Question 1: Is WesternU’s FNP program nationally accredited?
Yes. WesternU’s College of Graduate Nursing’s programs are accredited by WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)-985 Atlantic Venue, Suite 100. Alameda, CA 94570. (510) 748-9001, and professionally by CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) for the MAXIMUM years of accreditation-and they are BRN (Board of Registered Nursing) approved in California.
Question 2: What is a nurse practitioner?
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has received advanced training in diagnosing and treating illnesses, health promotion and disease prevention services. Many are family nurse practitioners, and some specialize in other areas, including:
- acute care
- adult care
- geriatric/elder health
- pediatric/child health
- psychiatric/mental health
- school/college health
- women’s/obstetric-gynecologic health
Question 3: What is the difference between a physician assistant (PA) and a family nurse practitioner (FNP)?
Nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA) practice in the same settings but with a somewhat different focus. In California, PAs must practice under the direct supervision of a physician. NPs must have a collaborative agreement with a physician but he/she is not required to be physically present in the same facility as the physician. Another difference is that an NP practices under his or her own licenses while PAs practice under the physician’s license.
Question 4: What is the pass rate on the National Certification Exam?
All our graduates who have taken the exam have passed!
Question 5: Is this an online program?
The MSN/FNP and the Post Masters FNP are web-based with seminar weekend intensives twice per semester that take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the first year, and Saturday only for the second year (for the MSN/FNP students).
Question 6: What are the benefits of learning in a web-based program?
There are many advantages to a web-based program. First, it allows the master’s-prepared nurse to complete an advanced degree while living and working in his/her own community. This offers the student a great degree of flexibility in scheduling written coursework around job, personal, and family commitments. Second, the one-on-one nature of web-based class discussion groups allows the nursing faculty to get to know students better than in a more traditional classroom group format. Finally, WesternU’s program is designed with the adult learner in mind. Students find the course content to be more relevant to their needs, since they are actively involved in shaping their educational experience.
Question 7: Are WesternU’s web-based nursing programs as rigorous as traditional programs?
Yes. We maintain professional accreditation standards. The curriculum was developed specifically for the Web, and follows national guidelines and standards from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties. WesternU is WASC accredited and offers a full range of degree programs in the medical and allied health sciences. The College of Graduate Nursing received full professional accreditation from the Committee on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in October 2006. The college is California Board of Registered Nursing approved. All graduates to date have passed the national certification exam.
Question 8: How long does it take to complete the Post-Master’s FNP program?
The Post-Master’s FNP program can be completed in three, 15-week semesters. Students who are motivated and have the support of employers and family can structure their time to complete the coursework and the 2-3 days per week of clinical rotations that are required in one year. However, many students need to extend one semester to complete the clinical hours, or choose to take the program over a 2 year period of time to maintain more balance in their busy lives.
Question 9: What computer skills will I need?
Students need word processing skills for typing papers, discussions and written clinical cases. Students must also be familiar with using e-mail. Some student presentations will be done using Microsoft Power Point. While new students do not need this skill on admission, applicants will benefit from familiarizing themselves with this computer program.
Since the computer skills required to navigate and complete our curriculum are not difficult, beginners do very well with some focused skill training. We recommend that applicants find a personal computer mentor, or complete the basic software tutorials prior to beginning the program. All students will need an Internet Service Provider (ISP) prior to registration and will be given a WesternU e-mail account during registration.
Question 10: Is Western U on a quarter or semester system?
It is a 3 semester per year, all year round program—with 1 to 2 week intersessions between semesters. Courses are taken concurrently, not sequentially, for 14 weeks per semester. Please refer to the CGN website for the exact courses that are taken each semester (Fall, Spring and Summer). Most courses are sequential and may not be taken out of order. Courses are offered one time per year.
Question 11: Is there an orientation program before I begin?
All students enrolled in the College of Graduate Nursing will be required to attend the University campus orientation in August prior to beginning classes their first year. This date is locked in and attendance is mandatory. For the College of Graduate Nursing, students must attend Wed, Thur, Fri and Saturday of the Orientation week—known as Welcome Week.
During orientation, students will participate in both college and university sessions. Students will be provided with packets, schedules, and dates for the university orientation program. Students are welcome to invite their family members to attend the annual Convocation and White Coat ceremonies, which occur at the end of orientation week on Saturday. Students will have the opportunity to purchase medical equipment and textbooks.
Question 12: How often do I have to come to Western U in Pomona, CA?
Two campus-based seminar weekends are held each semester for students in Distance Courses. These seminars provide valuable time for faculty and peer interaction, student presentations, lectures, clinical and didactic testing, skills laboratories, and selected clinical practice with faculty. The first seminar weekend usually occurs by week 2 of the fall semester and week 5 in the spring and summer semesters, and the second seminar weekend usually occurs during week 10 of each semester. Seminar weekends generally begin at 8 a.m. on Friday and conclude on Sunday at 5pm.
Dates of the weekend seminars are published on the CGN academic calendar, available on the university website under the CGN homepage. Attendance is mandatory for all seminars (no exceptions).
The MSN/FNP first year or the Post Masters FNP program seminar weekend intensives last three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). The second year of the MSN/FNP program, which concentrates on the Masters courses while continuing in the FNP clinical preceptorships, is one day (Saturday) twice per semester on campus.
Question 13: Where would I stay when I come to campus for a weekend?
Local students drive in each day of the campus intensive weekends. Distance students stay in a variety of local inns, hotels, etc. with shuttle services. WesternU negotiates special rates for our students.
Question 14: Do I have to write a thesis to graduate?
No, the capstone project for the MSN program is a proposed community improvement intervention project and is not a thesis. The APN Master’s Project provides the Advanced Practice Nurse prospective graduate with a final opportunity to demonstrate his or her ability to integrate and apply concepts learned throughout the master’s program in the practice setting. The culminating course requires the student to develop a health care improvement project, which is broad in scope and has implications for community or practice settings. The project offers insight into the unique contributions nurse practitioners make for a specified population.
Question 15: How many hours of preceptorship are required?
Two to three days per week of clinical training are required of full-time
students throughout a two year course of study to complete 750 hours or 4 to 5 days per week for a one year course of study. Following successful completion of the Physical Assessment course, full-time students are expected to complete 1-5 units of clinical training each semester. Fifty hours must be completed for each unit, for a total of 15 units and 750 hours.
Question 16: Can the preceptorships be completed close to my home/work location?
WesternU has a deep pool of clinical preceptorship sites from previous students and our alumni—throughout California and many other states from Alaska to Hawaii. A student’s preceptor may be a physician trained in family practice or internal medicine, preferably board certified, or a master’s degree prepared, certified NP. Additionally, Certified Nurse Midwives are acceptable preceptors for prenatal and gynecology rotations. The College encourages multiple rotations for specific experience if needed to optimize student learning. A student’s preceptor and/or clinical instructor may suggest or assist with identifying and scheduling these rotations. If the preceptor is a physician, the student should also work with a nurse practitioner to promote role development. Due to the distance delivery of the program, students are encouraged to identify qualified preceptors in their community prior to starting the program. If students do not have a preceptor, the Clinical Administrator will assist students with securing a qualified preceptor.
Question 17 What is expected of me during a preceptorship?
You will learn the role of the Nurse Practitioner by taking histories, performing physical exams, determining a diagnosis and a management plan for your patients. Your preceptor will mentor your growth as you apply the knowledge you gained in your didactic coursework to your clinical setting. Your faculty will oversee your growth via site visits, evaluations and competency assessments.
Question 18: What is my liability during the preceptorships?
During your clinical rotations, the University covers all students with accident and malpractice insurance. Additionally, all students are always encouraged to carry and maintain their nursing malpractice insurance as a good practice.
Question 19: How will you assess my preceptorship when it is located out of the state of California?
A “Site Visit” is performed on each student each semester in various ways. Some students receive live ‘on site’ visits by faculty, while others receive what we have developed as a ‘virtual site visit’ via web-cam to the preceptor, camcorder recordings of the site and other evaluations. Additionally, your preceptor evaluates your performance with an assessment tool we have designed to get at outcome competencies. Lastly, we have live “on campus” simulated patient scenarios that each student participates in as faculty assess your skills and competencies. So, overall, you are assessed a great deal for your skills and outcome competencies and you are supported to become skilled practitioners.
Question 20: What types of settings do my preceptorships need to be in and what specialties?
Clinical hours are not restricted to setting, but rather, there are mandated patient populations that must be fulfilled during these clinical rotations. Pediatrics, Obstetrics, Women’s Health (gynecology), Adult, and Geriatrics are the sub-populations that are required to be accounted for in pre-determined numbers. It is recommended that FNP students see approximately 810 patients during their program. The required goal for patient mix is: Pediatrics 15%, Adults 40%, Geriatrics 20%, GYN 15%, and OB 10%.
Students are encouraged to obtain other rotations to complete clinical objectives if they are not in a family practice setting. In addition, students are advised to find Urgent Care and Emergency Room rotations for short rotations for skills and procedures experience.
Question 21: Will past work experience or current certifications held count for a part of the
clinical preceptorship hours?
No, all clinical hours are mandated by the Board of Registered Nursing and the accrediting bodies to be actual patient experiences where the student actually assesses the patient and develops the management plan. Therefore, while they are valued and helpful to the student’s nursing practice strength, any work experience, certifications, CEU opportunities, or other educational experiences may not count for any of the 750 hours.
Question 22: Do I have to take a national certification exam when I finish the FNP program?
Most states require a National Certification Exam to be certified in that state. Some states are in the process of requiring this, while others are not there as yet. There is a national standard being adopted by states across the country, “Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education” that does require national certification for state certification. Many insurers are deciding not to reimburse without a national certification being held by the NP. We encourage all students to sit for a national certification exam to assure practice in their state of choice.
Question 23: Once a student, if I ask a question about the coursework, how quickly can I expect a response?
Our standard is that a response will occur within 72 hours. Faculty are available via phone and e-mail to clarify any questions.
Question 24: As a student, how will my progress be assessed?
All courses include scholarly papers, case studies, presentations, and group participation for problem solving or research. While knowledge is considered the foundation of decision-making, knowledge alone does not assure correlation understanding. Thus, through problem-based learning exercises, online clinical cases, oral presentations, and interactive topical discussions, nursing faculty are able to measure and monitor the acquisition of knowledge, values, self-reflection, and ethical decision making. You must achieve at least a B (80 percent) in each didactic course in order to receive credit.
Question 25: Can I work and attend graduate school at the same time?
Yes. You are encouraged to continue working in your RN role. However, this is a rigorous program and students are encouraged to work part time if possible. Students who work full time have been successful in our program, but they need to have a strong support system (at work and at home) and extremely good organizational skills.
Question 26: How can I learn more about your graduate nursing programs?
There are a number of ways to learn more about us. You’ve taken the first step by coming to our website! For further information or to request an application packet, please contact admissions at (909) 469-5335 or contact us by e-mail. For specific program or clinical questions, please contact the MSN/FNP Director Dr. Diana Lithgow by email at email@example.com.
Question 27: Can I talk to a faculty member about the curriculum?
Sure! Feel free to contact the MSN/FNP Director Khoa (Joey) Dang, DNP, APRN-CNP, FNP-C by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.