Family Nurse Practitioner

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the role of the Family Nurse Practitioner?

Family Nurse Practitioner graduates are prepared to provide primary health care to people of all ages, with an emphasis on health promotion and health maintenance. Family Nurse Practitioners make assessments, order and interpret diagnostic tests, make diagnoses, and initiate and manage treatment plans – including prescribing medications.


Do I have to be a nurse to enter the specialty?

No. You can enter this specialty as a BSN or MSN or if you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing. If you have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a field other than nursing, you can complete a one year full-time baccalaureate equivalent program (PreSpecialty Year - Clinical Experiences), and then progress to the Family Nurse Practitioner specialty. If you have a BSN, you enter directly into the specialty course work. All students, regardless of entry type, graduate with a MSN.


How many students are accepted into this specialty each year?

We encourage you to apply to the specialty that meets your career interest rather than focus on the number of spaces available. We strongly recommend that you complete your application by the October 15th early action date to have a greater probability of being admitted. The number of students offered admission can vary each year based on many factors.Typically, we admit about 70 students each year.


Do I need RN work experience?

No. You can enter the specialty without RN work experience.


Does the school accept transfer credit?

Matriculated students can transfer up to six semester credits of equivalent graduate level coursework from another accredited university to be applied toward the MSN. You must complete this petition and return it, along with the corresponding course syllabus, to Sara Donahoe. Courses completed elsewhere must have been taken within the last five years. The decision is based on equivalent content (for required courses), credit allotment, and satisfactory completion of the courses..


I have an MSN degree, does the school have a post-master’s option?

Yes. An applicant may apply to the post-master’s option only or as part of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. We recommend you consider the DNP with a post-master’s plan of study. The post-master’s plan of study is located under “Curriculum Plans.” A gap analysis to determine if courses can be waived will be completed after a letter of admission is offered. Additionally, post-master’s students attend courses in a hybrid learning format which requires travel to campus for face-to-face classes ten times during the academic year (See sample of block schedule).


Can I work full-time and go to school full-time?

We strongly recommend that students do not attempt full-time school and full-time work. The few students who have successfully completed full-time school and work used flex time or accrued compensatory time to continue to work full-time. Some have used a Baylor plan (weekend shifts).


Can I take this specialty via the modified distance learning format?

Yes, this specialty is only offered via the modified distance learning format and you do not need to give up employment or relocate to Nashville unless it is your desire. If you do not have a prior nursing background, you must first complete your PreSpecialty Year on campus in Nashville before progressing to the master’s portion of your education which is taught via a modified distance learning format.


What is the modified distance learning format?

Modified distance learning specifically means that you will do a portion of your course work online via taped lectures and web conferencing to integrate the material. A portion of your work requires on-campus learning in blocks of time,followed by seminar and online discussions. Where possible, you can do your clinical practicum experience in your home area or a geographical area of your choice, if you choose. You will be in continuous contact with your professors throughout the program and in between sessions.


Can I take this specialty part-time?

Yes, however you are required to follow a pre-determined plan of study. Length of time to complete the entire program varies depending on your background prior to VUSN enrollment. If you are not a nurse, the first year is only offered full-time. You can request to change to part-time for the specialty components of your MSN. (part-time curriculum plans)


What housing options are there for students participating in the modified distance format?

Our Admissions Office has a listing of hotels nearby the VUSN campus and students usually “buddy” to share low cost hotel rooms. Some students stay with local classmates.


What is the specialty portion of the curriculum like?

Our Family Nurse Practitioner specialty is offered in a modified distance format. All students attend blocks of on-campus sessions approximately one week each month. Specifically, these monthly on-campus blocks are three to five days at a time and are typically scheduled during weekdays.Students must also attend VUSN’s mandatory orientation.


How many times do I need to visit campus?

Students are on campus ten times over a one-year period.


What are the clinical requirements for this specialty?

There are 630 clinical hours required.


How do you match me with clinical preceptors?

The key to a student’s success in the distance format is a clinical placement with a qualified preceptor who is supporting and willing to mentor the student. That’s why we view clinical placements as a required and integral part of your education. Faculty work diligently to match you with appropriate preceptors so you can learn from clinical mentors and start applying your new skills and knowledge. We make every reasonable effort to accommodate a student’s placement request.


Is travel required as part of my clinical placements?

Travel is often a requirement of the specialty, as we strive to give the student a vast array of clinical experiences to enrich the student experience (block schedule). Students placed within the Middle Tennessee area may have to drive a maximum of two hours one-way to their clinical rotation. Students completing rotations outside of the Middle Tennessee area may have to drive up to two hours one-way from their residence to their clinical rotation.


Upon graduation, what credential and certification will I be eligible to obtain?

Graduation from this MSN specialty prepares you to take the national certification exams, offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners – Board Certification. Passage of either exam is required in most states to obtain a license as an advanced practice nurse. Your credentials will depend on which certification you take and pass.


What is the VUSN student pass rate on the certification exams?

Everyone will be well prepared for the certification exams as our students typically score well above national averages on these exams. More Info >


Will I earn my nursing license?

If you enter without a nursing degree, you will take the NCLEX to obtain your Tennessee RN license after your first year of study.


Can I earn a DNP degree?

Yes!  Our both the MSN and Post-master’s certificate programs are designed for you to seamlessly transition to our DNP program.  After successful completion of one semester of the specialty year curriculum, you complete an abbreviated application to indicate your interest in progressing to the DNP program; no additional application fee is required. Either you can progress directly into the DNP program or you can take a gap year to work as an APRN before starting the DNP program. The advantage of earning the MSN degree before the DNP degree is that you will be able to work as an APRN during your DNP program. The DNP program is designed for APRNs who are working full or part time. See DNP program details