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    FNP-c vs FNP-BC: Which Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Do I Need?

    According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), there are 290,000 nurse practitioners in the United States. Due to a nationwide physician shortage, nurse practitioners are filling healthcare gaps by increasing the number of providers available to patients, who otherwise may not have access to care. 

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    What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?

    Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are registered nurses with a specialized graduate education who provide primary health care services to people of all ages. With a specialization in all age groups, FNPs are in high demand. 65.4% of Nurse Practitioners in the U.S. hold a Family Nurse Practitioner certification.

    The nurse practitioner profession covers a variety of specialties, including:

    • Pediatrics
    • Women’s Health
    • Psychiatric and Mental Health
    • Family
    • Adult-Geriatric (gerontology)
    • Acute Care
    • Gerontology
    • Hospice and Palliative Care

    The family nurse practitioner specializes in family medicine, enabling them to treat people of all ages, from infants to geriatrics. Other specialties focus on specific age groups, a specific branch of healthcare, or setting. 

    All specialties of NPs require a graduate degree -- a master’s or doctorate --  in nursing. Typically, degree programs include courses that are common to all specialties. Additionally, students choose a specialty and complete extra courses specific to that area of interest. FNP programs include at least 500 hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours--required for certification after graduation.

    Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

    Upon graduation, family nurse practitioner students are awarded the credentials FNP. But before being allowed to practice, FNPs MUST be certified. Depending on the state nursing board, certification must come from either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) or the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). 

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    What’s The Difference Between FNP-C and FNP-BC?

    The main difference is the certification board. 

    • The ANCC’s (FNP-BC) certification exam has 175 questions, and the AANP (FNP-C) is 150 questions.  
    • FNP-BC has an emphasis on policy, advanced, research, and nursing theory.
    • FNP-C focuses more on the clinical aspect to include assessment, diagnosis, plan, and evaluation. 

    The big takeaway? 

    The FNP-BC usually has more questions focused on professional issues like healthcare policy and ethics. So, if you wish to go into academia, this may be your preferred certification. Whereas, clinicians may prefer the FNP-C certification. 

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    Certification Through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC)

    Certification: Family Nurse Practitioner- Board Certified (FNP-BC)


    • Non-member- $395
    • American Nurses Association member- $295
    • American Association of Nurse Practitioners member- $340
    • American Association of Nurse Practitioners student member- $290

    Eligibility requirements include:

    • Hold current, active RN license in a state or territory of the United States or hold the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another country.
    • Be a graduate of an accredited master’s, post-graduate, or doctoral family nurse practitioner program
    • Schools must be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
    • A minimum of 500 faculty-supervised clinical hours must be included in the family nurse practitioner program

    Certification Through the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

    Certification: Family Nurse Practitioner- Certified (FNP-C)


    • AANP Members $240
    • Non-Members $315

    Eligibility requirements include

    • Hold a current, valid U.S. or Canadian RN license
    • Be a graduate of an accredited master's, post-graduate, or doctoral nurse practitioner program
    • Schools must be accredited by an independent national nursing organization recognized by
    • the U.S. Department of Education such as the CCNE or ACEN
    • Successful completion of the APRN core courses (advanced physical assessment, advanced pharmacology, and advanced pathophysiology
    • Complete a minimum of 500 clinical hours of faculty-supervised clinical hours

    Why Do I Need Certification?

    As previously stated, unless certified, FNPs can not practice. Additionally, certification indicates that you have met specific educational requirements and maintain continued competence in the profession. 

    Other Nurse Certifications

    Advanced Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse

    Advanced Certified Hyperbaric Registered Nurse

    Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist - Board Certified

    AIDS Certified Registered Nurse

    Blood and Marrow Transplant Certified Nurse

    Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia nurse

    Certified Nursing Educator

    Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist

    Holistic Nurse-Board Certified

    Health and Wellness Nurse Coach-Board Certified

    Legal Nurse Consultant

    National Certified School Nurse

    Pediatric Clinical Nurse Specialist

    Oncology Certified Nurse

    SANE-A: Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Adult/Adolescent

    SANE-P: Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Pediatric

    Trauma Certified Registered Nurse

    Wound Care Nurse Certification

    Where Can I Learn More About Family Nurse Practitioners? 


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    Portia Wofford is a nurse, copywriter, content strategist, and nurse consultant. Chosen as a brand ambassador or collaborative partner for various organizations, Wofford strives to empower nurses by offering nurses resources for development--while helping healthcare organizations and entrepreneurs create engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for her latest. 

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