Interview with Dr. Kelly Skinner from the University of Central Missouri

Dr. Kelly Skinner

About Dr. Kelly Skinner: Dr. Skinner has been the program director of the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Central Missouri (UCM) since 2013. She is also a family nurse practitioner and currently practices at Midwest Infectious Disease Specialists in Independence, Missouri. She is board certified as a family nurse practitioner by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). Dr. Skinner earned her BSN and MSN from Research College of Nursing in Kansas City, and her doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. In addition to directing the FNP program at UCM, Dr. Skinner currently teaches Pharmacology, Adult and Elderly II, and the final practicum.

Interview Questions

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

[Dr. Skinner] The University of Central Missouri’s online MSN program focuses on cultivating the necessary skills, knowledge, and perspectives for advanced practice nursing, while also giving students experience in applying research principles and processes to clinical phenomena. Our program has a rural health focus, and was previously called the “Rural Health Nurse Practitioner” program; however, as we now also emphasize urban care where the need for care is substantial, we dropped the Rural Health part of our title.

The FNP program at UCM is currently an online program but we do require 3 on-campus days throughout the program. These days include on ground testing, simulated site visit experiences, and educational events such as suturing or X-Ray interpretation. This schedule allows working students the flexibility to attend courses while continuing to pursue their career goals.

Students are held to the same standard in our online program as they are for on campus programs. The FNP program at UCM is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and all courses meet the standards as defined by our accrediting body.

[] Can you please explain how UCM’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. Skinner] As part of their development of professional networking skills, students are required to locate and secure their own clinical sites. All sites are evaluated and approved by the clinical course instructor in compliance with the National Task Force standards. We do offer suggestions for sites to students but the process of securing and getting approval for that site is the student’s responsibility.

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

[Dr. Skinner] Being a member of the nursing profession requires considerable time management and organizational skills. Students must apply those skills to the job, as well as their family and educational commitments. Our program is part time so students often seek a program such as ours so that they have more ability to balance their work, home and school life. Most students find that the clinical component is a great learning experience and really enjoy it.

[] What are some of the pros and cons of attending a graduate nursing program online? What support structures are in place within UCM’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. Skinner] A pro of the online learning environment is the ability to manage your time according to your schedule rather than having to commit to being in class on certain days. The time management can also be a con for students who do not have the ability to manage their time effectively. Another con is the lack of student interaction with faculty and peers. We have worked diligently to resolve this issue by encouraging student and faculty interaction through discussion boards and the 3 on campus days with the FNP faculty present. I am the academic advisor for the full FNP program and maintain contact with students through personal visits, the on ground component and frequent emails or phone calls. I try to be very receptive to student needs.

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

[Dr. Skinner] My advice for BSN students would be to make sure that you maintain a competitive GPA. Our admission criteria are currently undergoing revision, but GPA will remain an important component of our admission criteria. We are discussing holistic assessments and future implementation of this at a date yet to be determined.

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

[Dr. Skinner] UCM has a program that is structured to allow you to take 3-6 credit hours per semester as your family and work life allows. Instructors are all board certified nurse practitioners who have completed their education while working and being involved with family so they understand the commitment needed to succeed, and the challenges that students can face when completing their education. The practitioner who teaches the women’s health component is a board certified Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, and the pediatric component is taught by a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner. All other family concentration courses are taught by board certified family nurse practitioners. The practitioners who teach in our program are highly educated and maintain current practice in their field of concentration in order to remain current on the standards of practice.

[] Optional Question: Does UCM currently accept students from all 50 states for its online FNP program?

[Dr. Skinner] Students must complete the clinical portion in the greater Kansas City area. This includes Missouri and Kansas.

Students who are interested in learning more about the Family Nurse Practitioner program can visit the University of Central Missouri’s website for the most up to date information.

Thank you Dr. Skinner for your time and insight into UCM’s Family Nurse Practitioner program.

About the Author: Aaron Tooley, Ph.D. created to help nursing students find and research online APRN programs. He is dedicated to creating best in class content with accurate data and unique insights about graduate programs and careers in nursing.