How Family Nurse Practitioners with a DNP Degree Empower Patients and Families

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Future family nurse practitioners (FNPs) may find it exhilarating that the medical field is transitioning toward patient- and family-centered care (PFCC). [1] The construct builds on the basic needs of patients and their families, which includes information, emotional support, and togetherness. PFCC aids nurses in building rapport with patients and their families, which in turn encourages all stakeholders to participate in the treatment plan. The philosophy revolves around the tenets of respect, information sharing, collaboration, and participation.

A Closer Look at Patient- and Family-Centered Care

PFCC reshapes the care-providing relationship by including all appropriate stakeholders in treatment during all stages of the plan. [2] With patient and family-centered care, providers, patients, and family members partner in planning, delivering, and evaluating treatments. Furthermore, the patients decide who can participate and how much those individuals can influence the decision-making process. Ultimately, the primary goal of PFCC is to promote the well being of patients and their families so that they maintain appropriate control of the treatment process.

Family nurse practitioners who implement PFCC treat patients and their families with dignity and respect by incorporating cultural and familial values into the healing process. FNPs also share information liberally, yet professionally and appropriately, with all relevant stakeholders. As a result, patients and their family members have time to evaluate important treatment details and make informed decisions that help care providers deliver positive health outcomes.

Patient and family participation is vital to the success of treatments delivered using the PFCC philosophy. These stakeholders must proactively engage nurse practitioners so they can deliver treatment effectively and in a way that results in a positive patient experience. To further facilitate these outcomes, health care organizations that promote PFCC include community members in policy- and decision-making.

The PFCC Trend Continues as More FNPs Enter Practice

The growing FNP pool coincides with a general shift from theoretical to clinical pursuit of doctoral training by registered nurses as encouraged by national health care associations. [3] Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) curricula have evolved tremendously over the last two decades. Academia and nursing field advocates now recognize the need for registered nurses to pursue clinical rather than theoretical DNP accreditation to meet the population’s growing treatment demands.

Theoretical DNP curricula typically involve an extensive course of research that culminates in a dissertation or published research paper, while clinical programs immerse practitioners deep in intense experiences. Clinical training, however, commonly concludes with a project where near graduates showcase the clinical skills they’ve learned. Clinical DNP programs now prepare nurse practitioners for advanced nursing practice with a heavy emphasis on innovative, evidence-based research.

Meeting Population Health Care Demands
Between 2015 and 2016, around 23,000 nurse practitioners advanced through training per the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). [4] Nearly 98 percent of those candidates earned graduate degrees, and almost 90 percent earned accreditation in a primary care specialty. Today, over 75 percent of all nurse practitioners deliver primary treatment to Medicare and Medicaid holders. However, the most notable registered nursing statistic is that over 62 percent of nurse practitioners delivered service as family nurse practitioners, exceeding all other disciplines by a disproportionate number.

Roles and Responsibilities of Family Nurse Practitioners

Family nurse practitioners possess expertise in anatomy, physiology, and other medical bodies of knowledge. [5] They fulfill several primary care duties, such as acquiring patient information that may relate to details such as physical condition, financial status, environmental conditions, familial relationships, military service, and occupational history. FNPs also diagnose conditions and formulate treatment plans that lead patients toward recovery. The plans incorporate variables such as the patient’s age, cost-effectiveness, cultural influences, and potential added health complications. Family nurse practitioners also monitor treatment outcomes by surveying former patrons and collecting additional information when possible.

Pursing a Higher Level of Care

The AACN’s Position Statement on the Practice of Doctorate Nursing sets forth that advanced nursing training produces several benefits. [3] The programs support the development of advanced competencies that are needed by contemporary care providers and improve population health outcomes, organizational leadership skills, and the entire nursing profession.

Doctor of Nursing Practice curricula deliver specialized training specifically designed to produce graduates who serve as primary care providers. The course provides training and accreditation for nurse practitioners who need advanced clinical knowledge rather than advanced medical research. Moreover, Doctor of Nursing Practice programs lure candidates from inside and outside of the nursing field, a benefit that helps to decrease the gap in practitioner talent.

Nurse practitioners are also the population’s voice regarding emerging health care policies. The expertise and experience held by NPs and FNPs qualify them to speak on behalf of communities regarding organizational and legislative health care policy making. As a result, the health needs of the American population demand that qualified nursing experts understand both personal and cultural requirements on behalf of patients now and in the future.

Learn More

Health care is seeing an industry-wide demand for advanced practice nurses trained at the doctoral level due to the changing landscape, drive for improved patient outcomes, and a shortage of qualified nurses. If you’re an RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and ready to take your career to a higher level, the Regis College’s BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice online program can prepare you for advanced nursing practice.


[1] Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses (AMSN)
[2] Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC)
[3] American Association of Colleges of Nursing
[4] American Association of Nurse Practitioners
[5] American Association of Nurse Practitioners – Certification Board