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The Online Family Nurse Practitioner Program: Preparing for a Higher Level of Service

online nurse practitioner program

While practical and registered nurses form the frontline of care professionals tasked with providing health services to patients across the nation, advanced practice registered nurses comprise the elites within this field. They possess the knowledge and credentials required to administer complex treatments that could overwhelm less experienced nurses. Reaching this level of expertise requires advanced learning.

This often involves specialized training designed to prepare nurses for challenging careers in specific areas of practice such as family, pediatric, or the mental health field. With the convenient option of online family nurse practitioner programs, nurses can earn their Master of Science in Nursing degree online, thereby allowing them to qualify for more demanding—yet rewarding—clinical and administrative roles in the nursing profession without attending classes on campus.

Online Learning: Balance Personal Life and Professional Advancement

The road to becoming a practicing registered nurse can, and often does, take as many as five years of higher education and professional clinical training.

Throughout this time, the demands of completing coursework and physically attending classes on campus may hamper a prospective nurse’s opportunities to work while they learn, slowing their careers and restricting their income. Following their initial education at the baccalaureate or associate level, their career may again reach a point where higher education is the key to career advancement. But due to the demanding nature of nursing work, the “cost” of such education can sometimes be too significant for a practicing nurse.

Yet not all opportunities to advance in the nursing profession demand physical presence to complete. With online learning, students can usually learn from experienced nurse educators without sacrificing their current positions to attend class—as classes can be attended from their own homes. [1]

Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs

Only graduate-educated nurses can be certified as family nurse practitioners, because graduate level on-campus and online family nurse practitioner programs are structured to provide in-depth knowledge on clinical subjects that are not prioritized within bachelor or associate level programs. For example, family nurse practitioners are allowed to administer primary care, but only advanced degrees will provide the level of disease management, health promotion, health education, and preventive health care knowledge necessary to do so effectively. [3]

Furthermore, the programs also emphasize teaching students how to collaborate with interdisciplinary teams of health care providers, via group projects, interactive online seminars, and online discussions designed to hone a nurse’s ability to connect with others to achieve success. This is a critical component of nursing, especially for the family nurse practitioner, as nurses in this specialization will often co-manage the symptoms of their patients, which requires forming a cohesive bond with the patient through effective communication.

Educated Nurses Are in High Demand

The population of the U.S. is constantly rising, and a larger proportion of the population is over the age of sixty-five than at any other time in U.S. history. Meaning, the health care system is strained more than ever due to the overwhelming number of senior citizens relying on it, as they inherently demand more health resources due to the chronic health conditions that become more common in old age.

On the other end of the problem, patients also outnumber active nurses in the field due in part to the number of veteran nurses retiring from the field, entering education roles, or simply switching careers. While there are only about three million nurses in the U.S., approximately one million nurses are currently aged fifty and older, so within the next ten to fifteen years the system can expect to lose an entire third of the nursing workforce to retirement.

Although training new nurses to fill the vacancies is the best solution to this problem, the nurses entering the field will need to be effective in their roles in order to fill the gap left by their likely more experienced predecessors. But many nurse education programs lack the necessary resources for educating the large number of nurses that the health care workforce will need in coming years.

With that said, online advanced learning options, such as online family nurse practitioner programs, allow schools to reach a wider range of students, ensuring that the next generation will still have access to efficient and effective nurses. [2]

Maintaining a reasonable patient-nurse ratio within a facility is key to guaranteeing patient safety and providing the highest quality of care, as understaffed facilities will stretch their nurses too thin, limiting the amount of time and energy they can commit to each individual patient.

Learn More

Family nurse practitioners play a major role in today’s health care field. The responsibilities of FNPs have evolved alongside that of physicians, which means additional opportunities, autonomy, and authority. At Regis College, our Master of Science in Nursing FNP online program can help you develop the specialized skill set you need to practice at the advanced level.

Recommended Readings:

How Psychiatric Nursing is Fighting the Mental Health Stigma
Best Practices to Promote Cultural Awareness
How Nurse Practitioners Can Become Community Advocates