Family nurse practitioners are in high demand due to a developing shortage of primary care physicians. Analysts for the Association of American Medical Colleges believe the deficit may increase to as many as 43,100 physicians by 2030. This growing problem has forced health care organizations and public health advocacy groups to develop strategies for filling the potential care gaps likely to materialize as more doctors shutter their practices and medical students opt to pursue specialties instead of general medicine tracks.
FNPs are at the center of these solutions. An estimated 140,000 of these uniquely skilled medical professionals now work in community clinics and hospitals across the country, using their advanced practice knowledge to diagnose patients, develop personalized care plans and prescribe medications, according to data from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners published in 2018. As the primary care physician shortage expands, FNPs rise in prominence and become further entrenched in clinical workflows. In fact, the demand for these health care professionals is expected to grow by almost 20 percent over the next seven years, according to projections from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Bureau of Health Workforce released in 2016.
Consequently, many registered nurses are considering making mid-career moves into the FNP space in search of expanded practice authority, higher wages and the power to make a more significant impact. RNs interested in making this transition must update their skills through formalized educational programs, as 97 percent of FNPs possess master’s degrees, according to AANP collected in 2018. While there are many advanced degree programs in the U.S. that cater to aspiring FNPs, these programs vary when it comes to delivery.
Bradley University offers an online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program designed to help working RNs improve their clinical toolkits and gain the theoretical knowledge needed to transition into in-demand FNP roles, which often come with salaries of more than $107,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What does an online program like the one at Bradley University entail?
Online instructional delivery
More than 6 million Americans are enrolled in online learning programs, according to data from the Babson Survey Research Group. That figure is expected to grow in the coming years, as more institutions embrace distance learning. Students are enrolling in online programs for several key reasons.
One, web-based learning tools are incredibly powerful and give students the ability to engage with educational resources in new ways. In some cases, students accessing online materials actually connect with information better than they might in more traditional environments. One study showed that learners were more likely to read e-texts than physical books, as these resources included features — highlighting capabilities, for example — that bolster engagement and keep readers on task, according to the education nonprofit Educause published in 2017.
Secondly, online programs reduce the logistical burden of pursuing higher education. Because courses unfold online, students are not required to commute to campuses and can access key resources and connect with faculty from any location with a wireless signal. This is especially important for professionals looking to gain the skills to move up the ladder mid-career, as they must be able to work full time while taking care of other responsibilities.
Finally, online programs are simply more cost effective than traditional degree tracks. Without having to commute to campus or spend on housing, students can save considerable money while maintaining well-paying nursing jobs and increasing their earning potential.
High-level nursing education
Delivery is only part of the online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program equation. The content can be truly career-altering, equipping aspiring FNPs with the knowledge they need to broaden their professional horizons, expand clinical footprints and effectively address serious public health problems, including the primary care physician shortage.
In addition to expanding nurses’ basic diagnostic skill sets, these programs touch on more specific subjects such as population health and family medicine. Graduates leave with great insight and carefully honed abilities that prepare them for modern health care delivery environments. This is certainly the case for FNPs who maximized their potential through the online Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner program at Bradley University.
The MSN-FNP program at Bradley consists of 67 credit hours of coursework designed to prepare working RNs for careers as FNPs. The instructional track touches on numerous critical subjects, with courses including Advanced Pathophysiology, Legal and Ethical Issues in Health Care, Evidence-Based Practice and Advanced Pharmacology. It also addresses clinical areas directly related to the FNP role. Bradley MSN-FNP students learn techniques for working with individuals who have acute or chronic conditions, all patient populations regularly encountered in primary care settings. The degree program closes with five separate preceptor-supervised clinical practicums.
Graduates of the MSN-FNP program at Bradley University go on to FNP positions in a variety of clinical environments, from hospitals and private practices to urgent care centers and community clinics. Some even ascend to leadership positions in the public sphere, using their hard-earned clinical expertise to formulate solutions to population health issues here and abroad.
The online Family Nurse Practitioner program – Family Nurse Practitioner at Bradley University is the ideal instructional track for mid-career medical professionals who wish to expand their clinical skills and re-enter the health care arena as FNPs.
Potential students can learn more about the program at the Bradley University website.