An ever-growing primary care physician shortage is affecting health care organizations across the U.S. The deficit of general practitioners could grow to as much as 123,000 by 2030, according to analysts for the Association of American Medical Colleges published in 2018. Consequently, American care providers are working to pinpoint solutions.
Many institutions are turning to family nurse practitioners — nursing professionals who wield special clinical knowledge and advanced practice authority to perform primary care duties. Almost 150,000 are working in American health care organizations today, according to data from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners published in 2018. This figure is likely to rise over the next decade due to the overwhelming demand for FNPs. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics published in 2018 suggested that tens of thousands of new FNPs could enter clinics and hospitals between 2016 and 2026.
FNPs must obtain high-level credentials to effectively serve patients. This is why almost 98 percent of these advanced nursing professionals possess master’s degrees, according to data from the AANP published in 2018. Consequently, individuals looking to compete in the modern FNP recruitment environment are encouraged to complete an applicable graduate program.
There are numerous choices when it comes to FNP education, including Bradley University’s online Master of Science in Nursing — Family Nurse Practitioner program. The program consists of between 65 and 74 credit hours of instruction and as many as 800 clinical hours of practice, depending on whether students enter with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, associate degree or diploma in nursing.
Aspiring FNPs who enroll in the online MSN-FNP program at Bradley University, which U.S. News & World Report ranked among the top seven universities in the Midwest in 2018, can cultivate highly valuable skill sets that give them the power to deliver care independently and fill growing gaps in care access.
Here is what prospective students can expect should they decide to pursue the FNP track at Bradley:
Navigating the core curriculum
For those entering with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, the online MSN-FNP program at Bradley begins with a series of core courses covering a variety of essential topics. A number of these courses center on the role of hard data in modern health care, a particularly important issue in the era of patient-centered clinical operations. In Statistical Procedures, students explore health care data interpretation methodologies and delve into related issues such as control tendency, correlation and variability. This course also touches on predictive and inferential statistics, both of which leaders in the health care space believe will come to define data-based clinical operations in the years to come, according to 2017 data from the Medical Group Management Association, a nonprofit industry organization for health care administrators. Health Informatics covers similar territory, giving students a top-down view of how data is collected and deployed in health care. Key areas of interest include clinical information systems, productivity applications, data security and user privacy.
The program also offers courses that cover more wide-ranging health care issues, including the legal and ethical matters that often arise during the modern care delivery process. Students evaluate these variables in Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care, during which they evaluate the ethics of health care law and public policy. They also explore the smaller ethical issues that FNPs might face when navigating clinical workflows. Nursing Theories: Analysis and Development keeps students locked into on-the-ground care settings, but instead of tackling ethics, they address actionable strategies for working with patients and maneuvering through health care institutions. Evidence-Based Practice centers on content also tailored to on-the-ground operations but explores the process of collecting and using actionable clinical data to facilitate ideal patient outcomes.
While the above courses certainly help round out the skill sets of students enrolled in the online MSN-FNP at Bradley, they do not constitute the heart of the core curriculum. This is reserved for a series of courses that equip aspiring FNPs with the specialized nursing skills they need to excel in this unique role. Advanced Pathophysiology is the first in a number of foundational courses geared toward rising FNPs. This course helps students gain an in-depth understanding of the human body and advanced theories for assessing patient health at the organ system level.
The online MSN-FNP program also includes two Advanced Pharmacology courses, which are critical for FNPs working in the U.S., all of whom have prescriptive authority which varies in nature depending on the state in which the FNP resides. Professional Aspects of Advanced Nursing Practice gives students the opportunity to learn strategies for developing organizational systems and methodologies that support clinical care distribution. However, a series of five Principles of FNP Practice courses are perhaps the most consequential here. Each addresses a specific patient population, starting with two courses on adults dealing with acute or chronic conditions. The third addresses women’s health, while the fourth covers children and the fifth explores care strategies for the elderly.
Students entering the program with an associate degree or nursing diploma must take a few additional courses, including the Conceptual Basis for Professional Nursing, the Conceptual Basis for Professional Nursing Practices, Community Health Nursing Theory and RN-MSN Practicum.
Understanding clinical practicums
In addition to the core curriculum, students enrolled in the online MSN-FNP program at Bradley University must complete five preceptor-led clinical practicums, each of which counts for three credits. These hands-on learning experiences correlate to the Principles of FNP Practice courses mentioned above and help rising FNPs understand how to best serve disparate patient groups in real clinical settings.
Students can complete the program at Bradley in as few as nine semesters, all without stepping foot on campus and incurring the costs that come with traditional graduate education. Are you interested in completing an online MSN-FNP program? Contact Bradley University today.