A nationwide shortage of primary care practitioners is expected to escalate in the coming years as provisions outlined in the Affordable Care Act go into effect 1. As demand for healthcare rises, the services of nurse practitioners will be integral in providing effective patient care. Chamberlain College of Nursing launched a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) specialty track to prepare nurses with the expert knowledge, complex decision-making skills and clinical competencies to fill an essential role on primary care teams. Nurses who complete this track may transition into Chamberlain’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program geared toward advanced practice nurses.
“Family nurse practitioners will be critical in addressing the looming primary practitioner shortage,” said Dr. John Distler, dean of MSN nurse practitioner tracks for Chamberlain College of Nursing. “As healthcare evolves toward a community-based approach, FNPs will play a fundamental role in delivering primary care, educating patients and improving patient outcomes.”
Demand for nurse practitioners in all specializations will increase 94 percent between 2008 and 2025 2. FNPs are credentialed to treat patients across the age spectrum and, in some states, can be licensed to practice independently. As semi-independent care providers, FNPs are certified to diagnose and treat illness and prescribe select medications.
“Nurses’ responsibilities are expanding as the healthcare landscape changes, giving them the opportunity to explore diverse roles and specializations,” said Dr. Carole Eldridge, director of graduate programs for Chamberlain College of Nursing. “Through extensive degree options that are accessible online, Chamberlain offers education paths for nurses to pursue lifelong learning, achieve professional goals and provide extraordinary care.”The FNP specialty track joins four other specialty tracks within the MSN degree program: Executive, Educator, Informatics and Healthcare Policy. The FNP track comprises 45 credit hours (five core MSN courses, 10 FNP specific courses); five 125-hour practicum courses; and 25 lab hours. Coursework is completed online, with one onsite weekend immersion experience, and prepares nurses to sit for the national FNP certification exam. Unique program offerings include assistance in practicum and preceptor coordination and virtual human simulation to enhance students’ diagnostic skills.