Family Practice Nurses are nurses who work in family practice settings. They work collaboratively with family doctors, nurse practitioners and other members of the family practice team.

What do FPNs do?

Help manage health issues such as diabetes, asthma, COPD, high blood pressure, smoking,cholesterol and heart disease.

Provide well-baby visits and prenatal care.

Review and update medications.

Perform pap tests.

Provide teaching and support for healthy living. Topics could include healthy eating, physical activity, mental health, and sexual health.

Review and promote health screening.

Provide immunizations, injections, wound care, and more.

What are the benefits of having nurses in family practice?
  • Improved and more timely access to primary care
  • Physicians receive support with complex and time-consuming patients
  • Patients and families get more time with a health professional for education, guidance and counselling
  • Enhanced chronic disease management
  • Comprehensive preventive health maintenance screening
  • Support and promotion of healthy lifestyle behaviours
  • Improved screening, early detection and diagnosis
  • Access to two or more health-care providers with complementary strengths and perspectives
  • Comprehensive health records
  • More health care delivered in a cost-effective manner
  • Improved patient outcomes, which decreases costs to the health system in the future
  • Potentially reduced emergency department visits and hospital admissions
  • High career satisfaction for nurses due to greater independence, quality of team interactions and ability to achieve work-life balance
Is there an FPN course?

The Family Practice Nursing Education Program (FPNEP) is designed to prepare registered nurses to work in primary health care settings. The program is ten months in length, taking into consideration that many RNs enrolling into the course will have competing work and personal commitments. The program uses a competency-based methodology to achieve its performance–based certification.

Requirements for the FPNEP Program:

  • An active-practicing RN license with the CRNNS.
  • Support by an employer to attain the competencies to practice to optimal scope as a FPN. Support must include access to a primary care site to complete clinical experience.
  • Access/training in electronic medical records (EMR) if used in current practice setting.
  • Current Criminal Record Check with Vulnerable Sector Search may be required prior to clinical.
  • Current Immunization may be required prior to clinical.
  • Current BLS-C

The FPNEP Program is provide by the RNPDC (Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre).

For more information or if you have any questions about this course, please direct them to the RNPDC by following the link below:

My Typical Day - by Jill Morse FPN

I have 4 MD’s with whom I work with on a daily basis.  All have different approaches to patient care so I have learned to become flexible depending on which MD I’m working with.  The doctors value my assessment and opinion on varying aspects of care and are very happy to have me give all the baby needles and most of the gynecology screening to do.  

The day begins with a young lady looking for STI testing and birth control renewal.  This is simple enough for a Family Practice Nurse such as myself.  Swabs are easily obtained, discussion about birth control and various options reviewed.  Next I move on to a happy 2 month old who is receiving their first routine vaccinations, Mom is nervous but easily educated and reassured.  When I finish the vaccines I have a diabetic patient which needs his foot check and risk assessment completed, as well as various other health screens checked relevant to all those with diabetes.  A lady for a routine pap smear follows, she also has a UTI which must be assessed and then diagnosed by the physician I’m working with that day.  The list continues on with wart treatments, BP checks, more paps and birth control counseling.

Each office setting will be different depending on what the needs of the practice are.  We have been successfully providing care for the past 14 years with 2 RN’s and 5 MD’s.  

How do I find a practice? How are they paid? (unofficial info)

We get a lot of questions about this but cannot comment much on different approaches and business models officially. So, here’s a very unofficial summary explanation.

(Originally written for Physicians/Collaborators)

Pairing nurses with a collaborator and creating collaborative practices remains a challenge. Firstly it depends if you want to hire a nurse privately into your practice (you are the employer) or to become a collaborative practice in partnership with the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA is the nurse’s employer). In a private situation clinics often bill MSI for patients that the nurse has seen and the nurse’s salary is thus created in this way. However, MSI has strict rules on reimbursement for visits performed independently by nurses, often requiring the collaborating physician or NP to participate during the visit in some small way. Alternatively some nurse’s salaries are paid directly out of a clinics collective ‘overhead’. Finding a nurse ‘privately’ is a challenge because there is no official system of advertising these types of jobs. Some collaborators advertise through our association and we forward it to our members. Others use official employment websites where nursing jobs are frequently posted such as Careerbeacon.Com. ‘Word-of-mouth’ is how many ‘private’ nurses and collaborators have found each other.

NSHA and the Department of Health and Wellness are increasingly supporting/creating collaborative practices. To apply to become a collaborative practice, NSHA requires an expression of interest from the collaborator. If the practice is a successful applicant then a family practice nurse (or NP, social worker etc.) may potentially be funded as part of the new collaboration. This has the added benefit of allowing the nurse to work within a slightly larger scope of practice as more visits can be performed completely independently by the nurse when billings do NOT need to be recouped through MSI. For more information on this contact NSHA or click here.

Finding an experienced FPN may also be difficult. The use of FPNs remains relatively new in the province and there are very few experienced FPNs who are not already employed. There is a training course for nurses to become FPNs but for the most part the participants need already be paired with a clinic or collaborator.

Clear as mud? 🙂

The video below explains a bit about family practice nursing. It was made by our national association CFPNA.