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Future Trends for Family Nurse Practitioners

Healthcare has experienced an evolution over the last several years. At one point, there were distinct roles between doctors, nurses and supporting staff. Today, those roles have blurred slightly, and the positions share many responsibilities. While the expertise is mostly the same, terminology allows us to better define and understand each healthcare providers’ unique capabilities.

One aspect is certain: As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, family nurse practitioners (FNPs) are uniquely positioned to lead the way in ensuring that healthcare services keep pace with these changes.

The Northern Kentucky University (NKU) Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) – Family Nurse Practitioner online program prepares nursing professionals with master’s-level expertise and a focus on FNP responsibilities, which includes working with people of all ages.

Why Are Family Nurse Practitioners So Valuable?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nursing professionals, in general, is 40% through 2031.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), several significant factors will drive the demand for nurse practitioners in the coming years. These include:

  • increasing complexity of patient care
  • demographic shifts in the patient population
  • changes in healthcare policy
  • evolution of technology
  • growing recognition of the role of nurse practitioners in the provision of comprehensive, patient-centered care

Top Trends That Demand Awareness Among the Healthcare Community

The AANP’s projection aligns with future job trends for nurse practitioners — highlighted by HealtheCareers. First, an aging population, which requires increased healthcare services, translates to increased demand for FNPs. Furthermore, the continual shift towards preventive and patient-centered care places FNPs at the forefront of primary healthcare delivery.

Second, the adoption of telehealth services has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it a permanent part of healthcare delivery. FNPs are well suited for this digital health revolution, given their advanced training and holistic approach to patient care. Third, the projected shortage of physicians, especially in rural areas, is expected to open new opportunities for FNPs.

These trends dovetail with Becker’s Hospital Review’s prediction that nurse practitioners will play a significant role in the diagnostics and treatment of emerging diseases. FNPs, emphasizing comprehensive care, are equipped to manage complex conditions that may arise from new and emerging diseases. This broad-based approach to patient care will make FNPs indispensable in managing potential health crises and epidemics — such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, that’s just the beginning. Family nurse practitioners will also play an increasingly essential role in mental healthcare. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, there are 158 million Americans who reside in areas where there is a shortage of mental healthcare professionals. “Nurse practitioners are leading the charge to meet this demand for care and grow the mental health care workforce,” notes AANP President, Dr. April Kapu.

Furthermore, HealthLeaders Media points out another trend: the need for FNPs to play a greater role in policy development. As healthcare evolves, the perspective and expertise of FNPs will be invaluable in shaping health policies that ensure access to quality care for all, particularly the most vulnerable.

“It’s so important that NPs have a voice not only in their practice setting but that they have a voice in their healthcare system, in their state and on a federal level,” notes Dr. Kapu. “So, we encourage NPs to take leadership positions, certainly on boards, in health policy and health systems management. The perspective of the NP is very important.”

However, these emerging trends are not without extensive challenges. The rapid evolution of technology and increasing complexity of patient care necessitate that FNPs continue to advance their knowledge and skills. This means lifelong learning, active engagement with research and a commitment to adapt to new modes of healthcare delivery are crucial.

Are You Prepared to Meet These Needs?

A key part of the FNP evolution is reflected in the curriculum of Northern Kentucky University’s online MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner online program, designed to equip future FNPs with the knowledge and skills required to adapt to a dynamic healthcare environment.

Comprehensive coursework covers all stages of a patient’s life from pediatric, adolescent, adult and geriatric care. With this extensive foundation, FNPs can find their place in either specialty positions or more general primary care roles. Students can complete the program in as few as 24 months. Multiple start dates (six) allow for even greater flexibility.

Final Thoughts

The future of family nurse practitioners is bright and full of opportunities. Driven by factors such as demographic shifts, changes in healthcare policy, advancements in technology and an emphasis on preventive and patient-centered care, FNPs are poised to play a more prominent role in healthcare delivery. However, to make the most of these opportunities, FNPs must continue to adapt, learn and grow, ensuring they can provide their patients with the highest quality of care — now and in the future.

Learn more about Northern Kentucky University’s online MSN-FNP program.

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