What Is an FNP Post-Master’s Certificate and Who Is It Right For?

FNP wearing PPE and performing a physical exam
FNP wearing PPE and performing a physical exam

Nursing professionals who hold master of science in nursing degrees and want to enhance their nursing education and career opportunities may find themselves asking: what is a post-master’s certificate (PMC)? What does it enable a nurse to do that their master’s degree does not already allow? How does a post-master’s certificate broaden a nurse’s scope of practice?

In this post, we’ll address those questions and more—including how PMCs prepare the advanced nurse, how nurses who have family nurse practitioner (FNP) post-master’s certificates differ from nurses with doctorates of nursing practice (DNP), and FNP-PMC program themes and outcomes.


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What Is a Post-Master’s Certificate?

A post-master’s certificate provides a nurse with an MSN the opportunity to hone specific areas of knowledge, expand their job opportunities, and grow their careers. For nurses whose MSNs are focused in management, education or healthcare administration, a family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate would help them become an advanced practice nurse (APRN) who provides primary care to families throughout the lifespan.

Nurses who have a master’s of science in nursing degree, such as advanced practice nursing practitioners (APRN) could pursue a family nurse practitioner certificate in order to broaden their scope of practice. For example, if an APRN has a certification in pediatrics or mental health, they could achieve a family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate and become eligible to provide primary care across the lifespan.


Is It Better to Get a Certificate or a Degree?

The answer depends upon what you’d like to achieve next in your vocation and what your long-term career goals are.

If you would like to achieve a terminal degree—meaning, the highest degree possible in your field—then a doctor of nursing practice degree may be the best fit. You may also want to pursue a DNP if you value independence and autonomy in your work life.

If your goal is to supplement or shift your current nursing knowledge and practice, then a family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate program will meet your needs. For example, if you are a pediatric nurse practitioner who would like to serve adult patients as well, an FNP certificate would broaden your practice scope, which increases your job opportunities and potentially raises your job satisfaction as you achieve the goal of providing care across the lifespan.


Are Postgraduate Certificates Worth It?

According to Get Educated, graduates of post-master’s certificate programs earn a higher income than their peers. A post-master’s certificate can equip students for national certification exams. Graduates of post-master’s certificate programs may experience higher rates of job satisfaction as their qualifications provide new pathways to previously unavailable career opportunities and positions.

When it comes to the family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate, advanced practice registered nurses who want to broaden their scopes of practice will find the certificate to be worth it as it empowers them to achieve their career goals. FNP certificate graduates will enjoy the work of providing comprehensive primary care for patients and families in such a way that makes a difference in the global community.


Who Is the Post-Master’s Certificate For?

The family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate is for individuals who hold a master’s degree in nursing. During their masters’ programs, these nurses may have specialized in a track like leadership, education or healthcare administration. Or, they may have chosen an advanced practice nursing track and now are practicing as nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse practitioners or certified registered nurse anesthetists.

ARPNs and MSN-degreed nurses who want to enhance their career opportunities and increase their knowledge will find that the family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate is designed exactly for them.

FNP Career Longevity


How Does the FNP-PMC Prepare the Advanced Nurse?

The FNP-PMC prepares the advanced nurse in several ways, including:

  • Teaching the essential primary care competencies for patients of all ages.
  • Broadening the scope of practice for APRNs who have specific certifications like pediatrics, mental health or adult/gerontology so that they can provide primary care across the lifespan.
  • Providing advanced clinical education and service-oriented learning experiences.


Why Should I Pursue a Post-Master’s Certificate?

If you already possess a master of science in nursing degree and feel ready to broaden your scope of practice and grow in advanced practice nursing, a post-master’s certificate is a great next step. In such a program, you will delve into:

  • Advanced practice nursing competencies: Examine the role of the advanced practice nurse and develop knowledge in topics such as pharmacology, pathology, and physiology.
  • Compassionate primary care of the family: Gain knowledge and critical thinking competencies to provide evidence-informed primary care for patients of all ages.
  • Critical thinking and research: Develop an analytical framework to facilitate evidence-informed practice and knowledge integration.

According to an article entitled “Theory of Nurse Practitioner Job Satisfaction” in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, “nurse practitioners are satisfied with independence, interdependence, quiet moments, and challenging work.” And the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses reported in “Nurse Practitioner Job Satisfaction and the Healthy Work Environment” that “a healthy work environment—one in which factors that positively influence job satisfaction are capitalized and negative factors are reduced—can increase job satisfaction and staff retention and can ultimately improve patient outcomes.”

Family nurse practitioners do not only broaden their scope of practice as it pertains to patient care. FNP certification also increases their ability to achieve positions of authority within healthcare organizations, working to improve job satisfaction for themselves and others.

FNP Critical Need


How Do PMCs Differ from DNPs?

While both post-master’s DNP certificates and doctor of nursing practice degrees equip nurses for advanced roles in nursing and medicine, they have important distinctions as well.

A post-master’s certificate exceeds the academic level of a master’s degree but does not reach as high as a doctoral degree. The DNP is a terminal degree—there is no higher degree in the field of nursing.

Students can typically complete a post-master’s certificate more quickly than a doctor of nursing practice degree program.


How are Post-Master’s Certificate Programs Accredited?

Nurses with master of science in nursing degrees who are ready to pursue a post-master’s certificate should only consider programs that are nationally accredited. While regional accrediting bodies exist, and programs that are only regionally accredited may be just as academically excellent as those nationally accredited, a certificate from a regionally accredited university can lead to problems for nurses if they move to different states.

The Commision on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is a nationally-recognized accrediting body that accredits post-master’s certificate programs, in addition to master of science in nursing and doctor of nursing practice degree programs. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) also accredits nursing programs.


What Are the Curriculum Components and Learning Outcomes for a Family Nurse Practitioner Post-Master’s Certificate?

The curriculum for a family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate program centers on training compassionate primary care providers for individuals and families through evidence-informed care. Students will learn from a curriculum that emphasizes critical thinking, engaging coursework, interactive lab experiences, and hands-on clinical skill-building. They will also develop a deeper understanding of the human experience and the needs of families and communities.

Program themes and outcomes include:

  • evidence-informed family practice
  • research and analysis
  • ethical leadership and advocacy


Evidence-Informed Family Practice

The curriculum guides students in applying advanced knowledge and critical thinking skills so that they can provide evidence-informed primary care for patients across the lifespan. Students will learn to consider families, communities and socioeconomic statuses of the patients they serve. Student experiences will include:

  • Translating theoretical knowledge from the sciences and humanities into the delivery of advanced nursing care to diverse populations.
  • Designing preventative clinical strategies to promote health and reduce the risk of disease and chronic illness.
  • Demonstrating advanced practice competencies in the delivery of safe, quality care to diverse populations.

FNP Autonomy


Research and Analysis

During their course of study, students will learn to develop an analytical framework to facilitate evidence-informed practice and knowledge integration by:

  • Integrating theory and evidence-informed practice principles to optimize patient care.
  • Incorporate informatics and health care technologies to deliver, coordinate and optimize health care.
  • Utilize organizational and systems leadership strategies to promote high quality and safe care to individuals, families, groups and communities.


Ethical Leadership and Advocacy

As students in the family nurse practitioner post-master’s certificate program, nurses will learn about ethical leadership and advocacy through discussing how to go about:

  • Applying principles of inter-professional collaboration to improve patient and population health outcomes.
  • Integrating professional and ethical standards in advanced nursing practice.
  • Analyzing the influence of health care policy development, regulation and finance on health care organizations and delivery systems.


What Are the Job Outlook and Salary Estimates for Family Nurse Practitioners?

According to U.S. News & World Report, nurse practitioner is the No. 4 Best Healthcare Job, No. 5 STEM Job, and No. 5 on the list of the Best Jobs Overall. Payscale reports that the average salary for a Family Nurse Practitioner is $95,311. U.S. News & World Report lists $107,030 as the median salary.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 45% growth rate for nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners through 2029. That’s over 10 times faster than the average rate of project job growth, which is 4%. The BLS also projects that there will be 24,200 openings for nurse practitioners each year.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing states that the “U.S. is projected to experience a shortage of Registered Nurses (RNs) that is expected to intensify as Baby Boomers age and the need for health care grows.” Nurses who achieve higher job satisfaction, increased role opportunities and a broader scope of practice are likely to stay in the nursing field longer, which will help address the nursing shortage.

FNP Higher Earning Potential


Next Steps Toward a PMC

You can advance to the next level of your nursing career with the online FNP Post Master’s Certificate (PMC–FNP) from Marymount University. Marymount University has been ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Nursing School: Master’s and Best Nursing School: DNP. Nursing graduates from Marymount University enjoy high passing rates—100% of 2019 graduates passed their FNP AANC and AANP certification exams on their first attempt.

The PMC–FNP program provides students with MSNs the opportunity to offer patient care at influential levels as primary care family nurse practitioners. The program requires a shorter time commitment than doctoral programs.

The low-residency component of the program is designed with the work-life balance of an MSN nurse in mind. Clinical placements and student support services help nurses enrolled in the PMC–FNP by providing regular check-ins to answer questions and see that they get all the tools they need to achieve success while working full-time.

Marymount University invites you to join our nursing education community known for academic and clinical excellence.

Advance to the next level of your nursing career with the online FNP Post-Master’s Certificate from Marymount University.


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