Online Master of Science in Nursing program prepares students for nurse practitioner career

By Tatyanna Carman

Rider has implemented an online master of science in nursing (MSN) program where students will “expand their scope of practice from a registered nurse to a nurse practitioner,” according to Assistant Professor Lori Prol.

“By expanding their scope of practice, I mean [that] they would be going from the nurse that knows how to assess, identify changes, identify healthcare needs of the patient and how to intervene with collaboration from a healthcare provider that can change the treatment plan,” Prol said. “Now the nurse practitioner is the healthcare provider. They are the ones that are making the clinical decisions, developing the treatment plans based on the changing health status of a patient.”

New students enrolled in the program will also be eligible for a 20% tuition remission, which was established by the university’s marketing team, according to Prol.

“I think it is an excellent strategy, especially when you are looking at [it], they are really marketing towards people that have already demonstrated a commitment and a passion for Rider,” she said.

Prol said that there are six start dates to the online program and explained that it was related to the six three-credit core courses.

“So in the beginning, you can start at any point, which is why we can offer the six start dates, because they can begin the program and pick up immediately in one of those core courses,” Prol explained. “They spend about a year completing those core courses. So, yes, we wanted to open it up so it was flexible, so when someone was [ready] to make a change and start a program, we did not want to have to make them wait until the beginning of the fall or the beginning of the spring or the beginning of the summer.”

She also said that three of the start dates are in the start of fall, spring and summer. They are also broken up into sessions A and B.

Senior registered nurse (RN) to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) student Joseph Montenegro said that he thinks Rider’s MSN program “will be a great opportunity for students to further pursue education.”

“With Rider’s RN to BSN program already established, it serves as a great foundation for the development and recruitment of the MSN program,” Montenegro said.

He has been a registered nurse for over 13 years and had the opportunity “to serve in various leadership roles, such as nursing supervisor and nurse manager.”

“Offering some type of scholarship for the students who are currently in Rider’s RN to BSN and wish to continue onto their MSN would be great,” Montenegro said.

When asked what the advantages were to those that are a part of the program, as it pertains to the pandemic, Prol said that some nurses are unemployed so “this is an ideal time to go back and this may have been a lifelong dream or a passion they have had and now they have that opportunity to go back.”

She said that for nurses that are actively working, “the benefit for them is decreased exposure. You know, they are already in the hospital. For example, I have a student right now in my course that just started this fall, she had an exposure as a nurse and she is sitting at home [in] isolation, but it does not stop her schooling. There is no stop out, there is no, ‘we are going all remote,’ no, we are already remote. So there was really, when the university shut down, our program kept going.”

The program is projected to have eight students and there is a class “hidden,” in waiting for if anyone enrolls for fall B and courses “hidden” for the spring semester, according to Prol.

Prol said that the first concentrations that are “rolling out” are for the family nurse practitioner and the adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. “Probably about almost 70% of students enrolled in nurse practitioner programs are enrolled in family nurse practitioner programs,” she said. “So we really wanted to reach out to people that were seeking that predominant degree.”

She also explained that other concentrations are going to be “rolled out” by fall 2021, including “the psych mental health [nurse practitioner] which we are in desperate need of mental health care providers. The psych mental health [nurse practitioner] can prescribe, can diagnose and can also do counseling. And then also the adult gerontology acute care [nurse practitioner] and they work in the hospital.”

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