Student + Faculty Chat: Online Post-Master’s Certificate in AGPCNP

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Preparing to become an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (AGPCNP) could be a rewarding step forward for your career. Just ask the program director of the online Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) program at Regis, Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste, MS, AGPCNP-BC and Shawn Norman, a remarkable current student in the online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing program.

Watch the video to find out about their journey’s toward becoming advanced practice nurses in the adult-gerontology primary care setting and to learn more about the online Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing program at Regis.

Students enrolled in the online Post-MSN Certificate NP program at Regis can benefit from:

  • 100% online coursework. Complete clinical hours in your area.
  • Flexible entry paths: Designed for MSN-prepared RNs and NPs
  • Complete in as few as 12-24 months
  • Qualify to sit for board certification exams
  • Transfer maximum credit hours

Watch the video below to learn more.


Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

Hello, my name is Deborah Jean-Baptiste and I’m the director of the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program at Regis College. It’s nice to be here to speak with you today. A little bit about me: I have been an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner for a little over six years. I earned a bachelor’s degree in cell and molecular biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. Then, I earned a master’s degree in an accelerated nurse practitioner program. Prior to starting at Regis, I have taught for many years in nursing. I started at Regis as an adjunct faculty in 2009 and then transitioned into this role in 2020. I started my career as a primary care nurse practitioner in the primary care setting and worked there for about two and a half years. Then, I worked in an occupational medicine setting for about 4 years. I currently work in a geriatric occupational health setting now, as well as my academic role here at Regis.

Here with me is Shawn, who is a current student in the online Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program. He’s currently in 664E and 664E-X, which is the first of the track-specific clinical courses: Primary Care of the Adult Gerontology Client, Part 1. Shawn is going to be speaking a bit about his experiences in the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program and will be sharing some firsthand details of online student life at Regis, plus some advice to help you excel in the program. Thanks for joining us today, Shawn.

Shawn Norman:

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here. It’s great to be a part of this initiative on educating future nurse practitioners. You know, what I’ve mostly enjoyed about the program so far in general is the collaboration among students, among the faculty and how they have supported myself and all students in this journey because I’m embarking on another journey where I independently will be practicing and making those independent decisions.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

Shawn, maybe you can share a little about your journey towards becoming an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner and the reasons why you decided to advance your nursing career by preparing to become an NP.

Shawn Norman:

I guess I can start with my education. I’ve been a registered nurse for 22 years. I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, I have a master’s degree in nursing, a master’s in health administration and I also have a doctorate degree in health administration as well. My primary experiences have been in emergency nursing and the intensive care unit. My current interest, well, I guess I would say that my interest moving forward, of course, is primary care and maybe some specialties working with rural communities, doing a lot of teaching with men specifically and how I would like to take a stance in being that advocate and talking to communities on how important health is. I advance my career to become a nurse practitioner because I see the aging population of my family and I think it’s very important for me to prepare myself and for me to be that advocate for communities that just really do not know the ins-and-outs of health care. And I think, no I don’t think, I know, that Regis College can do this because what drew me is because they represent this – What can I say, when I was reading up and doing my research on it – it was the Catholic traditions and the social justice that they represent on how they want students to reach out to their communities to give back.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

I can agree with many of your points, Shawn. I decided to pursue a career as an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner because I wanted to have autonomy in caring for my patients and to be able to make appropriate clinical decisions like performing exams, diagnosing, ordering, and interpreting diagnostics, writing prescriptions, making referrals, and directing their care appropriately and as you said, I wanted to promote primary prevention and keep people healthy in their communities. I started my career in primary care serving underserved patients. Many of the patients had not received appropriate healthcare for many years and were very ill. This created a steep learning curve but prepared me to meet the challenges I was faced with and allowed me to learn and grow as a nurse practitioner.

There are many reasons for students to advance their career by becoming a nurse practitioner. Becoming a nurse practitioner gives you more autonomy in caring for your patients. You have many options to choose from as far as where you want to work, your hours and the ability to specialize, if that’s what you’re interested in. You also have the ability to pursue more education with a terminal degree such as DNP or PhD degree, which allows you to conduct research, teach, and direct change in your discipline.

I wanted to talk about what specifically an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner is. These NPs care for patients who are ages 13 and above. This includes adolescent patients, adult, and geriatric patients. It is important to understand these populations come with their own challenges. Therefore, the certification provides the knowledge you need to care for these populations specifically. The Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner track differs from the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track, although the names are a little bit similar, in that it cares for patients with chronic diseases, as well as some acute conditions. It provides for a long-term relationship with the patients and focuses on disease management, disease prevention and health promotion.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the curriculum at Regis. Shawn, can you first tell us what skills and knowledge you were hoping to gain out of the program before you joined and what you’ve gained so far.

Shawn Norman:

I think you talked about the autonomy and I think it is very important for me to gain that skill in being comfortable and being able to practice independently and make those clinical decisions. I’m gaining that exposure and I’m gaining that skill but that’s specifically what I was looking for and I’m continuing to learn and to grow on that. The courses that I’ve taken from Pharmacology, to Advanced Health Assessment, to Pathophysiology – I have definitely learned and built upon those earlier courses for me to get to this stage of practicing independently. The clinical seminar courses, they’re very helpful in order for me to become independent because of the different Q&A sessions that you have within your clinical seminar courses, along with tying into when you go into the field and work in your clinical. I’ve placed myself in the position where now I’m able to learn from what I’ve been taught and now I can apply it to my current workplace, in my current work setting where now I’m involved. I may not be in clinical or in school, or in my current work setting, but now I’m able to work along with and talk to other NPs and they do Q&A about different disease processes and things with me because they know I’m in school. So all of this ties into an end result for my success.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

In addition to track-specific courses, this program offers classes in research, nursing theory, leadership, health policy, as well as the science in clinical courses that Shawn had mentioned. Also, we have classes in health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. This produces well-rounded students who are able to meet the challenges they face after graduation. In the track-specific courses, you are required to complete 600 clinical hours in order to graduate. Students precept in primary care settings, women’s health settings, and specialty settings. They complete the clinical hour requirement in 2 to 4 semesters and again, this is once the student reaches the specific track courses that they take towards the end of the program.

So, tell me Shawn, are there any aspects that you find challenging about the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program so far?

Shawn Norman:

One thing that sticks out to me specifically is…not specifically in the courses themselves, because with coursework, it will take some time for any student to learn the material, grasp it, study it, and apply it… My challenge was the time management piece, the work-life balance, and what I’ve done was I just took my schedule and allowed myself two days of rest and the other days, I allow myself 4 or 5 hours in putting that effort into my studies and then I map out what days I’m going to do clinical. And again, what we just talked about earlier, notice the common theme is you, the student. You are in control of this and that’s what the beauty about Regis College is. It’s so independent and it kind of teaches you to be very autonomous and carrying on further when you go into your clinical so, I try to put in at least 20 to 24 hours a week of school and clinical- well, school time work studies, so I can be successful.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

This program has a robust and challenging curriculum with the 600 hour requirement so you’re well-prepared and competent to sit for board certification. Certification requires 500 hours and other schools can require 700+ hours so Regis is right in the middle with our 600 hour requirement.

There are two organizations that offer certification as an adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. There is the ANCC, which is the American Nurses Credentialing Center and then the AANP which is the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. You can choose one of these organizations for your certification. Students are prepared to sit on their boards through the curriculum, specifically though clinical hours and materials gained in the clinical and track-specific courses they take at Regis.

Regis offers practice tests, as well as readiness exams that will help guide the student in areas they may need to focus on and this is built right into the courses.

Shawn Norman:

What I want to talk about is looking at what/how my current instructor, Professor Jean-Baptiste is doing for our educational journey, and that is caring for her students.  She also offers office hours, Zoom calls, live sessions, email, texting. I texted her on a few occasions and she provided some feedback to me. So, to get that intimacy, it’s just absolutely awesome.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

Thank you Shawn. It’s great to hear that you feel supported by the faculty because that’s certainly something that we strive for – To make all of our students feel supported throughout their journey. Can you tell me a little bit about your plans after graduation and your career plans? Maybe you can tell us about some of the workplace settings you’ve considered and what other future adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioners can expect to find themselves in?

Shawn Norman:

Sure, specialty care clinics, where they’re treating sexually transmitted infections, diabetic clinics, endocrinology clinics etc. I think it’s great for students to know that you do have options because this is what Regis College is preparing you for. When I finish college, I think of myself doing or practicing telemedicine because I like I said earlier, I really want to reach out to my community where there’s less than 10,000 people. You have to drive 2 hours to the nearest or hour-and-a-half to the nearest primary care center. They don’t have a lot of advanced nurse practitioners. They have probably… they just don’t have a lot of health care resources. I have to be – I want to be – the resource. So, that’s why I’m really focused on this nurse practitioner program, to learn as much as I can because I have to be and I want to be that voice for them. It is definitely a passion of mine because that’s my hometown. I grew up there and I want to be able to do that, even if it’s providing telemedicine services, which is as we’ve seen in the recent pandemic, there are many primary care providers. Then we’re talking about nurse practitioners as well. I have a nurse practitioner who is a primary care provider and who is my primary care provider so definitely, the sky’s the limit there and I’m excited for the opportunity.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

The great thing about adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioners is that there are many options in career choice and great earning potential. Adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioners can work in urgent care settings, outpatient specialty practices and of course, in primary care settings, just to name a few, like Shawn had mentioned as well. Many states are moving toward independent practice for nurse practitioners, meaning they will require no physician oversight. In many states, there are nurse practitioners who can already practice independently, and new states are being added. Specifically, in Massachusetts, where Regis is located, just became an independent practice state for NPs, which is very exciting. NPs have been working hard for years to gain independent practice in this state and this really illustrates the importance of NPs and the recognition of our skills and our knowledge and this also helps remove some barriers to care.

Before we wrap up Shawn, why would other aspiring adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioners join the online program at Regis?

Shawn Norman:

I have to go back to what I said earlier and what the mission for Regis College is, as well as looking at their values as a university, as a college. They hold Catholic intellectual traditions, they’re welcoming and want their students to be involved in their communities. As a witness to this, they have provided me with rigorous types of education to help me, to assist me, and being innovative in learning. For example, my professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste has us develop specific guides to help us learn the different diseases and how we maneuver through them. I think incorporating all of those things into the curriculum really shows that you are supported. They are supporting their mission and what they represent. They represent all of those things. And specifically, you’ll notice that I said “Catholic”. They want students to care for all God’s creations and I think that is what in a nutshell is the biggest thing that I can say about it: caring, being peaceful, love, hospitality. You see how all of those core values really fit and I looked at those core values and that’s what I’m about. I’m about every single one of those types of values that Regis College represents.

Each of the faculty members, from my experience, since day one have been very intimate with myself and with the group sessions that I’ve had with faculty members. They have been very collaborative and I think that’s very important. It’s so wonderful to hear how an instructor will take the time to hold the sessions with you even when we go over our timeframe, let’s say you have a 60-minute time frame. Sometimes, in our clinical sessions, our discussions get so interesting, where we’re discussing different cases. Not once does Deborah Jean-Baptiste say, “Oh, it’s time to go”. No. She continues on as long as the conversation takes, as we are talking about her clinical cases. She is on it so, it’s great.

All the students are engaged. Why are the students engaged? The students are engaged because of her, on her energy and what she gives when we’re receiving it. Because that is the truth. The energy that she gives the students, we receive that. I think it’s very flexible how Regis College has us do our course work online. We can do it day or night. You know, that is great in itself. We have very small classes and I think that we as students, and me as a student, find it very helpful and find it very… I wouldn’t say easy, but it does assist us in our journey to become adult primary care nurse practitioners for the future.

I just want to congratulate and thank Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste on all of her hard work and dedication from Advanced Health Assessment and from this course because I know I learned from her and I can say that and I can tell Regis College and I can tell students, I’ve learned from her and she gave me what I wanted.

Professor Deborah Jean-Baptiste:

Thank you, Shawn. It’s really great to hear that and this program is rather small, so it really is easy to make those connections with the students. Certainly, students connect with one another, but with the program being so small, I think it’s easier for students to kind of lean on each other and say, “Hey, what’s going on over here? What do you think about this?” and then it’s easier as a faculty member to also reach out to students and answer their questions quickly and clearly, and looking at things for them when needed. So again, I’m really glad that you’re feeling the support from the faculty.

And I wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences and wish you good luck in the program. Thank you to prospective students for watching. I encourage any student who is interested in the Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program to reach out to one of the advisors at Regis for more information and of course I’m always available to answer questions about this great program. Thank you.