The role of family nurse practitioners within multidisciplinary teams

The role of family nurse practitioners within multidisciplinary teams

The current shortage of medical professionals in today’s healthcare system requires that registered nurses train to take on the role of primary care practitioners when the need arises. Family nurse practitioners (FNPs) fill this role in a variety of diverse and interesting ways. FNPs can be found in doctor’s consulting rooms, hospitals and clinics, nursing homes for the elderly or mentally disabled and community-based medical centers, where they examine patients, prescribe medications, order tests, and analyze the results.

By the very nature of their profession, family nurse practitioners gain a vast amount of experience in many areas of healthcare, from childhood diseases to multiple chronic illnesses in elderly patients and everything in between. FNPs are registered nurses who have earned a postgraduate degree, are qualified as nurse practitioners, and specialize in family care. Once qualified, there are numerous specialties that a family nurse practitioner may pursue. Ongoing education is encouraged in the nursing profession and is a necessary part of the job if nurses are to keep up with the rapid changes in technology and medicine.

Patients often present with more than one health-related issue at a time, and the trend in healthcare facilities today is to assign a team of specialized practitioners to devise a treatment plan and provide interventions specific to the individual patient’s needs. As FNPs have a wide range of experience in numerous disciplines, they have the expertise to identify the interventions required, approach the relevant practitioners, and put together a team that will be responsible for the treatment of the patient. The FNP who is responsible for the patient interacts with the team members, makes appointments for patient visits, schedules tests and x-rays, sees to the administration of medicine and treatments, and records the decisions made by the various practitioners, test results and interventions carried out for the entire team. This information is made available to all members of the team in a form that is always accessible to everyone.

From the patient’s point of view, having a multidisciplinary team deliver a holistic solution improves their chances of a speedy and successful recovery.

One example of a successful multidisciplinary team is the utilization of physiotherapists and dieticians in a post-operation situation, improving the patient’s mobility and providing them with exercises and advice to support them through the recovery process.

Registered nurses with good interpersonal and leadership qualities are a great asset in clinical and community settings where they can interact with various medical professionals and work to achieve successful patient outcomes. The American International College’s Online MSN FNP program is an online option for registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree who wish to improve their career opportunities and enhance their job satisfaction. Designed for working nurses, this program combines 100% online coursework with clinical placements to prepare students to provide holistic care to families and patients of all ages. Some of the topics that students will study include primary care clinical management, advanced concepts of health assessment and advanced nursing.

The benefits of multidisciplinary teams

Various healthcare organizations are embracing the benefits of employing teams of medical staff to provide the most effective form of intervention for efficient patient care. Rather than trial and error, targeting specific ailments that a patient is experiencing with the expertise of a specialist saves time and improves the efficiency of resource usage. This translates into shorter hospital stays and reduces readmission rates.

Homes for the elderly

Possibly, one of the most prevalent requirements for multidisciplinary care is in homes for the elderly. Modern medicine and improved lifestyles have resulted in improved longevity, but this does not necessarily mean that elderly people lead healthy lives. Most people over the age of 60 suffer from at least one chronic ailment. FNPs in this setting put together a treatment plan for each patient, consult with the relevant specialists when necessary and often call on them in emergency situations. In addition to physicians, elderly patients often need the services of physiotherapists, counselors, dietitians and chiropodists.

Community nursing

Family nurse practitioners can make a substantial difference by working in community settings, particularly in underserved areas where there is a shortage of medical professionals. FNPs can set up healthcare clinics for the treatment of community members who are unable to afford proper medical care or in instances where long distances to the nearest hospital or clinic make travel difficult and impractical for minor health issues. In community clinic settings such as these, FNPs can treat patients on a primary care level in numerous states. In other states, they are required to work alongside a doctor. Having a team of medical practitioners whom the FNP can call on in cases of emergency or for advice would ensure fast and efficient treatment of the patient and could make the difference between a successful outcome or otherwise.

Maternity homes and childcare

FNPs in a maternity home setting consult with pregnant mothers and deal with any underlying conditions they may have. Collaboration with heart specialists, dietitians, pathologists, urologists and gynecologists is a normal occurrence in maternity settings. Once the baby is born, consultations with pediatricians are often required, and if the baby presents with problems, any number of multidisciplinary specialists may be called upon. While the mother and baby are still patients in the unit, the FNP responsible would need to coordinate visits, monitor the status of both patients, record methods of treatment and record the outcomes.

Research and data management

Research teams consisting of specialists from a broad range of disciplines work together to perform clinical studies. The FNP coordinates the team and schedules regular team meetings where members discuss their interventions and share information.

The gathering of data in a format that is conducive to accurate record-keeping is important for medical facilities and the patient. FNPs who display an interest in the data management and analytics side of healthcare may get involved in the specifications, development and testing of medical systems as they deal with data analysts and computer programmers. The FNP may also request input from various medical professionals during the design process of new systems. 


Joint efforts involving professionals from various disciplines speed up recovery rates and improve health outcomes. Team members learn from each other, build trusting relationships and work together for the good of their patients and medical organizations. Being a part of a successful medical team means greater job satisfaction for all concerned, as practitioners experience the effective outcomes that result from their combined efforts.