Aspiring family nurse practitioners have to complete a graduate program, either a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice program, with Family Nurse Practice Concentration. The good news is that aside from on-campus programs, there are also online programs available for them.
Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs
Online graduate programs for nurse practitioners allow students to take their classes online, although they might be required to complete in-person clinical practicum based on their educational background.
Licensed registered nurses can choose to complete either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with concentration on family nurse practice. Nurses who only hold a bachelor’s degree in nursing are required to render an on-site clinical practicum. This applies whether they are taking a master’s or doctoral degree. However, students enrolled in a doctoral program with a master’s degree can complete their program online.
The Master of Science in Nursing Program for family nurse practitioners teaches students how to diagnose, treat, and manage stable chronic conditions acute conditions that affect primary care patients. It enhances the students’ decision-making and critical thinking skills that they need to determine health risks and identify dysfunctional and functional health patterns in patients.
This graduate program is more focused on wellness and disease prevention, preparing the students for positions in education, nursing, and family practice administration. It does not include a thesis, but it does require students to complete a clinical practicum for one or two semesters. Typical subjects include advanced pathophysiology, health care policy, advanced health assessment, child and women’s health, health care for middle-aged and elderly adults, and advanced pharmacology.
On the other hand, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program can be completed full-time or part-time. Students with a bachelor’s degree still need to complete clinical experience requirements, while those with a master’s degree in nursing can finish the program 100% online. The doctoral program is more about improving the nurses’ patient management, research skills, and leadership skills. Typical study topics include advanced pharmacology, advanced pathopsychology, and advanced physical assessment.
Top Schools to Consider
Nurses aspiring to become family nurse practitioners may choose to complete their graduate program on-campus or online.
According to the US News & World Report, the top ten schools offering the top family nurse practitioner training include the University of Pennsylvania, University of California – San Francisco, John Hopkins University, University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, University of Maryland, University of Washington, Columbia University, Duke University, Vanderbilt University, and University of Illinois – Chicago.
As for registered nurses who want to pursue family nurse practitioner program online, they may want to consider taking it at the University of Cincinnati. The school offers a two-year distance learning program that must be completed full-time. Aside from the typical advanced nursing courses, students are also required to attend seminars about family nurse practitioner topics and complete clinical experience for at least 540 hours.
Another school worth considering is the Indiana State University. They offer a Master of Science in Nursing with concentration in family nurse practitioner, as well as nursing education and nursing administration and allow students to complete it 100% online. Their online coursework has 48 to 51 credit hours and it is up to the students to choose between a thesis and non-thesis project. The program also requires completion of clinical experience.
Other schools offering an online graduate program for family nurse practitioners include Georgetown University, Ohio State University, Duke University, and Simmons College.