12 – FranU MSN-FNP Program Makes 5 Years!

FranU MSN-FNP Program Makes 5 Years!

Written by Alicia Bates, PhD, NP-C, CDCES, Family Nurse Practitioner Program Director/Assistant Professor

FranU Nursing Students

As the days turn into months, and the months turn into years, the MSN family nurse practitioner (FNP) program at Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady University (FranU) is quickly approaching a five-year milestone. In December 2022, we will be graduating our fifth cohort of FNP students. For some, five years may seem trivial, but here at FranU this represents a total of 2,288 graduate credit hours, 30,000+ clinical hours, and 52 master’s-prepared nurse practitioner (NP) graduates, all of whom are licensed and practicing NPs. Most importantly, our MSN-FNP program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

While the master’s program received initial accreditation in 2007 with the ACEN, the current faculty did not interact with accreditation until the need to write a Focused Report regarding a substantive change submitted for our graduate program. At that time, we had MSN educator and administration options, but due to low enrollment, these options are no longer offered. Overall, our Focused Report addressed how the development of this new MSN-FNP program option satisfied the requirements and standards set forth by the ACEN. After submitting the Focused Report, an on-campus focused site visit was scheduled for November 2017. That review eventually made its way to the ACEN Board of Commissioners, who affirmed continuing accreditation for the master’s nursing program following the implementation of a new FNP option in January 2018.

As expected, there are some distinct differences between undergraduate and graduate nursing education. Unlike with undergraduate nursing programs, the ACEN requires that all APRN programs adhere to the current National Task Force (NTF) guidelines established by the National Organization for Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). The ACEN clearly states that an APRN curriculum must be congruent with the established advanced practice competencies and role-specific professional standards (ACEN Criterion 4.1). For example, one of the NONPF competency areas requires that a curriculum demonstrates an understanding of the interdependence of policy and practice. In our NURS 6345 Professional Aspects of Advanced Practice Nursing course, students write a compelling letter to their legislator about a current FNP practice issue. This assignment speaks to the importance of analyzing and advocating for policies that are safe and promote healthy practice environments.

NTF guidelines also indicate that graduate APRN students are required to meet a minimum of 500 supervised direct patient clinical hours over the duration of the program. For our program, students must obtain a minimum of 600 clinical hours prior to graduation. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many practice sites closed their doors to students. As a result, FNP faculty developed and implemented a simulated telehealth clinic as a current and accessible teaching-learning method for faculty and students alike (ACEN Criterion 5.3). Students were able to use the additional 100 clinical hours required by our program as simulated telehealth hours (ACEN Criterion 4.8). The integration of tele-simulation provides education to NP students, which is consistent with contemporary practice and role-specific (ACEN Criterion 4.1). Additionally, tele-simulation introduces best practice techniques for meeting patient health and safety goals (ACEN Criterion 4.9). Behind the scenes, all FNP faculty continue to maintain a weekly practice day, which ensures relevancy in our professional practices as well as with our teaching in clinical courses. This is a requirement by NONPF and aligns with the ACEN Criteria 2.6 and 5.1. In February 2020, the FranU School of Nursing underwent a site visit in pursuit of continuing accreditation. A team of three peer evaluators spent two days reviewing both our BSN and MSN programs. We are proud to say that continuing accreditation was granted by the ACEN Board of Commissioners later that year, and we look forward to many more years of serving our students, our nursing program, and our university!

Written by Alicia Bates, PhD, NP-C, CDCES, Family Nurse Practitioner Program Director/Assistant Professor

Alicia Bates, PhD, NP-C, CDCES, Family Nurse Practitioner Program Director/Assistant Professor