Working with children is a goal for many health professionals. Helping the youngest generation to grow and thrive is an especially rewarding area of healthcare.
Those interested in this specialty may have considered a role as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). This job puts nurses in daily contact with children and their parents or carers, allowing them to use their knowledge and put their clinical skills to the test.
This article explores the role of FNPs, with a special focus on understanding how they assess children’s health. This is an essential part of their remit and means they can offer the right treatment, tailored to the individual child. Furthermore, this article will also look at how nurses could qualify as an FNP to add another dimension to their career. Finally, it will cover more about this fascinating role and how it helps make a real difference to families’ lives.
What is an FNP?
FNPs are nurses educated to a high level, using their skills and experience to provide holistic healthcare to patients of all ages throughout the human lifespan, including children — mainly in primary care. They operate with autonomy and independence, examining patients, assessing their healthcare needs, carrying out and ordering tests, creating treatment plans, and prescribing medication. FNPs also have a focus on promoting health and wellbeing as well as preventing disease, for example by administering vaccines.
How do FNPs assess children’s health?
There are many ways in which FNPs assess children’s health, drawing on their vast knowledge and clinical experience to help their youngest patients. How they understand a child’s health status and make informed decisions about their care begins with taking baseline measurements.
An assessment of a child’s current health issue starts with a look at their baseline measurements. Part of the role of the FNP is to foster the good health of their patients. To help them understand a child’s health journey, they will routinely measure their height, weight, body mass index (BMI) and other vital signs such as heart rate and body temperature. These results serve as a baseline for comparison, helping FNPs to assess and diagnose a child in the future.
Medical history reviews
As part of a consultation with a child, an FNP will take a look back at their medical history to understand any ongoing issues or chronic conditions such as asthma or allergies. This practice can also help identify any signs or patterns that may explain their current health issue.
A physical examination is an essential part of assessing a child’s health. During an exam, an FNP will check their vital signs, including temperature, heart rate, and respiration rate, comparing them to baseline measurements. They will also examine inside their ears, nose, and mouth and press on their abdomen to feel their organs. FNPs may also look at any specific areas of concern, such as an area of pain or a rash.
FNPs may also order (and sometimes perform, depending on the FNP legislature in the state) diagnostic tests such as blood and tissue samples, X-rays, and ECGs. The particular tests they order will depend on the child’s symptoms.
Once these assessments have been completed, the FNP will use their analytical, critical, and creative thinking skills to reach a conclusion about their patient’s health status. If they have remaining questions or concerns, they will consult colleagues, refer the child to a specialist, or order further tests.
How to become an FNP
Without a doubt, working as an FNP is a valued and rewarding role. Those already practicing as a nurse and are thinking of a career as an FNP will know that this option is a very exciting possibility. To achieve this goal, they will need to complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree with an FNP specialty (MSN-FNP).
Those wondering how to do this as a practicing healthcare professional should know that many nurses are opting for online MSN FNP programs. Studying online gives extra flexibility. One such program is the online MSN-FNP course offered by the American International College. It is tailored to the working nurse and aims to expand on their skills to prepare them for a fulfilling career as an FNP. The coursework is 100% online and students can also gain hands-on experience in clinical rotations and through a three-day residency on this program. They will be supported to find suitable locations in their community and will be encouraged throughout the course by administrative and faculty staff.
Not only is this course a great way for dedicated professionals to study but it will also lead them to a long and rewarding career. Nurse practitioners secured second place in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Job rankings thanks to its competitive salary, projected growth, and future job prospects.
Helping the youngest in the community
Working with children and assessing their health status and needs is a gratifying role for any healthcare professional. The autonomy and independence that the role of FNPs brings make it even more attractive to many nurses, who see it as a long-term commitment offering job security and satisfaction.
Those who see themselves working as an FNP helping the youngest members of their community to lead healthy and active lives can take the first step today. To get started, they can check out the online MSN-FNP program offered by American International College — it’s a tried and tested route into this highly rewarding pathway and it will lead to a fulfilling and long-lived career.