Providing health education to adolescents as an FNP


A family nurse practitioner (FNP) plays one of the most vital roles in the healthcare industry. As a result of this and the benefits the career offers, it’s one of the medical careers that many people are considering starting. However, not everyone understands exactly what it is that they do. One of the aspects of this role that is sometimes overlooked is the important role they have in the health education of adolescents.

What is an FNP?

The best way to understand the role of an FNP is to consider that they provide primary healthcare to patients of all ages. It’s a highly varied role that covers many different aspects of caring for patients. FNPs work in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, community health centers, primary care clinics and anywhere else medical attention is given.

A nurse practitioner can carry out many of the same tasks as a primary care physician or family doctor and is often the first point of contact for families when dealing with health issues. This role has been around for more than half a century, but it is growing quickly right now, with new FNPs needed in many different settings, meaning that it’s a field that a lot of people are interested in joining.

The main duties of an FNP

As it’s such a highly varied job, it’s no surprise to see that a nurse practitioner can be asked to carry out many different tasks. Some of the main responsibilities an FNP may face include:

  • Carrying out physical examinations of patients as part of routine checks or when diagnosing and treating specific health problems.
  • Creating and implementing healthcare plans for patients who require them. This type of care plan can be developed for patients who need to manage an illness or condition.
  • Giving advice and counseling to help families live healthier lives and avoid illnesses in the future.
  • Prescribing medicine in full practice authority states and monitoring how the patient reacts to the prescribed medicine.
  • Collaborating with other healthcare providers. An FNP could work independently as the patient’s main care provider, but they might also work together with other professionals to fulfill the patient’s treatment plan.
  • Carrying out tests. This role also covers situations where a diagnostic test is needed to assess a patient’s situation. In this case, FNPs can perform the necessary tests or order the relevant tests to be completed by other professionals.
  • Offering preventive care. Helping the families they treat to stay healthy is another key aspect of an FNP’s career, as they offer the advice and treatment needed to reduce the likelihood of illness in the future.

This list of duties isn’t exhaustive by any means. An FNP’s daily workload depends on factors such as the makeup of their patient list, the area where they work and the state’s legislation regarding what tasks this role can complete independently.

Key benefits of becoming a family nurse practitioner

This is a sought-after role for many reasons. FNPs are currently in demand as more and more authorities and private clinics look for new nurses to fill this role. There are currently more than 210,000 family nurse practitioners working in the US, with high levels of demand in many states. It’s the kind of job that you can hope to make a long-term career from and there is also the possibility of specializing in a certain area of healthcare or medicine that interests you.

In terms of the salary on offer, an average of around $100,000 is commonly quoted in the US in 2024, which is higher than the average salary for all RNs. The exact amount varies from one location to another, but it certainly provides an attractive and rewarding career for someone who wants to look after others and earn a good salary while doing it.

However, perhaps the biggest benefit is the high level of job satisfaction that can come from looking after such a wide variety of patients at all stages of life and with varying needs. As the first point of contact in the community, an FNP gets the chance to feel that they’re helping the people who live there enjoy healthier lives while improving ease of access to healthcare.

It’s the sort of job where you can get the satisfaction that comes from helping people of all ages, but for many nurses, the chance to help adolescents live healthier lives and look forward to a better future is the greatest satisfaction they can gain.

Helping adolescents as an FNP

Adolescents require convenient access to comprehensive health education to help them understand how to take care of themselves and to put them on the path to avoid disease now as well as later in life. Young adults need age-appropriate information about their health and bodies, but many of them feel unable to speak about these issues with their parents or may not have anyone in their lives who can fulfill this role.

This is where FNPs can help, as the adolescents can reach out to them as their primary care provider. As the most accessible and convenient healthcare professionals in many neighborhoods, FNPs are often in touch with patients in this age group who need the right information provided to them in an appropriate way.

Eating well to support their growth, learning about sex education and understanding how their bodies are changing are some of the most important needs that an FNP can fulfill for adolescents. FNPs carrying out this role deal with patients from all age groups, but there’s no doubt that their ability to get information across to young adults is crucial.

For some younger patients, the idea of meeting an FNP and getting medical advice from them may be less daunting than the prospect of speaking to their family doctor. This becomes even more important when the nurse in question gains a reputation for being easy to deal with and skilled in speaking to adolescents.

How FNPs can help with mental health at this critical development stage

Mental health in adolescents is a serious subject, with the World Health Organization pointing out that one of every seven youngsters between the ages of ten and 19 suffers from some type of mental disorder. They list anxiety, depression and behavioral disorders as being among the biggest types of illness in people from this age group.

Tragically, the same report also points out that suicide is the fourth-biggest cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29. It’s also worth noting that any failure to address a young person’s mental health concerns at this stage can have a negative effect on the rest of their lives, making it far more difficult for them to have a fulfilling life and career.

The FNP’s full range of skills enables them to reach out and empathize with their younger patients, helping them to deal with any negative feelings they have. Listening to what they have to say and understanding how to help are important in making the patient feel at ease and working out a plan to help them.

The social aspect of adolescent healthcare

Failing to deal with an adolescent’s health concerns and needs at the appropriate time can lead to many problems later in life. This includes areas that impact just about every part of their lives, but it’s worth concentrating on the social aspect for a moment.
One of the most notable aspects of untreated mental health issues in young people is the social exclusion that may be attached. Adolescents who are socially excluded are also at greater risk of suffering mental health problems in the future.

It’s been noted that social exclusion is a major factor that can increase the risk of mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. As a result, finding ways to promote social inclusion can be effective in helping these people feel better. Naturally, FNPs need to be aware of the scope of practice in the state where they work, as this determines the extent of the mental healthcare aspects they can offer to patients of any age.

Who might be interested in becoming an FNP?

While we’ve been focusing on how FNPs can help adolescents at this crucial stage of their development, they also need to work with patients of all ages and from all types of backgrounds. This means that the role typically appeals to someone who likes working with people and finds it easy to relate to all sorts of people.

Transitioning into the role of an FNP could be an ideal career move for someone who is already working in the health industry and is now looking for a bigger challenge or a bigger salary. With so many FNPs working in the US currently, it’s clear that it’s an ideal job for many different types of people. Yet, by looking back at some of the key aspects of the role that we’ve mentioned earlier, it becomes more obvious what sort of personality and skills are needed to be an FNP. These include:

  • Communication skills are important. Being able to listen carefully and understand the patient’s concerns and complaints is vital, while these nurses also need to be able to explain what happens next and what they need the patient to do.
  • Empathy and compassion are other invaluable qualities that allow nurses to carry out their jobs to the highest standard.
  • Patience and enthusiasm are extremely important, as this job can be difficult and not every patient is easy to work with.
  • Time management matters too, as this can be an extremely busy role in which FNPs need to balance the importance of many different tasks and make time for dealing with all their patients.

These are just a few of the most important skills needed to work in this role, and having the right blend of them is going to make it a lot easier to carry it out to a high standard. For the next point, we need to consider the qualifications and studies that you need to carry out if you want to put those skills to good use.

How to become a family nurse practitioner

Not everyone takes the same route towards this role. We also need to consider the fact that some FNPs choose to specialize in a specific area, such as cardiac, dermatology or orthopedics. For this look at the details of the role, we’ll look at how nurses can meet the basic requirements to work as an FNP.

One of the simplest ways to enjoy the benefits of becoming a FNP is by taking an online course such as MSN-FNP through a reputable institution such as American International College (AIC). With 100% online coursework, working nurses can earn the master’s degree they need for to advance their career in as little as eight semesters. Meanwhile, someone who already holds a master’s degree in nursing can take an online post-master’s course to widen their career prospects.

FNPs generally need to have between six and eight years of training and education before they can work in this role. This compares favorably to the 11 years or so needed for a practicing physician, although we’ve seen that there are a lot of similarities between the roles.

Providing care for adolescents

This might not be the perfect role for everyone, but if you want to make a difference in the community while enjoying a rewarding career, the family nurse practitioner role is a career worth considering. It requires years of dedication and a fairly long list of skills, but it’s relatively easy to get started with and the chance to truly make a difference in your community makes it worthwhile. Care needs to be adapted for adolescents and strong health education can ensure adolescent patients are healthy and informed about their wellbeing.