Family nurse practitioners are fortunate in that they focus on patients throughout the life span-from pediatrics to older adults as well as women's health. In school, students who choose the FNP track have more wiggle-room when it comes to further subspecializing as they have a broad range of knowledge from different age groups as well as health care foci (i.e. women's health).

One way FNPs can further their clinical skills is by choosing mentors in specialty areas while in school. All nurse practitioners must complete a set number of supervised clinical practice before graduating, and find a care area they are interested in (and applies to their specialty track) will help develop specialized skills.

Some schools even offer subspecialty education. For example, the University of South Alabama offers a cardiovascular subspecialty option for its DNP students. Columbia University offers NP students an Oncology subspecialty track. However, students should find out which tracks offer these courses- sometimes they are not open to those in the FNP track but in the adult/gerontology tracks. Students who are interested in a specific subspecialty should research schools to find out if a specific subspecialty track is offered.

Another way nurse practitioners can further their skills is through nurse practitioner fellowship and residency programs. These programs are relatively new but extremely beneficial for nurse practitioners who are interested in various clinical areas. The programs are usually run by healthcare organizations and include "extensions" of NP program specialties (listed above), but also include more specialized care areas such as:

  • Surgery
  • Endocrinology
  • Emergency medicine
  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Neurology
  • Cardiology

While it is fulfilling to be able to specialize in different care areas and have a wide array of career options, FNPs should be aware that each state is different in their licensing and credentialing. FNPs should review the state's scope of practice and certification regulations before pursuing specialty practice. However, in terms of education, FNP is the most flexible option when considering subspecializing.

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