Distance Learning Courses to Be a Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have advanced education that allows them to perform some of the same duties as medical doctors. Read on to learn about program requirements for these medical professionals, common courses and distance learning considerations.

Nurse Practitioner Distance Learning Courses

The following are a number of courses that can be taken as part of a distance-based nurse practitioner program:

  • Physiology: Intended for students who already possess a basic understanding of human physiology, this course introduces advanced topics that are essential for nurses. The course analyzes concepts from a cellular, tissue, organ, molecular, and system perspective and teaches students how to design and implement a plan of care for patients with a range of different diseases.
  • Pharmacology: This course begins with an overview of the fundamental principles of pharmacology, including pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. Once an understanding of these ideas is established, students then shift their focus to the effects of disease treatment. Students will examine how the main pharmacological classes affect the human body. The primary focus of the course will then be to study the major pharmacological classes surrounding disease processes affecting the major organ systems.
  • Health Policy: In addition to their understanding of the human body and disease treatment, nurse practitioners must also be familiar with America's health care system. This course provides an in-depth examination of health care organization, delivery, and financing in the U.S. Topics studied also include the role of advocacy, public policy, and industry regulation on the health care system.
  • Health Care Ethics: Nurse practitioners work in a field in which personal information and private matters are constantly shared and exchanged, and as such they must be prepared to handle major moral and ethical dilemmas on a regular basis. This course provides that preparation, challenging students to consider important questions and helping to cultivate a sense of morality.
  • Physical Assessment: This online course allows students to attain a more advanced grasp on the skills necessary to perform an assessment of physical health. Theoretical and practical assessments will be done, accounting for physical and mental health across a patient's lifetime.
  • Research Methods and Biostatistics: Teaching healthcare providers best practices for research, this online course discusses both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. Interpretation methods are also stressed, as is the way research concepts can be specifically tailored to healthcare issues.
  • Care of the Family in Crisis: An online course in family crisis care will teach students how to work with families currently facing a crisis. Topics will explore social and psychological issues pertaining to these families and the role of the healthcare provider in caring for them.

Program Information

In general, online courses for nurse practitioners are available through degree programs. Students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees may earn the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, and those students with MSN degrees may earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Some schools offer online post-master's certificates for nurse practitioners as well.

Many online nurse practitioner programs require in-person clinical experiences. On-campus visits usually provide students with instruction on standardized patient examinations, physical assessments, diagnostic reasoning and other topics. Clinicals and rotations are scheduled in healthcare facilities and students work under the supervision of nurse practitioners or physicians. These experiences are organized by the school and may require students to travel some distance from their homes if a suitable local facility cannot be found.

Nurse practitioner distance based programs can provide students with flexibility both in schedule and learning. From classes in research methods, ethics, and healthcare policy to classes in physiology and pharmacology, these programs cover a depth of subject in the field.

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