The Family Nurse Practitioner curriculum provides a balance of theoretical and practical coursework that further develops the critical thinking and analytical skills needed in today’s competitive and evolving healthcare environments. Students are challenged through didactic coursework and collaborative interaction with faculty and fellow students to identify, develop, and enhance their understanding in traditional and cutting-edge nursing graduate courses relating to the challenges of care delivery in healthcare environments. Family Nurse Practitioner students are able to tailor learning to their long-term professional objectives and interests through selection of topics in course papers and projects while taking their core and specialty courses. The clinical practicum courses provide a unique opportunity to apply population-focused primary care. The capstone course specifically designed for the Family Nurse Practitioner students provides graduating students an intensive experience in critical analysis, designed to broaden perspectives and provide an opportunity for the integration of knowledge gained throughout the curriculum.
Curriculum tracks for the Family Nurse Practitioner program includes BSN-MSN and Accelerated RN-MSN. Regardless of track, all Family Nurse Practitioner students must complete the same MSN core courses and the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty courses and practica.
The program’s didactic courses are completed primarily via an asynchronous online format using the learning management system to provide a quality, rigorous, and yet flexible learning experience for a diverse student body that comprises both traditional and nontraditional students. Course delivery via an asynchronous online format provides flexibility accommodate the schedules of working nursing professionals. Course materials and assignments emphasize collaboration, critical thinking, research, and student accountability. Faculty incorporate interactive online learning activities including, but not limited to, required readings, asynchronous forum-based discussions, online patient case discussions, online quizzes and exams, and evidence-based reviews to develop critical thinking/reasoning and professional communication with peers and faculty. To prepare students for their future role, the program affords students the opportunity to develop professional competencies in practice settings aligned to the educational preparation.
Before being admitted to the Family Nurse Practitioner program, student applicants are required to identify potential practicum sites and preceptors in order to meet their practicum requirements. If a student wishes to complete clinical hours in a state other than where he/she resides and has a license, then the student must either get an RN license in the state for clinical rotations or provide an exemption provided by the State Board of Nursing.
Whenever necessary, the Nursing Online Administrative Coordinator will initiate and facilitate a new clinical affiliation agreement with organizations of student’s choice that meet requirements for practicum experiences. These are limited to practice sites in the U.S. and in states in which the institution is authorized to provide practicum experiences. Tennessee is a member of the NC-SARA and South College is a member institution. There are also other states that are not NC-SARA members in which South College may allow completion of the clinical practicum hours due to rules of these states.
Regardless of who identifies the clinical practice experience (student or faculty), the clinical practice experience must provide students the opportunity to integrate new knowledge into practice and be supervised and evaluated by faculty (CCNE, 2015). Additionally, the Family Nurse Practitioner faculty are responsible for assessing the appropriateness of the clinical practice experience, including preceptor qualifications, types, and number of patients, setting/resources, etc. In some instances, the Family Nurse Practitioner student may engage in a clinical experience at the student’s employing agency. However, if the students obtain clinical practice experiences at their workplace, such experiences cannot be “business as usual.” Rather, the experiences must provide the opportunity for students to integrate new knowledge into practice and the experiences must be appropriate to the expected student learning outcomes and program outcomes. As indicated previously, all clinical practice experience will be supervised and evaluated by faculty.
The program culminates with a Family Nurse Practitioner practicum and a scholarly capstone project which are designed to broaden students’ perspectives and provide an opportunity for the integration of knowledge gained throughout the curriculum.
PHILOSOPHY AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The nursing faculty at South College work to develop the FNP students to assume their future role as a Family Nurse Practitioner, which includes preventative healthcare, as well as the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of acute and chronic illness and preventative health care for individuals and families. We aim to prepare our FNP students to demonstrate a commitment to family–centered care and understand of the relevance of the family’s identified community in the delivery of care.
The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) have developed nationally recognized competencies for the educational preparation of nurse executives. The ANCC Family Nurse Practitioner board certification examination is a competency based examination that provides a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills of nurse practitioners. This certification aligns with the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education. Once exam takers complete eligibility requirements to take the certification examination and successfully pass the exam, they will be awarded the credential: Family Nurse Practitioner-Board Certified (FNP-BC). This credential is valid for five years. FNP-BCs can continue to use this credential by maintaining their license to practice and meeting the renewal requirements in place at the time of your certification renewal. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification accredits this FNP-BC certification. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board (AANPCB) also provides a valid and reliable program for entry-level nurse practitioners to recognize their education, knowledge and professional expertise, as well as a process for validation of an advanced practice nurse’s qualifications and knowledge for practice as a nurse practitioner. The AANPCB offers the FNP certification examination, which is an entry-level competency-based examination that tests clinical knowledge in family/individual across the life span (prenatal, pediatric, adolescent, adult, elderly, and frail elderly primary care).
The MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street, NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791, http://www.ccneaccreditation.org. This accreditation allows graduates from the program to sit for the associated certification exam.