Value

Georgetown University offers the best online masters degree in nurse practitioner program in terms of value. According to Payscale.com’s 2012 ROI Report, the school’s masters degree in nursing offered an 8.9% annual ROI (Return on Investment) for students with no financial aid. This percentage rose to 11.4% for students with financial aid. In 2015, median early career alumni salary was $59,700 while the median mid-career alumni pay stood at $101,000. These figures clearly show that Georgetown University’s online graduate nursing program has some of the highest early career and mid-career alumni salaries. Sitting pretty in the top 50 best value national universities based on the 2016 U.S. News&World Report Best Colleges Rankings, a nursing degree from Georgetown University has a higher market value and more lucrative opportunities than pretty much anywhere else. Majority of Georgetown University graduates are usually employed shortly after graduating, and many of them find jobs in fields that are relevant to their career goals.

Technology Support

Walden University has, without a doubt, the best online masters degree in nurse practitioner course when it comes to technology support. The school maintains the highest quality and most current technologies, which enhances technology support and course delivery. Through the university’s convenient online student portal myWalden, students can access course information, online classes, course syllabi, chat rooms, registration and financial records, online tools to update student information, as well as grades and academic records. In addition, students can use myWalden virtual learning system to talk to one of the academic advisors via online chat or submit requests to the Student Support. Also within the myWalden virtual learning platform is the online tracking system, through which students can view their requests in real time. The ability to connect with one of the university’s tech support representatives at any time means that students don’t have to waste their time dealing with those frustrating technical difficulties.

Financial Support

Saint Joseph’s College of Maine’s MSN program is arguably the best online masters degree in nurse practitioner course in terms of financial support. This private, nonprofit institution of higher learning is renowned for providing financial aid liberally. Currently, their website says that Fall 2016 applicants who attend or schedule a campus visit through the school’s admission by Feb 15, 2016, will receive a $1,000 Visit Scholarship! According to Collegecalc.org, 97% of students received grant aid in the academic year 2013-14. The total grant aid amount averaged $16,190. This just goes to show how the school is always willing to provide students with awesome financial aid opportunities. What’s more, Saint Joseph’s financial aid department is dedicated to helping graduate students maximize all of their financial aid opportunities. The financial aid office helps students understand the options available and the process of applying for Federal Stafford loans and utilizing their military benefits. Graduate nursing students in particular can apply for loans, grants and multiple endowed scholarships offered through the college. Last but not least, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine allows students to pay tuition in installments so they can spread out their costs over time.

Career Support

John Hopkins University is synonymous with excellence in Medicine, and their nursing school is not just one of the oldest but also has the best online masters degree in nurse practitioner when it comes to career support. John Hopkins University Career Research Center is dedicated to maximizing career opportunities for both JHU students and alumni. It provides a wealth of information and resources as well as career counseling, planning and development services for both students and alumni. These include resumes and cover letter writing guides with relevant samples, and useful tips for conducting long-distance job searches, succeeding in a nursing internship, and getting the most out of job fairs and networking opportunities. One of the best networking opportunities that students can take advantage of is the JHU School of Nursing career day, where representatives from over 100 health care organizations visit the school to give students advice, tips and even job offers. As well as job and internship opportunities on offer, JHU students have an online career management tool – “student career binder”, which allows them to keep track of the different jobs they’ve applied for, their networking contacts, and more.

Overview of Online Nurse Practitioner Programs

Online-Nurse-PractitionerA Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) online program for nurse practitioners usually takes two years to complete, but there are some programs that may require three years of study. Students interested in these programs must possess a bachelor’s degree in nursing or otherwise have a current RN license. They get to explore a number of advanced nursing skills topics such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, health assessment, and more. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) online degree program is meant for those with a master’s degree in the field, and requires approximately two years of study. Its curriculum provides education in evidence-based practice, systems leadership and quality improvement. Students in a DNP degree program complete elective courses and capstone experiences specifically tailored to their specialties, and they may also be required to write a thesis or complete a scholarly project.

Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Master’s Degrees

Online NP master’s degree programs prepare registered nurses to take on advanced practice roles in the field. Master’s degree programs for nurse practitioners usually emphasize leadership and organizational problem solving, as NPs often take leadership roles. They teach students how to work with licensed doctors to treat various health problems, and are offered with several concentration options, including: family nurse practitioner, nurse administrator, nurse educator, adult NP, and women’s health nurse practitioner. Specific topics of discussion in coursework include: differential diagnosis, human genetics, nursing leadership, case management and community health.

These programs are specifically designed to accommodate the busy schedules of working registered nurses and are, therefore, very flexible. As well as allowing students to access lectures online at their convenience, MSN distance learning programs allow nurses to complete required practicums in the health care facilities where they work. Some programs also allow students to interact online through web-based discussion boards. However, many of the fully online NP master’s degree programs require students to participate in week-long immersion on-campus sessions once per semester, which include face-to-face meetings with faculty and advisors, simulated nursing experiences and lab time. The curriculum explores the role of the nurse practitioner in advanced nursing practice, including professional and ethical responsibilities and advanced clinical practices. Some of the areas of focus include: health promotion and disease prevention, advanced practice nursing research methods, pharmacology, human physiology and pathophysiology.

Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Doctorate Degrees

Online NP doctorate degree programs are designed for those looking for a doctorate degree as a nurse practitioner. These post-master’s degree programs are particularly meant for nurse practitioners interested in taking on senior roles that involve designing and implementing health care programs or administrative duties. Students enrolled in these programs get the opportunity to learn how to formulate and manage health care programs, implement effective and efficient policies for care, and advocate for patients. Online NP doctorate degree programs also provide students with the advanced knowledge and skills they need to undertake healthcare management, foster patient relationships, develop appropriate therapeutic interventions, and assess and apply nursing theories. Online doctorate programs for nurse practitioners require the completion of a final evidence-based research project, which gives students the opportunity to design a practice- and evidence-based therapy to a real-world health care challenge. Some of the courses that can be found in the NP doctorate program for nurse practitioners include: nursing theory, health care informatics, advanced leadership and collaboration, health policy, epidemiology and ethical issues.

Online Nurse Practitioner (NP) Certificate Programs

Online NP graduate certificate programs are available to registered nurses who already hold master’s degrees and those nurses who are currently pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing, as well as licensed RNs who have a doctoral degree. These programs qualify students to take the national certification examination for nurse practitioners. Most of them are actually online post-masters family nurse practitioner (FNP) certificate programs, but there are also programs for those looking to enter other areas of specialization including: adult gerontology, leadership and management, women’s health nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, nurse educator and more.

Online NP certificate programs ranges from 26-50 credit hours and can be completed in 2-4 years. The exact amount of time it takes to complete the program depends on a student’s choice of mode of study, which can be full-time or part-time. These programs are typically very flexible, as they are designed with the schedule of a working RN in mind. Completely web-based programs are available; but, most programs have a hybrid curriculum in which attend on-campus sessions. Majority of the fully online NP certificate programs actually require some on-campus participation in student orientation session, advising and counseling, conferences and events. Students access lectures through an online course management system, which allows them to listen and watch live or recorded classes and utilize a variety of distance learning resources.

Accreditation for Nurse Practitioner

When choosing a nurse practitioner program, students should consider whether or not the school is accredited. This is actually the most important factor when selecting a school. Having accreditation means that the accrediting body or agency has visited the nursing school, reviewed coursework, faculty and facilities for quality standards, and given the institution a stamp of approval. Students should not pick a school based on recognition. Rather they should ensure that the program is fully approved and accredited. Accreditation process is more rigorous than recognition. A university or college may be recognized, but most employers will never accept an NP degree from a recognized institution that is not recognized.

Aside from employers, federal and state financial aid agencies don’t work with non-accredited schools to provide students with financial support. A school cannot receive state or federal financial aid resources if it’s not accredited by a recognized body. That means students who want to take advantage of federal and state financial aid must choose an accredited college. Not only that, nurse practitioner degrees from non-accredited institutions are not usually considered as valid. This means that if a student wants to transfer from the non-accredited institution to an accredited one or if a student wants to apply for a post-graduate program at an accredited school, all the work he or she did at the non-accredited school will not transfer. Often, non-accredited institutions won’t tell a potential student all this, and they might even lie outright to them.

Enrolling in an accredited nurse practitioner degree program allows students to take advantage of federally funded and state entitlement programs, quality to transfer to or attend other accredited institutions to pursue advanced studies, and become more competitive in the job market. Nurse practitioner master’s degree programs can be accredited by regional institutional accrediting organizations, such as SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), or by programmatic accrediting bodies, such as the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or the ACEN(Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing). The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education maintain databases of schools and programs that are accredited.

Accelerated Nurse Practitioner Programs

Accelerated master’s degree with a nurse practitioner concentration is a master’s degree program structured to be completed in a shorter time frame, typically within a year instead of 2-5 years for a traditional nurse practitioner master’s degree. This type of master’s degree program is offered through the same institutions that offer the traditional master’s degrees. In an accelerated program, classes are compressed and the courses are fewer. It is open to both non-nurses and current registered nurses, and allows them to earn the master’s degree in a much shorter time. Accelerated nurse practitioner programs are typically specialized. For example, a student enrolled in the program might focus on neonatal, psychiatric, pediatric, gerontological or family nursing.

Accelerated nurse practitioner programs for non-nurses typically take 2-3 years to complete. These master’s degree programs are open to students with an accredited Bachelor of Science and prerequisite courses like statistics, microbiology, anatomy, physiology and developmental psychology. After admission, students with a non-nurse baccalaureate degree spend one year completing a generalist component (BSN-level bridge coursework). Once they’ve completed this component, students are allowed to undertake the remaining 1-2 years of master’s-level nurse practitioner coursework.

Some of the courses covered in an accelerated NP degree program include:

  • Pharmacology: This course covers the therapeutic uses and effects of medications. Students get to learn about common drugs and explore the adverse effects of medications, as well as alternative treatments.
  • Pathophysiology: This course provides students with in-depth knowledge of diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, including identifying disease origination, development and signs and symptoms.
  • Roles and responsibilities: In this course, students explore the roles and responsibilities of the NP in augmenting health care and health care services, including role of NPs in interdisciplinary teams and health policy formulation.
  • Advanced assessment and diagnostic: This course teaches students to use their pharmacology, anatomy and physiology knowledge to assess and diagnose health issues.
  • Integrative practicum: The practicum provides students with the opportunity to practice the skills they’ve
    learned in didactic classes in clinical settings.

Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

Family nurse practitioners, or family nurses, are health care professionals who provide advanced nursing care to patients of all ages, from children to adolescents to the elderly. These advanced practice nurses have advanced nursing education, and perform duties similar to those executed by a physician. They work in family or general medical practice settings, with most of them employed in hospitals where they provide nursing care and perform a variety of duties, including making assessments and diagnoses, conducting examinations, ordering or performing diagnostic tests, carrying out minor surgical procedures, providing medical treatment and prescribing medications, under the supervision of doctors.

Individuals interested in becoming a family nurse practitioner must first complete a Master of Science in Nursing degree program. Before enrolling in a master’s degree in nursing, aspiring nurse practitioners must earn a RN license – which can be obtained by earning a nursing diploma or an Associate of Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing and passing the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. In a family nurse practitioner graduate program, students learn about providing nursing care to both chronically ill and at-risk patients as well as their families. The curriculum includes in-depth instruction on areas such as diagnosing and treating different illnesses, prenatal care, and clinical decision making. Students also get the opportunity to take part in clinical research projects.

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