Questions to Consider: MSN – Family Nurse Practitioner Online

MSN FNP questions to consider

Getting your Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN – FNP) degree online is the first step to becoming a board-certified primary care provider. As you prepare to take on a more robust scope of nursing practice, you will learn advanced skills in patient assessment and diagnostic evaluation, and deepen your understanding of holistic health management.

FNPs in training complete both coursework and clinical rotations designed to provide the right preparation for the dynamic role of primary care provider. FNPs must be ready to work with patients across the lifespan to help them achieve their health goals, whether that entails wellness education and support, monitoring and treatment of chronic disease, medication and therapeutic management, or preventive counseling and care.

Follow the links below to learn more about this fascinating and growing career field, as well as the process of earning your MSN – FNP degree online.

What Is a Master of Science in Nursing – Family Nurse Practitioner Degree?

 An MSN FNP is your first step toward becoming a board-certified primary care provider

Registered nurses (RNs) who want to become nurse practitioners have a few different options when it comes to specialization. The MSN – FNP is a master's degree designed to prepare RNs for advanced practice as a primary care provider, working in a variety of clinical settings.

Students in online MSN – FNP programs complete intensive coursework and a series of clinical rotations that expand their understanding of a range of medical conditions they will see in primary care. After graduation and board-certification, FNPs are qualified to provide a comprehensive scope of services to patients, from wellness counseling and diagnosis to disease intervention.

Is the Online MSN – FNP Different Than the On-Campus Version?

At most schools, the structure and content of the MSN – FNP online program is not substantially different from the on-campus version. Your academic preparation and required clinical rotations should be essentially the same; you just have a few more options when you study online.

For instance, you may be able to do clinicals in your home community at a facility of your choice. You'll also have much greater flexibility to fit class and study time into your regular routine, instead of rearranging your life to get to campus for classes that may not always meet when you're available.

Northern Kentucky University's MSN – FNP online program recognizes that RNs are working professionals with unique needs when it comes to earning a graduate degree. NKU offers RNs the skills and knowledge they require to advance their careers, in a highly personalized online learning environment that provides the support they need to succeed.

NKU professor Dr Gannon Tagher
All of the resources that are available to our on-campus students are also available to our online students ... whether it be on the technology side, on the learning side, on the faculty side, those resources are available for any type of student that comes into our program.

What Will I Learn in MSN – FNP Courses Online?

You will acquire the knowledge and clinical skills needed to care for patients across the lifespan, and learn how to address specific health issues for the diverse populations served in primary care settings.

The MSN – FNP degree integrates evidence-based primary care, advanced nursing practice and supervised clinical experience, and is designed to help RNs develop as medical professionals. MSN – FNP graduates are prepared to handle every aspect of primary care, and to advance their nursing careers.

Which Subjects Will I Study to Earn the MSN – FNP Degree?

MSN – FNP online students build knowledge across many different areas of primary care practice, as they prepare to address the diverse healthcare needs of their patients.

MSN – FNP online students build knowledge across many different areas of primary care practice

Core MSN – FNP coursework at NKU highlights the following subjects:

  • Nursing foundations, theory and research
  • APRN history and role development
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Physical assessment
  • Diagnostic reasoning
  • Clinical decision-making and management
  • Human pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Health data analysis and applications
  • Healthcare policy

NKU MSN – FNP students also complete specialty coursework in primary care and pharmacology for specific populations (children, adults, seniors), as well as a research-based capstone course.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for MSN – FNP Online Graduate Programs?

MSN FNP admissions requirements

A bachelor's degree accredited program is the minimum education requirement at most schools, along with an active and unencumbered nursing license and some experience as an RN. Admissions advisors will also ask for official transcripts that verify your previous degrees and all coursework completed, from each school you attended.

You may also need to submit GRE scores, and schools usually have a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement. Graduate nursing programs often expect to see proof that you have taken statistics and/or research courses with an acceptable grade as well, and they may request recommendation letters or have you complete a personal statement describing your goals or preparation for graduate study.

Admission to NKU's MSN – FNP online program is a streamlined process designed to help applicants move through the initial steps quickly. In addition:

  • Application fees are waived for active duty military members and veterans, as well as NKU alumni.
  • No GRE scores, personal statement or recommendation letters are required.

Do I Need Primary Care RN Experience to Apply?

No. RNs can become FNPs after serving in any type of nursing role, and many move into primary care from a different specialty area.

Will Employers Care That I Earned My MSN – FNP Degree Online?

more than a third of all graduate and undergraduate students now complete their college coursework online, either partially or exclusivel

According to the latest figures released by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics, more than a third of all graduate and undergraduate students now complete their college coursework online, either partially or exclusively. While some employers may not be up to speed with the high quality of education that modern online degree programs can deliver, healthcare is an industry that recognizes the benefits of remote learning and telecommuting.

Healthcare employers most want to know that you have graduated from an accredited nursing program at a reputable school, to ensure that you have the academic and clinical preparation required for the role of primary care provider. Healthcare recruiters also understand that excellent job candidates can come from both online and on-campus MSN – FNP programs.

NKU was recently named a Forbes Top College for the 11th year in a row, and online MSN – FNP students benefit from the school's long tradition of excellence in nursing. Completing your degree online at NKU demonstrates to employers that you have the tenacity and work ethic required to excel as a family nurse practitioner, and that you have the right training to achieve your goals.

"[With] a graduate of NKU, you know you're getting a quality applicant. The school is accredited. It meets all of the requirements that we're looking for. We know that these students have been through a rigorous process, and they've been successful if they've completed the program. ... I think graduates seem very well-prepared to be outstanding clinicians." – Dr. Stephanie Meade, Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Mercy Health West in Cincinnati, Ohio, and frequent NKU graduate clinical preceptor

"We've had the privilege of hiring Northern Kentucky graduates at, really, every place I've worked in greater Cincinnati ... I do think the quality of the graduates produced through the programming here [is] very high."

Why Does My Nursing School Need to Be Accredited?

Accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) ensures that college and university nursing schools follow core national standards for nursing education, and that graduates are adequately prepared for professional certification. Most state and federal financial aid programs also require that students attend an accredited institution to be eligible for funding.

NKU's MSN – FNP online degree program is CCNE-accredited

Once a school is accredited, it must also be recertified at regular intervals to make sure that course offerings and technology are updated, and that the school remains financially solvent. This helps protect students from fraud and guarantees their degree will hold its value over time. To look up the accreditation status of any nursing program you're interested in, visit the U.S. Department of Education's searchable Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP).

NKU's MSN – FNP online degree program is CCNE-accredited.

Learn more about our MSN FNP online program!

How Are FNPs Different From Other APRNs?

All nurse practitioners must hold a master's or doctorate in nursing and be certified as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. They must also specialize in one of four areas of practice outlined in the APRN Consensus Model, a set of national standards for APRN certification and licensure.

Four APRN specialties
  • FNPs are Certified Nurse Practitioners who can specialize in areas such as family practice, internal medicine, women's health, acute care, pediatrics, mental health or gerontology. They are authorized to diagnose and treat patients and prescribe medications. They may work independently or under physician supervision, depending on the state where they practice.
  • Certified Nurse Specialists can also diagnose and treat patients, but they do not have prescribing authority. They often focus on a specific patient population or healthcare setting. For instance, they may specialize in gerontology (health or critical care), pediatric critical care, public health, or home health, and develop expertise in specific diseases or conditions.
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetists work with doctors, dentists and other surgical specialists to ensure safe anesthesia delivery to patients and provide post-surgical support. They work in hospital surgical units, outpatient surgery settings, and physician offices. They may also oversee patient recovery and pain management following a procedure.
  • Certified Nurse Midwives provide a full range of women's health services, from testing and routine gynecology services to pregnancy, delivery and post-partum care. Like FNPs, they may work independently or under physician supervision, depending on the state where they practice. 

Why Do RNs Choose the Family Nurse Practitioner Certification?

nurse practitioner ranks #5 in best healthcare jobs

Many RNs choose this area of advanced practice nursing because it offers them the opportunity to manage the care of a wide variety of patients, and gain experience in diagnosing and treating a range of different conditions. Career opportunity for FNPs is also growing at an impressive rate.

In its annual listing of Best Healthcare Jobs, U.S. News & World Report ranks nurse practitioner #5, noting that career satisfaction is high and unemployment numbers are low (about 1 percent). The magazine also ranked nurse practitioner #7 in its Top 100 Jobs of 2019, and figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that demand for NPs will increase 36 percent by 2026.

Do FNPs Have the Same Scope of Practice as Physicians?

Not exactly, since FNPs are not physicians. As an FNP, your scope of practice will be regulated by the state in which you work. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, FNPs can practice to the fullest extent of their training in 23 states, meaning they may see, diagnose and treat patients independently and prescribe medications. These states include:

NP scope of practice
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont

FNPs who work in a U.S. Veterans Health Administration hospital, clinic or care facility also have full practice authority, regardless of the state in which they work.

States that have not yet granted full practice authority require FNPs to be supervised by a physician, either for a certain time period or for as long as they practice. The Scope of Practice Policy project provides information on nurse practitioner authority for every state, as well as American territories.

How Many Clinical Rotations Will I Do in an MSN – FNP Program?

Clinical rotations are required for an MSN – FNP degree

Clinical rotations are required for an MSN – FNP degree, but there is no set number you must have. Each nursing school approaches this component differently, based on its own training model for FNPs and the way it chooses to divide required clinical hours between observation, simulations, hands-on clinical care, nursing practicums, or other forms of nursing experience.

NKU's online MSN – FNP program requires students to complete five clinical rotations in primary care, each lasting seven weeks. Students also complete a seven-week capstone practicum. A total of 600 clinical hours is required for the NKU online program.

How Do I Complete Clinical Rotations for an Online Degree Program?

Online MSN – FNP degree programs often allow students to set up their own clinical rotations, for several reasons. When online students attend a school located in a different city or state, they usually prefer to complete their clinicals closer to home. Distance can also be an issue for some schools. For example, a nursing program located in Utah may not have the contacts or resources required to arrange clinical placements for students living as far away as Alaska or Vermont.

Whenever you arrange your own clinicals, be sure to do so well in advance of your desired start date. Your school may need a full term or semester to review the arrangement and the preceptor's credentials, and to complete the written agreement outlining timelines and expectations for all parties.

Learn more about our MSN FNP online program!

Can I Get Help Setting Up My Clinical Placements?

Each nursing school handles clinicals for its online students differently, but some do offer placement assistance. If you know you will need help finding one or more clinical placements in your area, be sure to ask the nursing schools you are considering about the kind of assistance they offer, so you know what to expect.

While NKU MSN – FNP online students have the option to arrange their own clinical rotations, the program also provides students support as needed to secure the right placement. Faculty and staff are happy to help online students find a suitable site or preceptor upon request, whether the clinical rotation will take place near campus or near the Arctic Circle.

NKU is a phenomenal nursing school, and I know that students are prepared when they come out of NKU. I've seen it in students who have done practicums.
Pamela Millay, Director of Clinical Services for the Northern Kentucky Health Department

What's the Career Outlook for Family Nurse Practitioners?

Ohio and Texas have some of the highest employment rates for nurse practitioners

Whether you want to work with physicians in a collaborative care environment, or go into solo practice in a state where FNPs have full practice and prescribing authority, the career outlook for nurse practitioners is outstanding.

Search data from healthcare recruiter Merritt Hawkins indicates that nurse practitioners are now the most sought-after APRNs. In fact, demand for nurse practitioners is now outpacing demand for many physician specialties. Only family medicine physicians and psychiatrists were more heavily recruited in 2017-18.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that states such as Ohio and Texas have some of the highest employment rates for nurse practitioners at present, but research indicates that demand for FNPs will be strong across the entire nation in years to come.

Figures released by the Association of American Medical Colleges forecast that by 2030, our current primary care physician shortage will reach 49,300, as more physicians reach retirement age and fewer graduates specialize in primary care. FNPs will continue to play a critical role in addressing this shortage, meeting community healthcare needs now and in the future.

Top 5 Most Requested Searches by Medical Specialty

Family medicine is the top requested medical specialty with nurse practitioner close behind, showing the need for FNPs.

Family Medicine
Nurse Practitioner
Internal Medicine

Source: Merritt Hawkins, 2018

Dr. Denise Robinson
Nursing is such a phenomenal career choice with lots of options and opportunities. Teaching enables me to share with DNP and MSN students what I have learned over the years from the perspective of an active scholar, writer, researcher and active clinical practitioner. I am passionate about facilitating motivated students to achieve their career goals.

How Much Can I Earn With an MSN – FNP Degree?

Nurse practitioner salaries are up 6.6 percent since 2017

Pay rates for nurse practitioners have risen substantially in recent years according to healthcare placement firm PracticeMatch. Nurse practitioner salaries are up 6.6 percent since 2017, and the number of NPs receiving signing bonuses is also up by 11 percent.

FNPs are currently making an average base salary of $103,838 per year according to ZipRecruiter (February 2019), and in today's competitive recruiting environment, many employers are offering financial incentives tied to productivity or profits to sweeten the deal.

These average base salaries will give you an idea of what you might earn in different states, before signing bonuses or other perks.

State Average Salary
Vermont $102,011
Montana $102,000
Nevada $102,000
West Virginia $101,954
Virginia $99,946
Connecticut $99,647
Delaware $98,631
Colorado $96,278
Kentucky $95,174
Indiana $94,253
Utah $94,164
Ohio $93,982
South Dakota $93,978
Wisconsin $92,870
Mississippi $89,494

Source: ZipRecruiter, February 2019

Are FNP Opportunities Better in Some Cities Than Others?

The latest data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Burning Glass Labor Insight indicate that demand for nurse practitioners is especially high in the following metro areas:

The number of rural nurse practitioners increased 43% between 2008 and 2016
  • Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights (Illinois)
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (D.C.-Virginia-West Virginia)
  • Houston-Sugar Land-The Woodlands (Texas)
  • Dallas-Plano-Irving (Texas)
  • Fort Worth-Arlington (Texas)
  • Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford (Connecticut)
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk (Connecticut)

Smaller cities with high rates of employment for nurse practitioners include Lima, Ohio; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Beckley, West Virginia.

The BLS also notes that nonmetropolitan areas such as Eastern Kentucky have a high concentration of NP jobs compared to other types of employment. This can sometimes lead to better pay and incentives, and in fact, NPs working in small cities or towns in the Big Thicket region of Texas, North and West Central New Mexico and most of Alaska can make more than many NPs working in major cities.

According to Forbes magazine, the number of rural nurse practitioners jumped 43 percent from 2008 to 2016, based on research published in the Health Affairs journal. The study also found that when nurse practitioners are embraced as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team, rural healthcare delivery can be improved.

Is There Much Demand for FNPs in Rural Areas?

Yes. The demand for FNPs is strong and growing, due to the acute need for primary care providers in rural America. Rural areas can offer FNPs enhanced career opportunities and also the chance to take on a critical primary care role in a local community.

State and federal governments are also devoting more resources to programs that provide financial incentives for FNPs practicing in primary care shortage areas designated by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, attracting new MSN – FNP graduates to rural areas.

Primary Care Shortage in Rural America infographic

The Primary Care Shortage in Rural America: Fast Facts

44 million Americans are living in a primary care shortage area

The latest demographic study by the Pew Research Center indicates that despite increasing urbanization in smaller cities across the country, the majority of counties in America continue to be rural. One-fifth of the nation's populace currently lives in rural and remote areas, and in many counties, citizens have surprisingly few healthcare options.

A 2018 report by the UnitedHealth Group revealed that 44 million Americans are living in a primary care shortage area, meaning a county with less than one primary care physician for every 2,000 residents. Rural residents are also five times more likely to experience a primary care shortage than people living in urban areas.

Statistics compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2018 reveal that states with the highest percentage of rural residents often have the lowest numbers of physicians providing basic primary care services. Wyoming's acute physician shortage illustrates this dynamic, as the state currently has only 627 primary care providers, or one for every 924 residents. With most of the state's population concentrated in two major cities, many residents are isolated from care.

According to the Wyoming Office of Rural Health, 47 percent of the state's 401,441 rural residents live in 'Frontier' areas (defined as fewer than six people per square mile), many with no access at all to healthcare close to where they live. Four of the state's 23 counties have no rural health clinic, federally qualified health center or critical access hospital, and another 10 counties have only one or two health facilities.

This acute lack of access to primary care is also growing because fewer physicians of all types are practicing in rural areas. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only 11 percent of all physicians practice in rural settings. This is a problem even in large states like Texas, and Texas A&M's Rural & Community Health Institute reports that 80 counties in the state have five or fewer practicing physicians, and 35 counties have no physicians at all.

What Is a Primary Care Professional Shortage Area?

It is a geographic area identified by the government as a place where primary care services are currently not meeting the needs of the population. In other words, the demand for services far outstrips the supply of clinicians available to work with patients, and the resources available for preventive health services, treatment, diagnosis and other care.

$293 million in new funding to address the critical need for primary care services in shortage areas

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services recently announced $293 million in new funding to address the critical need for primary care services in shortage areas. Funding, which includes recruitment programs for nurse practitioners, will expand the size of the healthcare workforce that serves remote communities, as well as underserved populations in urban and rural settings. The goal is to boost participation numbers in some of the following programs, which offer practice incentives for FNPs:

The Indian Health Service, the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services Promoting Interoperability Program, and the Rural Health Information Hub are also great resources for FNPs who wish to work in a primary care professional shortage area.

What Will It Cost to Get My MSN – FNP Degree Online?

It depends on your school, as well as the number of courses and clinical rotations required. Nursing schools at public colleges and universities tend to cost less than private institutions, but the range of tuition also varies by program quality and reputation.

Students at small state schools or less-established programs can pay as little as $201 per credit hour, while those attending prestigious private schools may pay as much as $2,065 per credit hour, or around $85,000 by graduation.

Considering the fact that online nursing programs allow students to finish their degree more quickly if they choose, there is sometimes a tuition savings compared to a traditional on-campus program. Online programs are also great for students who want to take courses at their own pace, and space their tuition cost out over time.

Nursing programs at NKU have a long reputation for excellence at a reasonable cost. You can earn your MSN – FNP degree online for $31,924, including all tuition and fees.

Do Online Degree Programs Charge Out-of-state Tuition?

Some schools offering the MSN – FNP degree online do charge out-of-state students a higher tuition rate. However, NKU's MSN – FNP online students, who live as close as Ohio and Indiana and as far away as Nevada, Mississippi, Vermont and Alaska, all pay the same reasonable tuition rate as students in Kentucky.

Can Graduate Students Get Financial Aid?

MSN – FNP online students can apply for federal and state grants

As long as you are attending an accredited college or university graduate program, you should be able to apply for financial aid. MSN – FNP online students can apply for federal and state grants, loans and scholarship programs just as on-campus nursing students do.

You may also be eligible for tuition reimbursement through your employer, and you can find more information on nursing scholarships at

I Have Education Benefits From My Military Service. Can I Use Them For an Online Degree Program?

military benefits for an online MSN FNP program

If you are eligible to use the Post-911 GI Bill or other military benefits for an on-campus MSN – FNP degree, you should also be able to use them toward your MSN – FNP online. Be sure to check with your military branch concerning restrictions or time limits for using your benefits, and remember that all branches require that you study at an accredited school or program.

Can I Keep Working Full Time and Still Get My MSN – FNP Degree?

Yes, and many RNs do. MSN – FNP degree programs online are tailored to the needs of working professionals in healthcare. You can complete coursework at the times and in the places that are best for your work schedule, and progress through the curriculum at your own pace. Not having to stick with a set weekly schedule of class meetings also helps busy RNs who work at odd hours or on call, as well as those with a staffing rotation that changes frequently.

The reward of teaching students who are already nurses comes when they realize a new way of thinking or when they identify ways to inform and influence nursing practice that they never thought were possible.

How Long Does It Take to Finish the MSN – FNP degree?

MSN – FNP degree programs vary in length, but most take two to three years to complete whether you study online or on campus. Many RNs are choosing online MSN – FNP programs because they offer a more intensive training experience, and it's possible to move through required coursework at your own pace.

Plan for about 2 years for an MSN FNP program

How soon you can earn the degree will depend on how you like to study and how school fits into your life. Students who are motivated to finish quickly have the option of attending year round, and knock out their courses and clinicals faster. You can also take one class at a time and pause your studies when family or work obligations take priority.

NKU's MSN – FNP degree can be completed online in as few as 24 months, including all coursework and clinicals.

Do Online Courses Require As Much Study Time As Courses Held On Campus?

They do, but since you don't have to attend class on a set schedule, you also have more freedom to use study time as you please.

Many online MSN – FNP degree programs recommend that you study three to five hours per week for every credit hour you are taking in a given term. This means an average three-hour class might require that you devote between nine and 15 hours to study each week. As long as you are covering all of the course content and meeting assignment deadlines, however, how and when you do your coursework is completely up to you.

Are MSN – FNP Degree Programs Online As Rigorous As Traditional Programs?

Yes, you can expect the MSN – FNP learning experience to be rigorous and challenging whether you earn your degree online or on campus. After all, national licensure requirements are the same for every FNP, and each student must ultimately demonstrate he or she has achieved a high level of competency in the profession in order to receive board certification.

I would advise students who are considering this program to be ready for a challenge, but that in the end, it will be worth it.

What Are Online Nursing Courses Like?

Online nursing courses have many of the exact same components as on-campus nursing courses. You'll have a professor, a syllabus and course calendar that guide your work, a textbook and other readings, and graded elements such as assignments, tests and projects. The main difference is that you'll access all of these components at the course website, where you can log in and find everything set up for your convenience.

You may view video lectures recorded by your professor, and interact with him or her via email or Skype. Online courses also have discussion boards where you may be asked to post comments or engage in a conversation with your professor and fellow students. Once you get used to the virtual classroom, you may find that submitting assignments and keeping track of grades is actually easier online.

Hayley North, Director of NKU Graduate Admissions
If you're using technology on a daily basis, whether that's a tablet, a computer, your phone, if you're FaceTiming, if you're using any kind of email and Microsoft Office you're going to be successful in an online program. You've already got the tools and the technology that you use on a daily basis. It's just a matter of putting it in a learning environment.
Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chair of the NKU Department of Nursing and Associate Professor
Online students are never alone by themselves with their computers ... we have plenty of technical assistance to help with online learning for those that aren't comfortable with the online environment.
Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chair of the NKU Department of Nursing and Associate Professor

Will I Meet Any of the Other RNs in My Online Program?

Students frequently do get to know each other in the virtual classroom, through exchanges on discussion boards, while doing group assignments or projects, and especially in capstone courses. Many students in MSN-FNP online courses also form study groups and friendships just as they would in on-campus courses and bond with their classmates over the shared experience of becoming a family nurse practitioner.

Will My Online Professors Have Direct Experience in Primary Care?

Yes. The professors you will learn from in MSN – FNP programs online come from a variety of primary care specialties, and many continue to practice in their local community. The NKU MSN – FNP online faculty includes nurse practitioners with decades of experience, from the bedside to advanced practice.

At the graduate level I believe that it is important to meet students where they are and make the learning relevant to the everyday problems encountered in their nursing practice setting. I ask students to envision themselves as problem-solvers and change-makers in their anticipated future roles as nurses with advanced degrees.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Gannon Tagher

Dr. Gannon Tagher, Chair of the NKU Department of Nursing, loves helping RNs advance in their careers through online study.

What gets me excited about coming to work every day is working with students. Our faculty are really involved with our students, and so I think the students get a great experience in the online environment.

She believes the diverse professional experience that NKU online professors bring to their work helps MSN -- FNP students better understand the range of career options available to them in primary care.

"Nurse practitioners tend to focus on primary care or acute care," she notes, "but within those realms there's so many different opportunities ... our faculty have a wide variety of experiences, and they are able to help these students find really what they can be passionate about so they can serve the communities where they live."

Tagher also points out that students in the NKU MSN – FNP online degree program learn from professors who are still in the field themselves, seeing and treating patients.

"All of our faculty teaching in our online programs do have clinical experience, and most of them are still clinically practicing, so all of our nurse practitioner faculty also practice during the week as a nurse practitioner," she says. "They are current on practice guidelines, so all students will be getting the most current information."

Seeing students graduate with a new perspective on nursing is always rewarding, she says. "I really think it's a lot of fun to see students grow. It's a lot of fun to have students realize the potential within the profession of nursing."

Will I Be Able to Talk to My Professors Online?

Yes, you should expect to have ongoing contact with your instructors in most online MSN -- FNP programs, because professors understand that good communication is essential to student success. Email is of course always an option, and professors are frequently available via instant message or video chat as well. Online office hours can also take the form of live lectures or Q&A sessions, where students discuss course content or get feedback on assignments.

"I have always had such great mentors. I realize the difference in mediocre and superior. It can make or break a student, so I strive to be the best I can, to instill knowledge that is purposeful and useful to the students." – Dorothy Baker, Family Nurse Practitioner and NKU MSN-FNP online clinical faculty member

"I have enjoyed motivating students to learn. Igniting the spark to continuous learning has been my passion throughout my career." – Dr. Adrianne Lane, Professor, NKU MSN-FNP online program

Can I Get Advising, Tutoring or Other Support Services Online?

online support for MSN FNP program

Most MSN – FNP degree programs do offer support to online students, but the type and amount of assistance available varies by school. Before you begin an online graduate education, it's good to take stock and decide how much assistance you may want or need from a nursing program, and ask questions as you consider the right choice for you.

NKU is focused on making sure online MSN – FNP students receive a level of support equivalent to their peers studying on campus, and that they feel just as comfortable asking for help. All online MSN – FNP students are assigned an advisor upon acceptance into the program, and they also benefit from the following types of assistance:

"Even though you're a distance learner or an online student, we can still try to emulate as close as possible that on-campus experience ... students can really get that support any time they need, wherever they're located." – Frank Robinson, NKU Director of Norse Advising

Is My Computer Ready for Online Coursework?

To take full advantage of the resources MSN – FNP online courses provide, your computer should be reasonably up to date. It's good to have the most recent version of your computer's web browser and operating system, for example. Internet and email access are also a must.

You may also need to upgrade software or apps here and there, to ensure you can fully participate in class and complete course assignments. Just make sure your computer can handle:

  • Messaging and video chat
  • Video streaming
  • Word processing
  • Spreadsheets
  • Presentations

NKU also provides specific technical requirements for students interested in online study.

Learn more about our MSN FNP online program!


MSN – FNP Online: Courses
MSN – FNP Online: Admissions
Forbes Names NKU a Top College for 10 Years Running
Online Tutoring Options at NKU
Writing Center
Library Help
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About Online Learning

U.S. Department of Education:
Enrollment and Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2017
Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

National Council of State Boards of Nursing:
APRNs in the U.S.
The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation

U.S. News & World Report: Nurse Practitioner Overview

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners
Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017, Nurse Practitioners

American Association of Nurse Practitioners: State Practice Environment

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: VA Grants Full Practice Authority to Advanced Practice Registered Nurses

Scope of Practice Policy: Nurse Practitioners Overview

Merritt Hawkins: 2017 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives

Association of American Medical Colleges: 2018 Update, The Complexities of Physician Supply and Demand: Projections from 2016 to 2030, Final Report

PracticeMatch, Jul 27, 2018: Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants Report Higher Incomes Than Previous Year

Average Salary of Family Nurse Practitioner Jobs
What Is the Average Family Nurse Practitioner Salary by State?

Burning Glass Technologies. "Labor Insight-2018 FNP Demand by State."

Forbes: Nurse Practitioners Boost Presence by 43% in Rural America

Health Affairs: Rural and Nonrural Primary Care Physician Practices Increasingly Rely on Nurse Practitioners

U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration:
Health Professional Shortage Areas — Primary Care
National Health Service Corps: Scholarships
National Health Service Corps: Loan Repayment
National Health Service Corps: State Loan Repayment Program

Pew Research Center: Rural Counties Are the Majority of U.S. Counties, Especially in the Midwest

UnitedHealth Group: Addressing the Nation's Primary Care Shortage: Advanced Practice Clinicians and Innovative Care Delivery Models

Kaiser Family Foundation: Professionally Active Primary Care Physicians by Field

Wyoming Office of Rural Health: What Is Rural?

National Conference of State Legislatures: Meeting the Primary Care Needs of Rural America: Examining the Role of Non-physician Providers

Texas A&M Rural & Community Health Institute: What's Next? Practical Suggestions for Rural Communities Facing a Hospital Closure

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: HHS Awards $293 Million to Expand Primary Health Care Workforce

Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Promoting Interoperability Programs

Rural Health Information Hub:
Funding Opportunities: Nurse Practitioners and Other Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
Health Professional Shortage Areas, Primary Care List of Nursing Scholarships