Online master's degree programs are common and allow nurses to meet the educational qualifications for nurse practitioner certification, while continuing to work full-time. They can take courses online as their schedules permit, but must complete the extensive clinical requirements at a healthcare facility. Full-time and part-time master's degree programs are available. In-person attendance may be required for proctored exams, seminars, assessments and meetings with instructors and medical staff and the clinical experience is obtained at a medical facility.
Students in an online adult nurse practitioner program must be an experienced registered nurse. These programs qualify graduates to apply for certification as an adult nurse practitioner with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Credentialing requires graduation from an accredited program, meeting clinical training requirements and passing a certification exam. Students must be licensed as Registered Nurse (RN) and have 1-2 years experience in the field.
Master of Science in Nursing - Adult Nurse Practitioner
There are many programs designed for nurses seeking to extend their scope of practice to include primary health care for adults. To apply, individuals generally need a bachelor's degree in nursing and 1-2 years of experience working as a registered nurse (RN). Programs require between 45-50 semester-credits of online coursework, coupled with more than 600 hours of clinical practice. Full-time students can finish all requirements in 24 months, and part-time students can take 3-6 years to complete all work.
Program Information and Requirements
Distance learners should have an up-to-date computer with a fast Internet connection and multimedia capabilities. Most lectures and exams are conducted online using one of several presentation and communication applications. Students also go online to maintain contact with faculty, read course materials, conduct research and submit assignments.
To complete hands-on clinical practice, receive feedback and sometimes have exams proctored, students must meet up with instructors and clinical facility staff in their local area. Schools often help arrange these experiences and introduce preceptors. Some schools require students to visit the home campus occasionally for seminars or skills assessment.
Common Adult Nurse Practitioner
All nurse practitioner students learn pathophysiology, health assessment, health maintenance, research methods and nursing leadership. Some concentrate on the diagnosis and management of medical issues specific to the adult population; in these programs, sites chosen for clinical practice should have a significant adult care component. Courses include:
Students examine the philosophical foundations of health care and compare several approaches to nursing. They also consider the effects of legislation, politics, economics and health care organizations on advanced nursing practice.
Nurse practitioners must understand pharmacological principles in order to dispense and manage drugs effectively. The basic classes of drugs are covered, along with their effects upon different body systems. Students are introduced to research tools for determining drug interactions, toxicity and contraindications.
Primary Care of the Adult
Classwork helps students develop their own knowledge base for advanced adult primary care. Supervised clinical practice in an adult care setting reinforces classroom lessons.
Healthcare Research Methods
The course presents an overview of common research sources and strategies for clinical decision-making. Research study methodologies are compared. Related topics include fundamental statistics, the responsible use of human subjects and proposal-writing.
Acute and Chronic Care of Adults
Working under close supervision, students develop their clinical skills by working with patients with acute and chronic illnesses. Clinical situations expose students to culturally diverse clients with a variety of medical issues.
Career Outlook for Adult Nurse Practitioners
In certain settings, adult nurse practitioners are considered an economical choice of primary care provider. Employers include hospitals, private practice, community health centers, nursing schools and government agencies. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 31% job growth between 2014-2024 for nurse practitioners, (www.bls.gov). In 2015, BLS listed the median salary for nurse practitioners as $98,190.
Graduates of an accredited online adult nurse practitioner master's degree program are eligible to take the ANCC certification examination, offered year-round. Certification lasts for five years, but can be renewed by accumulating continuing education credits and practice hours.
While a clinical aspect is required, online nurse practitioner degree programs are appealing as they allow students to continue working during their studies. Courses cover topics in pharmacology, research, and different types of patient care.