Interview with Dr. Jan Rice - Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing Programs at Graceland University

About Jan Rice, PhD: Dr. Rice is the Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing Programs at Graceland University. She has been a nurse educator since 1990 and has been teaching at Graceland since 2007. She holds a BSN from Avila College, an MSN with a concentration in Adult Clinical Nurse Specialist from University of Missouri-Kansas City, and a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction with a minor in Nursing & Pathophysiology from the University of Kansas. Her clinical areas of expertise are adult critical care, cardio-pulmonary disease, anatomy & physiology, pathophysiology, nursing education, and research. Her areas of research interest include effective teaching and testing strategies, student learning outcomes, student satisfaction and attrition, assessment of clinical competencies, scholarly culture, and faculty development. Dr. Rice’s professional nursing experience includes: ICU staff nurse, Director/Unit Manager ICU, Staff Development & Community Education Director, Case Manager, Critical Care CNS, SON Faculty, and Higher Education Administration. She currently teaches Advanced Pathophysiology and Application of Research for Best Practices in the MSN program at GU.

Interview Questions

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please provide a brief overview of Graceland University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program, and how it is structured?

[Dr. Rice] Our curriculum is based on the CCNE Standards for accreditation, AACN Essentials for MSN Education and NONPF competencies. The MSN-FNP program of study is a total of 47 semester hours (s.h.) with 23 s.h. of MSN core (Nursing Theory, Evidence-based Practice, Application of Research for Best Practices, Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnostic Reasoning, Advanced Practice Competencies Lab, Pharmacotherapeutics, Advanced Pathophysiology) and 24 s.h. of FNP specialty track, (Advanced Practice Nursing in Primary Care, APN Professional Roles and Issues, Primary Care-Pediatrics, Primary Care-Adults, and 3 population focused practicum experiences (pediatrics, adults, and family) for a total of 720 practice hours.

Course design and delivery incorporate best practices for online teaching and learning to support student achievement of expected learning outcomes. MSN-FNP courses are offered year round and delivered online via the eCollege learning platform within a sixteen week trimester. There is a 1-2 week break between each trimester. All students come to campus one time during the program of study for a two-day on-site advanced practice competencies skill laboratory that includes live-model sensitive exams (male & female), diagnostic clinical simulation scenarios, hands-on learning experiences for selected primary care practice procedures, and pass/fail advanced practice competencies assessment.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Can you please explain how Graceland University’s online FNP program integrates clinical placements into its curriculum? Does the program match students to their preceptors and clinical sites, or does it approve the clinical sites and preceptors that students find themselves?

[Dr. Rice] Students complete all practice hours in their home community under the direct supervision of an approved advanced practice preceptor (FNP or MD) in a primary care setting. Students are solely responsible for contacting preceptors and practice sites to arrange practicum experiences. Preceptors and practice sites are reviewed and approved by full-time clinical faculty. An electronic database of approved preceptors and practice sites is available to students.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Clinical placements are a major component of FNP programs and a considerable time commitment. How do you recommend students balance their clinical hours requirements with their other responsibilities outside of school, such as a job or personal commitments?

[Dr. Rice] All MSN-FNP courses are offered every trimester. Full-time and part-time completion plan options are available. Students may enroll in only one practicum course at a time and should expect to complete 12-16 practice hours per week to meet the minimum course requirements of 240 practice hours and 180 patient encounters. A processing fee may be assessed for revisions to program of study–for example, if a student decides to transition from full time to part time or vice versa.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What are some of the pros and cons of attending a graduate nursing program online? What support structures are in place within Graceland University’s online FNP program to help students not fall behind? What are the advantages of an online program as opposed to an on-campus program and vice versa?

[Dr. Rice] Successful students in online graduate nursing programs are self-directed, motivated and well-organized. Effective communication skills, time-management and strong support systems are also important. Faculty, staff and support services (library, program advising, financial aid, IT help, etc.) are accessible via email, telephone, personal internal myGU pages, and public websites). A public and private virtual office is available within each online course-site for student-faculty interactions. Online course-sites and a technology help-desk are available to students 24/7. Faculty check email and log into course sites regularly to participate in discussions, respond to student questions, monitor student progress, and provide feedback on learning activities and assessments. Faculty post anticipated response times for questions that students may pose via email or other avenues. As a general rule, students should allow 24-48 hours for response to questions and 7-14 days for evaluation and feedback on graded assignments.

Students should expect to be engaged in course-related activities a minimum of 4-5 hours/week for each semester hour in which they are enrolled. Advantages of online education are flexibility, accessibility, self-directed and individualized learning, high level of personal engagement and increased level of student learning outcome achievement.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] For registered nurses who are interested in Graceland University’s online FNP program, what advice do you have for them regarding how they can submit a competitive application?

[Dr. Rice] Our applicant pools are large and highly competitive. Strong letters of recommendation and GPAs that exceed the minimum requirement of 3.0 are highly recommended. Students enrolled in our RN-MSN program are granted unimpeded matriculation to the MSN program of study upon completion of the BSN level courses with a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What makes Graceland University’s online FNP program unique, and a particularly strong degree option for RNs who want to advance their career and become FNPs?

[Dr. Rice] Experience, quality and commitment to excellence are what set Graceland University School of Nursing apart. We were among the first to offer online education and have been ranked in the top 10 of online nursing programs by US News and World Report. Faculty and staff are well-qualified, have a strong commitment to the institution, each other and our students. Faculty and staff genuinely like and care about their work and each other. Our strong sense of caring and community is extended to our students and the many professional colleagues with whom we collaborate to provide the highest quality of education.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Does Graceland University’s online FNP program currently accept students from all 50 states?

[Dr. Rice] Currently, we are not accepting applications from Maryland, New York, North Carolina and Louisiana.


Students interested in learning more about Graceland University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program can visit the School of Nursing’s website at www.graceland.edu/nursing/.

Thank you Dr. Rice for your time and insight into Graceland University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program.


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About the Author: Kaitlin Louie is the Managing Editor of OnlineFNPPrograms.com, and creates informational content that aims to assist students in making informed decisions about graduate programs. She earned her BA & MA in English from Stanford University.