Before becoming a nurse, you have to decide on a path. Do you want to become an LPN and eventually train to become an RN? Are you more interested in pediatric nursing or are you thinking about becoming a travel nurse? Of course, the wonderful thing about the nursing career is that any decision you make today doesn’t have to be permanent. Many start off as CNAs, which are certified nursing assistants, then spend a couple of years working and going to school while obtaining valuable experience while on the job. One path that is not talked about enough is the journey to becoming a family nurse practitioner. These types of nurses turn up in medical practices of all kinds, often working closely with long-term patients. In addition to earning six figures on average, family nurse practitioners also have loads of scheduling freedom so that they can travel to destinations near and far.
How Realistic is it to Become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
While you can’t go straight from high school to a family nurse practitioner degree program, there is a bit of flexibility. First, you need to complete a four-year degree, preferably in an applied science or medical related discipline. This makes it possible for you to start off as an LPN or a CAN quite quickly. It is essential to get your ‘feet wet’ in the healthcare industry as soon as possible so you can make certain that this is what you want to do with your life. Taking care of patients and working in an environment where the stakes are high can be quite stressful, so you truly should have a passion for nursing in order to do well. Many family nurse practitioner degree courses take just under 36 months to complete. As a number of these courses are commonly offered online, it is not only a realistic goal for most students but also exceedingly obtainable.
What do You do While Training as a Family Nurse Practitioner?
For the most part, FNP courses are broken up into 16-week intervals. If you want to take some time off between course sections, you can, just be mindful not to lose any of the knowledge previously obtained. As classes are regularly completed online, family nurse practitioner hopefuls are free to work and take care of family obligations as they complete their degrees. A BSN to NP online course can help someone looking to eventually work shorter hours, find work at a family practice, or even become a consultant. Besides keeping your nose to the books, all family nurse practitioners are required to complete a residency on site at a local medical practice. During which, family nurse practitioner students will work with other medical staff to assist patients in real-life studies. There will be a head nurse that you report to, and you will also meet other students during your residency. This is one of the many reasons that prior training and experience is necessary for becoming a family nurse practitioner.
When do You Get to Enjoy the Perks?
Permanent employment comes quickly after graduation for most FNP degree graduates. Professionals in the medical industry have forecasted a projected nursing shortage for many, many years. In states such as Texas, officials fear that a nursing shortage could cause a medical crisis after a major catastrophe. Nurses employed in Texas typically enjoy higher salaries and better benefits packages. They are also more prone to work overtime, and it can be harder for them to schedule time off. Typically, a family nurse practitioner gets to enjoy the perks of the job as soon as their probationary period is over. Probation is the period of time that follows a new hire to ensure that they are a good fit. During which time, a new family nurse practitioner will be looked at closely for call-outs, arriving late at work, and general on the job performance. If you can get through the probationary period, you will have access to all of your benefits, which includes vacation and paid time off.
Planning Out Travels as a NP
Similar to doctors, family nurse practitioners are known to take weeks off from work in order to travel with their families, recover mentally, or simply to go on an adventure. A popular time of year to travel is during the summer when temperatures are a bit warmer and primary schools take extended breaks. FNPs plan out their travels largely according to the benefits available through their employer as well as according to the schedules of their co-workers. For instance, at a doctor’s office with two family nurse practitioners, the rule of thumb is that both cannot take extended vacations at the same time. You can work directly with your HR department to plan out your travels, talk to your co-workers, or simply schedule time off as far out as a year in advance. The longer that you stay employed at the same company, the more tenure you will receive. Basically, medical professionals with the highest levels of seniority get approved for extended vacations faster and are able to take off larger blocks of time.
What are Some of the Most Popular Travel Destinations for FNPs?
A family nurse practitioner earns a high enough income to realistically be able to afford a vacation home. And while properties in places like off the coast in Maryland and Florida are reasonably priced, medical professionals often choose to go abroad. Some popular choices include the Philippines, Taiwan, South Africa, and Spain. If you travel to the Philippines, one of the biggest expenses you will have are the airline tickets. This country sees travelers from all over the world, so it is very common to see medical professionals from other nations in shopping districts and at swanky hotels. Additionally, the Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, and Barbados are also popular travel spots for FNPs. In Haiti, there is a dire need for medical staff, so you can actually perform humanitarian work while you are also away on vacation.
What Restrictions on Travels Might a Family Nurse Practitioner Face?
Although family nurse practitioners are among the most highly paid and respected types of nurse in the healthcare industry, they do occasionally face barriers. First, your first few years working as an FNP will be a little challenging. In essence, you can expect to be seen and treated as the ‘new kid on the block.’ You won’t have much tenure and you will still be spending lots of time learning on the job. Senior level nurses might get to choose their vacation time first, leaving you to only be able to travel in the fall or winter. Additionally, new hire family nurse practitioners also will not have as much vacation time made available to them. During your first couple of years you might only get a week or two of paid vacation time off as opposed to a family nurse practitioner who has been working in the same position for five plus years and receives four or more weeks of paid vacation. During peak periods, or in case of a healthcare related emergency, you might also need to cancel or delay your slotted vacation.
Considering Immunizations and Disease Exposure While Traveling
Not only is it smart to keep up to date on all immunizations before traveling internationally, in the case of healthcare professionals, it is also a must. Most state level nursing regulatory authorities keep a database of immunizations for all licensed practicing nurses. In order to keep working in the field, family nurse practitioners and other types of nurses need to go for yearly booster shots and submit documentation that proves that everything is up to date. In the case of international travel, additional immunizations can be required depending on where you want to go.
If your plan is to travel to countries such as Liberia or Sierra Leone, you are at increased risk of exposure to malaria. Though there is a vaccine for malaria going through the clinical trial stages in various African and Southeast Asian countries, it has not yet become available in the U.S. In any event, family nurse practitioners are free to travel where they want, but they also have to be quite mindful of what diseases and illnesses they could potentially expose their patients to upon return.
Being medical professionals, nurses have a duty to their patients. They may be best known for working in hospital emergency rooms, but that is not the only setting where they can find employment. Many times, patients meet with family nurse practitioners first at doctor’s visits. Patients relay any symptoms they are experiencing, list all medications they are currently taking, and recount all medical interventions taken since their last doctor’s appointment. These family nurse practitioners consult with licensed doctors to keep patients alive and healthy. And due to their dedication to health, hard work, and unwavering perseverance, they deserve to take vacations, go away on travels, and take time to themselves. Any nurse in the medical profession deserves as much, and family nurse practitioners most often have the freedom to do so.