The role of FNPs in diagnosing and treating children with chronic diseases

Diagnosing and treating chronic diseases is one of the many roles a nurse practitioner may play in medicine.

The diagnosis and treatment of children can present challenges for many reasons. This post will explore the challenges of diagnosing and treating children and the typical process for reaching a formal diagnosis and putting together a long-term treatment plan.

Initial exam

A well-child exam is a type of preventative care exam recommended for children of specific ages. The frequency of these exams varies based on the age of the child. These exams are physicals, where an FNP looks for potential problems and listens to parents’ concerns. When a child is old enough, they may play a more significant role in describing their symptoms and problems, if any.

In between well-child exams, a parent may request an appointment if their child is experiencing concerning symptoms.

An FNP will ask questions to get a better idea of what is going on. Vital signs, reflexes, etc. will all be checked for abnormalities. FNPs ask a variety of questions and may have parents fill out screener forms to determine if a child is reaching developmental milestones at the rate they should expect.

Further tests and screenings

Depending on the answers and the initial exam, tests and screenings will be ordered by the FNP. Blood tests and urine screens are two of the most likely samples to get a good idea of initial overall health. Other screenings and tests might also have to be taken care of by a specialist at this point or in the future, depending on how sure an FNP feels their initial diagnosis is accurate. It is important to remember that there are a lot of illnesses that have very similar or identical symptoms. Hence, diagnosis is sometimes more of a process of elimination than you might expect.

Testing can be particularly stressful for families, so it is good to offer as much emotional support and reassurance as possible. FNPs should help parents with strategies to reassure children and make the testing process as easy as possible.

Interpretation of test results and exams

An FNP will work with the test and exam results they get back and any results from the team of specialists they are working with to make a formal and definitive diagnosis.

A single round of testing is not always enough. Other tests may be necessary to have all the information needed to start down a path to management and treatment.

Parents and caregivers must have results explained to them in detail so there is no misunderstanding at a later point.

Test results may sound much worse to a parent than they actually are, so FNPs need to make sure that parents are clear on the actual reality rather than jumping to conclusions of their own based on fear.

Treatment options and education

Going over the treatment options and educating caregivers about a chronic condition is a step that requires a lot of thought and care. It can be a particularly overwhelming time. Parents are likely going to be quite tense and emotional.

Treatment options may involve a variety of methods and different specialists and physicians. The ultimate goal is to educate parents on whatever they can do to help alleviate the symptoms of a condition and make a better life for the child.

Medications and treatments must be explained, and all questions answered so the parent or caregiver feels in control and informed.

Sometimes, it can take some time for a parent or caregiver to come to terms with a formal diagnosis and what that means over the long term. FNPs need to be prepared for times when parents may not immediately agree to start a specific treatment or medication. They may require a bit of time to process what they have been told and talk it over with another parent or loved one.

Follow-up care

FNPs will provide follow-up check-ups and other preventative care appointments for the patient. Keeping up-to-date on any treatments provided by other doctors and specialists will be ongoing.

FNPs will monitor progress and be available if anything comes up that is concerning.

FNPs provide a wide range of care to children and parents alike

An FNP provides primary and preventative care visits to children and adults. They treat a variety of illnesses and injuries. In addition, they can refer patients to other healthcare providers, including counselors, therapists, and rehabilitation centers.

A career as a family nurse practitioner is an excellent choice if you have always wanted to help people get the health care they need to lead happy and productive lives. Carson-Newman University offers MSN-FNP degree programs that can be completed entirely online, except for your clinical placement and a few brief residencies. It allows those working as RNs to advance their careers. In fact, if you already hold an MSN degree, you can obtain your MSN-FNP degree in under 24 months.

Part of your degree program will involve clinical placements that give you the real work experience you need for your future career.


Diagnosing and creating treatment plans for children with chronic illnesses is emotionally difficult for everyone involved. Family nurse practitioners must be skilled at communicating difficult news to parents and caregivers. Emphasizing anything considered positive is important, even if the overall news is not. Some chronic conditions can be managed very well, and a child can go on to lead a happy and productive life with fewer problems than might be expected.

Family nurse practitioners are needed to help fill the care gaps in the modern medical system. Now is an excellent time to consider a career in healthcare.

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