Family Nurse Practitioner Programs Online: A Modern Solution for Upwardly Mobile Nurses

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The United States is one of many nations that currently face a troublesome nursing shortage which can be linked to the increasing size and age of the patient population, as well as a decrease in the number of qualified nurses entering the field. The constant increase in the general patient population creates higher demand for trained health care providers. Since many of these patients are elderly patients who require care more frequently, the demand for health care providers is becoming even greater.

One way to supply this demand for more nursing services is by expanding the capabilities of current nurse practitioners through modernized opportunities for nurse training and education, like nurse practitioner residencies that offer supervised primary care training and online family nurse practitioner programs, which allow registered nurses to complete an FNP degree without compromising their current paid positions.

Top Concerns for Students Pursuing Family Nurse Practitioner Programs Online
Quality Education
Before entering into an online family nurse practitioner program, many prospective students are concerned that they may be missing out on the quality of education offered through traditional classroom-based degree programs; this is not the case. For family nurse practitioners, online programs use a variety of web-based tools and applications to provide a highly interactive and personalized educational experience through structured curriculum that is designed in accordance to professional nursing education standards. Therefore, graduates will have been exposed to the same concepts as classroom-based students, just without the limitations of a strict classroom schedule.

Communication and Collaboration
Apart from the overall quality of the education, students are also sometimes concerned that their educational experience will be lacking the same interpersonal relationships that come with a classroom-based education. Much to the contrary, many online family nurse practitioner program participants commented that with today’s highly accessible online communication tools they always felt connected to their professors and academic peer groups. These connections are also consistently encouraged through the curriculum, as many of these online higher education programs incorporate group projects that require collaboration, as well as real-time group discussions that spark conversation amongst the students.

Consistent Support from Instructors
If some aspect of the course is unclear, students are also given the opportunity to request one-on-one phone/video meetings with their instructors, or simply present them questions via email. Christell O. Bray, the professor and coordinator of the on-campus and online family nurse practitioner programs at Texas A&M University, even stated that “students have more access to her online than they do face to face,”[2] showing that getting instructor support is just as possible for nursing students participating in online graduate programs.

A Residency Programs Can Maximize FNP Job Preparedness
Although the administration of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners declared that “NPs are prepared to provide safe, high quality patient care from the point of graduation.”[1] In a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) survey taken in 2004, 87% of 562 respondents mentioned that they would be interested in postgraduate training as 51% said they were at least “minimally” prepared for practice, while only 10% believed themselves to be “well” prepared for practice.[1] The idea that many graduated nurses do not feel equipped to perform well during the the initial stages of their professional careers grants credence to the idea that nursing residencies, following the completion of an online family nurse practitioner program, can be an essential opportunity to accelerate career growth. These residency programs offer family nurse practitioners additional “supervised practice” among other clinicians, helping them build confidence in their capabilities as primary care providers before fully starting their career.

Normally, these programs offer graduated nurse practitioners access to specialized rotations of assigned duties, including opportunities to work in primary care while supervised by experienced physicians and qualified nurse practitioners. The mentorship opportunities presented in residency strengthen the participant’s assessment and clinical skills through skill-based training, enhancing the graduate’s overall job readiness, allowing a smooth transition into a career as a competent nurse practitioner. Today, these residency (or fellowship) programs are becoming more commonplace with at least 28 of these programs existing in the U.S. as of August 2016, and national health care groups are still lobbying to gain increased federal funding to establish more of them.[2]

When coupled with well-structured supervised training opportunities, online family nurse practitioner programs can deliver a flexible educational experience that will enhance the nurse’s expertise just as well as—and sometimes better than—a traditional campus-based nursing degree program. Regis College offers graduate students the opportunity to build professional connections in the health care industry while receiving expert instruction on specialized practice within the nursing field through their accredited Master of Science in Nursing degree program.

At Regis College, the online family nurse practitioner program’s curriculum is developed with the aid of active nursing professionals, so the coursework reflects the practical skill-sets that are currently being sought by employers. This ensures that graduates will be academically qualified candidates for nursing opportunities across the nation, which are expected to grow by 31% between 2014 and 2024 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics[3].

Learn More

Family nurse practitioners play a major role in today’s health care field. The responsibilities of FNPs have evolved alongside that of physicians, which means additional opportunities, autonomy, and authority. At Regis College, our Master of Science in Nursing FNP online degree can help you develop the specialized skill set you need to practice at the advanced level.

Recommended Reading

The Importance of Health Promotion for Family Nurse Practitioners
Patient Education and Chronic Pain