Interview with Rachel Borton - Assistant Professor and Director of FNP Online Programs at Bradley University

About Rachel Borton, MSN, FNP-BC: Rachel Borton is an assistant professor and the director of Family Nurse Practitioner online programs for Bradley University’s Department of Nursing. She has taught at Bradley University since 2010, first as an adjunct faculty member and then as a full-time faculty member starting in February of 2011. During her time at Bradley University, Professor Borton has taught a variety of classes, including NUR 204 (physical assessment for undergrads), NUR 207 (medical surgical clinical practicum for undergrads), NUR 306 (maternal newborn theory for undergrads), NUR 307 (maternal newborn clinical practicum for undergrads), and NUR 414 (senior seminar-preparation for professional nursing).

Professor Borton earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Bradley University, and her Master of Science in Nursing degree with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Phoenix. She is nationally certified with ANCC (American National Credentialing Center) as a board-certified family nurse practitioner and works part-time each week at a local urgent care clinic, where she treats patients of all ages as a family nurse practitioner. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Nursing at Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing, where her dissertation focus is how to increase breastfeeding duration in new moms, utilizing various breastfeeding interventions.

Interview Questions

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Could you please provide a brief overview of Bradley University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner programs, and how they are structured?

[Professor Borton]

FNP Certificate:
This is the quickest route to achieving an FNP degree, requiring 43 hours to completion. Candidates for this track would already have a Master of Science in Nursing degree and would then graduate with the Family Nurse Practitioner certificate.

MSN-FNP:
This track requires 61 to 64 hours to complete. Candidates for this route must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, already hold a current RN (registered nurse) license, and have graduated from an accredited institution.

DNP-FNP:
This track is the most time intensive, requiring 79 to 82 hours to complete. Candidates for this program should have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, already hold a current RN license, and have graduated from an accredited institution. They should also have a strong desire to have a Doctorate of Nursing Practice. Nurse Practitioners are being encouraged more and more to achieve a Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

All of the programs mentioned are online and asynchronous and, therefore, do not require any visits to campus; they all have the same level of access to advising and support. Additionally, all of the FNP tracks have common core classes. Courses that would overlap between tracks include Advanced Health Assessment, Healthcare Clinical Practicum I, Healthcare Clinical Practicum II, Principles of FNP Practice II Acute/Chronic, Principles of FNP Practice III Women’s Health, Healthcare Clinical Practicum III, Principles of FNP Practice IV Children, Healthcare Clinical Practicum IV, Advanced Pharmacology II, Principles of FNP Practice V Aging Adult Populations, Healthcare Clinical Practicum V, Advanced Pharmacology II, and Healthcare Clinical Practicum V.

The clinical hour requirements are the same across the different FNP tracks; the only difference comes into play when a student selects the DNP-FNP route, as the DNP clinical hours (seminar hours) are different from the other FNP clinical hours — these would be in “addition” however.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] What went into the development of Bradley University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner Certificate, MSN, and DNP programs and what type of technologies are used for instruction?

[Professor Borton] Bradley University has partnered with Pearson Embanet to develop courses for this program. There are a few courses that are already being taught in the ground master’s program and are being transitioned to the online format. There are a few online tools that will be utilized to provide engagement with the students: UseeU, Typhon, and virtual office hours.

UseeU is an online portal that allows students to work in virtual groups and view each other’s screens, enables faculty to screen-share, and also allows students to upload videos and see each other’s videos and work.

Typhon is an electronic portal that will be utilized for students when they are taking their clinical practicum courses. This portal will link students, preceptors, and course instructors. All the student’s patient documentation will be completed on Typhon. Typhon is HIPPA secure and is also uniquely individualized to FNP students, providing them with the proper ICD10 coding that is required for proper charting. Typhon mirrors EHRs (electronic health records) seen in hospitals that students will have been exposed to and will also be utilizing in the future.

Virtual office hours will be maintained by each instructor on a weekly basis to foster communication with online students. Students may contact instructors via online face-to-face conferencing technology, email, or on the phone — whichever they choose.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Can you please explain how Bradley University’s online FNP programs integrate clinical practicums into their curricula? Does Bradley University’s School of Nursing match students to their preceptors and clinical sites, or does it approve the clinical sites and preceptors that students find themselves?

[Professor Borton] Online students in the FNP program at Bradley University are required to find their own preceptors. They are given a Clinical Packet that identifies preceptor agency qualifications along with preceptor qualifications and are required to obtain documents from the preceptor, which will then be submitted to the FNP director at Bradley University who will “vet” the preceptors and precepting agency prior to students starting clinical.

[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?

[Professor Borton] My best advice comes from my own personal experience of going back to school, having a family, and working as a nurse. I cut my nursing work hours down to 24 hours a week and became a very strict schedule follower. Family time is critical for the student to include in the schedule to help achieve success with school; however, keep in mind that many family events will likely be missed due to homework and projects and clinicals. I would encourage students to keep their mind on the big picture and realize they will not be in school forever. As for clinical placement, because most students are practicing nurses, they already have relationships established with providers and are encouraged to inquire about precepting opportunities with those individuals first.

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

[Professor Borton] The pros of attending Bradley’s online program include enhanced flexibility in many areas. The asynchronous sessions allow students to accommodate their work and family obligations both geographically and in terms of scheduling. We also provide high-quality education with rich course content and have numerous support structures in place so that students can benefit from interactions with advisors and faculty on a regular basis. Examples of these support structures include support coaches who work with the students through the Embanet partnership with Bradley University and also the Bradley faculty advisor. Both parties will work with the students on an individual basis to ensure student success in the program.

Cons include the fact that interaction with peers would be diminished and slightly less direct contact with faculty. Students do still speak with fellow students weekly in discussion sessions and work on projects together but certainly less than in-class students. Faculty have office hours and they are willing to speak virtually, by phone, or email with students, but students would not be seeing faculty weekly in in-seat classes.

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

[Professor Borton] Be sure to follow the directions in the application. There are very specific items that must be included in the application essay (goals, potential preceptors, etc.). Submit a completed packet at time of submission.

References should be submitted by someone in a “supervisory role,” or a professor or colleague who can speak to your academic and/or professional qualifications. GPA requirements are a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) minimum. Potential candidates must include potential preceptors in their admission essay, as well as speak to their own strengths and desire for furthering their academic career. If they have no immediate name of a preceptor, they may list where they think they will find a preceptor.

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

[Professor Borton] The asynchronous nature of our program is definitely a strong benefit. Nurses work varied schedules and many do not work 9 to 5 p.m. or have weekdays off, etc. This program is geared toward the working adult learner. The student will never be required to attend any classes at certain times.

Courses designed to integrate technology with theory. For example, the Advanced Physical Assessment Course utilizes digital avatars licensed from Shadow Health, so students may practice each new physical assessment learned. The avatars actually communicate with the students and are non-scripted. Students may “hover” their mouse over the avatar’s eye and see the background of a “real” eye! Some of these benefits students may not have the opportunity to observe in a “real” patient for years, depending on their own ability to utilize an ophthalmoscope appropriately.

[OnlineFNPPrograms.com] Supplemental Question: Do Bradley University’s online FNP programs currently accept students from all 50 states?

[Professor Borton] These are the states we are currently not accepting applicants from: Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and Tennessee, but this list is subject to change. We currently accept applicants from all other states.


Students who are interested in learning more about Bradley University’s online FNP programs can visit their website for the most up-to-date information.

Thank you Professor Borton for your time and insight into Bradley University’s online FNP programs.


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About the Author: Aaron Tooley, Ph.D. created OnlineFNPPrograms.com 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.