Last night I was talking with some nurses at work as the patient flow began to taper off for the evening (some might call 2 am the morning…) and it seems like many nurses are considering going back to school to become NPs. I couldn’t support this decision more wholeheartedly. For nurses with an RN degree, there are a few schools offering accelerated RN-MSN programs leading to a nurse practitioner degree.
Online versions of these RN-MSN programs allow registered nurses without a BSN degree to become nurse practitioners with ultimate flexibility. Most nurses choose to work throughout these programs. While this leads to a super-busy couple of years, nurses can support themselves throughout their program taking on less debt.
I reached out to RN-MSN programs across the country to assess their quality. To rank these RN-MSN programs, I asked admissions staff at each school about national certification exam pass rates for their NP program grads, post-graduation job placement rates and support they offer students throughout the RN-MSN program particularly in the area of clinical placements. I silently assessed their responsiveness to my questions as well. Which online RN-MSN programs prepare nurses best for life as a nurse practitioner?
1. Drexel University
Drexel’s RN-MSN program offers nurse practitioner education to RN’s holding a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. Standing out above other programs, Drexel offers a wide selection of nurse practitioner specialties from Women’s Health to Pediatric Primary Care. Graduates of Drexel’s RN-MSN program enjoy a 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam. The downside of Drexel? Like most RN-MSN programs, students at Drexel are required to locate their own clinical sites.
2. Graceland University
Graceland University’s RN-MSN program does not require that students have a bachelor’s degree. The program enrolls qualified RN’s into their Family Nurse Practitioner Program. Graceland nurse practitioner program students do well when it comes down to what matters. Graduates of the RN-MSN program boast a 98 percent pass rate on the national certification exam. While students are required to find their own clinical placements, staff say that most students don’t have difficulty finding clinical sites…as long as they don’t procrastinate.
3. Concordia University
Concordia University’s program is unique in that it is an RN-BSN-MSN program awarding both BSN and MSN degrees. Students may choose from Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult/ Gerontology Nurse Practitioner tracks. Courses are designed to accommodate full-time workers. Concordia graduates have a 97 percent pass rate on the national certification exam speaking to the quality of the program. Unfortunately, like our other top RN-MSN program picks, students are required to locate their own clinical placement sites.
4. Ball State University
Like the Drexel University’s program, the RN-MSN program at Ball State University requires that applicants hold not only an RN degree but also a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing. The program has two tracks, Adult Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner. Graduates of Ball State’s RN-MSN program have a noteworthy 95 to 100 percent pass rate on the national certification exam. Students considering this program should begin looking for clinical placements as soon as possible- the school does not help in this process.
5. University of Delaware
Finally, a program that meets student’s needs when it comes to completing the most important part of the nurse practitioner education- clinical hours. The University of Delaware online RN-MSN program employs a clinical coordinator to locate clinical placements for students. This means that students do not experience delayed graduation due to lack of a clinical site. University of Delaware students may choose from the Family Nurse Practitioner and Adult/ Gerontology Nurse Practitioner tracks. Graduates of these programs do well in the “real world” as evidenced by a pass rate of 95 percent on the national certification exam.
Where are you planning to go for your RN-MSN program?
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