prepares students for a comprehensive nurse practitioner role that includes critical thinking and independent decision-making in clinical practice, leadership, education, policy and consultation. 

An increasingly complex health care environment and a nationwide shortage of primary care providers means that nurse practitioners – especially doctorate-prepared nurse practitioners – are in high demand. DNPs have an important role in patient and professional advocacy and are vital for improving community health and patient outcomes.

The many DNP specialties empower nurses to help populations and solve problems they are passionate about. One of those specialties is the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). Family Nurse Practitioners deliver primary care across the lifespan, assessing and treating primary care problems of individuals and families. 

Below, our Family Nurse Practitioner Program Coordinator Molli Oldenburg, DNP, RN, FNP-C, provides an overview of the specialty, and discusses a common misconception about nurse practitioners.

Patient Populations

Family nurse practitioners can work in primary care with all ages from birth to death. Family nurse practitioners can also choose to practice in any specialty area they are trained in. I am currently working in oncology medicine specializing in hematology-oncology (which is a part of a leukemia team).

Practice Settings

Settings that you can work in are endless. Some of these include hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, primary care offices, schools, colleges, public health organizations and nursing homes. 

NYS Required Certification

You’re required to receive board certification with the ANCC American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). ANCC and AANP certification is renewed every five years. 

Where do you currently practice, and what does a typical practice day look like for you?

I’m currently practicing at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. I start work at 8 a.m. and typically end the day around 4:30-5 p.m. (sometimes later). I practice one day a week on Tuesdays and work full-time at UB as a faculty member the other four days. I work in an outpatient clinic setting where we see new patients for consultations of adult hematology-oncology. We also see established patients that are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment or long-term follow-up.

Autonomy in NYS

I can practice independently or open my own practice if I choose to. Nurse practitioners have full prescriptive authority.   

A Common Misconception about FNPs

A common misconception about FNPs is that they can only choose specialties within family primary care. FNPs are able to specialize outside of family care, in areas such as behavioral health, acute care, adult gerontology, oncology and more. For example, I am an FNP and am also certified in advanced oncology. 

A Common Misconception about NPs

A common misconception about nurse practitioners is that they do not have the same responsibilities as medical doctors. In 22 states and Washington D.C., nurse practitioners have full practice authority. This means that they can evaluate patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, create and manage treatment plans, and prescribe medications without physician oversight. 

Interested in becoming a doctorate-prepared family nurse practitioner?

Our Post-BS to DNP Program FNP specialty develops advanced practice nurses who can deliver compassionate primary care across the lifespan.  Visit our Post-BS to DNP program page to learn more about our program. 

Published November 29, 2022