Family Nurse Practitioner Certification Questions

Certified family nurse practitioners function much like family doctors and have almost as much clinical freedom in many states.
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Family nurse practitioners do many of the same things and have almost as much clinical freedom in many states as family doctors. For currently licensed and registered nurses who want more interesting or more challenging work (not to mention bigger paychecks), certification as an FNP is a career move that can open a great many doors. To become a family nurse practitioner, you'll need to meet both educational criteria and have clinical experience. You will also have to take a test.

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What Qualifications Do I Need?

To be certified as an FNP, you'll need an approved master's degree at minimum. You may already have this if you work in healthcare, or you may need to go back to school to earn this degree. In addition, you will need at least 500 hours of supervised clinical work in the field of family medicine.

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You'll also need to pass one of the national accreditation exams for this role. These are given by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Are you wondering which credential is preferred: AANP or ANCC? Both are equally recognized by entities like hospitals, Medicare state boards of nursing and corporations. If you're a new grad and need some guidance in making the choice, consider asking NPs and educators in your field whether one of the certifications is preferred.

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How Do I Apply for Certification?

Detailed instructions and application forms are available on the ANCC and AANP websites. In general, you'll be expected to provide a copy of your current RN license, official transcripts and other information from your degree program and documentation of your clinical experience, including the name of your preceptor.

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Make sure you fully understand what constitutes a "complete" application, and for AANP in particular, fill in all spaces on the application form with the actual information requested -- i.e., don't write "see resume."

What Are the Exams Like?

Both ANCC and AANP exams are computer-based multiple choice tests. The ANCC exam has 175 questions; the AANP exam has 150. Each question should take about 1 minute to answer, and each question is worth 1 point. AANP doesn't identify the sources for its exam questions, but those on the ANCC come mostly from major textbooks and other authoritative sources.

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Expect at least half of the ANCC exam to focus on assessing, diagnosing and managing illness. Composition of the AANP exam can be found on many websites, including that of the AANP Certification Board. The questions will include nearly equal questions in each of the following categories: assess, diagnose, plan and evaluate. All age groups will be covered. Expect to see diseases presented in classic textbook format, with no asymptomatic or borderline cases included.

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What Score Do I Need to Pass the Exam?

On the ANCC exam, you must score at least 350 points out of a possible 500. To pass the AANP exam, you need a score of at least 500 out of 800.

For ANCC, you'll receive a permission-to-retest application form in the mail if you. For AANP, you'll need to obtain 15 contact hours of continuing education specific to your "area of weakness."

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