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The Differences Between Registered Nurses and Family Nurse Practitioners



Registered Nurses and Family Nurse Practitioners

The primary responsibility of nurses is to give their patients the best possible care. However, where Registered Nurses (RN) and Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) hold comparable positions and play similar roles, their responsibilities, qualifications, and salaries differ significantly.

Who is an RN?

An RN is a healthcare practitioner who performs a variety of tasks that ultimately support the requirements and care of their patients. To offer this care, RNs collaborate closely with physicians, surgeons, physiologists, and other nurses. They are frequently the first healthcare providers a patient meets.

RNs support the administrative team by creating and maintaining patient health records in addition to aiding with medical operations. They assist patients in handling their therapy and understanding it. However, RNs are not permitted to provide test orders or prescriptions for medications despite having a considerable effect on patient care.

Who is an FNP?

An FNP is an expert in medicine who offers general healthcare to people of all ages. An individual can receive care from an FNP throughout their lifespan. They are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) who specialize in providing care for families. FNPs may operate alone or with other medical specialists like physicians in places including healthcare facilities, clinics, educational institutions, private residences, and hospitals. FNPs frequently concentrate on preventative healthcare and can provide treatment for both adults and children over the long term.

Why further education to become an FNP is a good opportunity

If a nurse must select between being an RN and a nurse practitioner, then the latter is a great option. FNPs, or nurse practitioners in general, earn well and can make decisions with complete autonomy. This is of great importance for many nurses because it gives them more opportunities to grow and pursue the nursing career they have worked hard for.

The need and role of FNPs have grown rapidly in the last decade, and it is a pathway that enables nurses to pursue a career outside of a conventional clinical setting. Anyone who wants to take their nursing career one step further and become a trained FNP can explore the online MSN FNP program by the American International College. This course is taught completely online and trains RNs to become competent FNPs. The prerequisites for this course include an RN license and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. As the course is specifically designed for working nurses, the curriculum and coursework can fit around the job role and even includes a time-saving clinical placement service.

RNs vs FNPs

RNs and FNPs both possess medical training. However, there are some differences in their job duties, qualifications, and compensation. The following are some critical distinctions between RNs and FNPs.


An RN’s duties may change based on the needs of patients and the clinical environment they operate in. RNs typically learn to collaborate closely with physicians, medical professionals, and other healthcare professionals to offer assistance. They are responsible for taking patient vitals as well as documenting and updating patient healthcare records. They examine patients physically and analyze the findings.

Moreover, RNs educate patients on the recommended course of therapy and self-care. They administer medication and carry out diagnostic procedures by following the doctor’s prescription. They also take care of maintaining a clean and secure working environment. Additionally, RNs give individuals and their relatives psychological support. Their day-to-day role heavily involves helping medical professionals with everyday operations.

In contrast, an FNP’s primary responsibilities include conducting physical examinations, reading through medical records, ordering and evaluating diagnostic tests and procedures, making diagnoses, and creating therapeutic strategies for various conditions. Additionally, an FNP instructs individuals on how to prevent illnesses, enhance their life, and promote health. Moreover, they play a significant role in the healthcare system, offering essential services to individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. Due to their advanced qualification, they do not need to work under a doctor’s direction as they have complete practice power.

Work environment

A wider range of job environments is typically available to RNs, who are usually employed in operating rooms, nursing homes, clinics, doctor’s offices, hospitals, home healthcare facilities, hospice institutions, and educational institutions.

FNPs also have a diverse work environment as they can choose the setting they wish to work in. They work in both public and private sectors, including clinics, hospitals, hospice centers, private practices, and education institutes. Many healthcare organizations are hiring FNPs because they can do most of the duties normally performed by a physician. As a result, there is a greater possibility that they will work in a clinical setting compared to RNs.


The mean salary for an RN is around $81,000 per year or $39 per hour, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Meanwhile, the minimal median salary for an NP is about $125,900 per annum or $61 per hour. This varies depending on the state and the hiring organization, as well as the nurse’s experience and expertise.


The minimum education required to become an RN is completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and clinical training. To obtain a license and practice nursing lawfully, nurses must pass the license exam. On the other hand, to become an FNP, the nurse must complete a master’s or PhD in a nursing program after becoming an RN. Nurses must attain state certification before beginning employment as an FNP.

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