Two universities offer online degree programs in the family nurse practitioner (FNP) specialization in Virginia. Old Dominion University offers a master’s (MSN) with an FNP specialty for RNs with bachelor’s degrees in nursing (BSN) or non-nursing subject areas. Old Dominion also administers a doctoral (DNP) program for aspiring FNPs who are already BSN or MSN degree-holders. Radford University offers a BSN and a master’s track to the DNP-FNP as well.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits the online FNP programs offered by Old Dominion and Radford Universities. It unclear whether the DNP offerings at either school are administered entirely online or in a hybrid format, with both online and on-campus components.
A more detailed description of these programs and information on FNP licensing requirements in the state of Virginia are provided below.
Program Information: Online Family Nurse Practitioner Programs in Virginia
The School of Nursing at Old Dominion University has been training family nurse practitioners for more than 20 years. The curriculum focuses on the critical thinking and clinical problem-solving skills that advanced practice nurses need to provide a full range of primary care services to individuals of all ages with particular attention to the needs of rural populations. In-depth study, research, and clinical practice prepare FNPs to provide health maintenance and restorative care to patients who are at-risk and chronically ill, as well as health promotion and education to clients who are well.
A unique collaboration with the Sentara Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning at Eastern Virginia Medical School affords students the opportunity to participate in simulated learning experiences where they can apply their learning to real-life healthcare scenarios.
While the family nurse practitioner MSN at Old Dominion is offered primarily online, some courses include live, televised classes that require attendance either in person or through video-streaming. Students are also expected to attend sessions in Norfolk at least one time per semester to work with standardized patients in the simulation-based learning experiences mentioned above. GRE scores are waived for students with a 3.5 GPA or higher in their BSN degree program; however, one year of recent clinical nursing experience is required of all applicants.
The MSN-FNP is offered only in a full-time format, and those wishing to move into the DNP program must declare their intent by the end of the first semester of the master’s program. The doctor of nursing practice prepares nurses for positions as researchers, business owners, and expert clinicians. Particular emphasis is placed on the transformation of healthcare in the communities of underserved and vulnerable populations.
The DNP can be completed with either full- or part-time study; however, a lack of clarity regarding the extent of its online delivery has prevented it from meeting our standards for distance-learning programs (i.e., requiring less than nine total campus visits).
Radford University has pathways to the DNP for nurses with BSN, MS and MSN preparation in both full- and part-time online formats. The post-baccalaureate program consists of 81 credits of coursework, while the post-master’s requires 30. The curriculum was developed in alignment with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing DNP Essentials and course topics include chronic and acute illness across the lifespan, advanced family nursing, health assessment, and pharmacology, and evidence for advanced nursing practice.
FNP programs at Radford are also enhanced by simulation experiences, and in addition to its CCNE recognition, its nursing programs are accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare. DNP students log more than 1,000 clinical practice hours by the end of the program, which culminates with an individually-designed residency based on students’ learning needs and career goals.
The university describes its family nurse practitioner DNP as a distance-learning program with online, web-based classes. However, the lack of clarity regarding on-campus program requirements makes it difficult to accurately assess the feasibility of the programs for candidates with time and geographic constraints.
FNP Licensing Requirements in Virginia
Nurse practitioners must be licensed through the Boards of Nursing and Medicine before practicing in the state of Virginia. To gain licensure, family nurse practitioners must submit the following to the Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing:
- A completed online application and $125.00 non-refundable fee payable by check or money order, made out to the Treasurer of Virginia and forwarded to the board (online payments may be paid by debit or credit card)
- Proof of current RN license from the state of Virginia or a compact state
- Verification of professional certification in the family nurse practitioner specialty area sent directly from the certifying body to the Board by mail or email
- Official transcripts sent directly from FNP graduate degree program to the Board by mail or email
Nurse practitioners with a current, unrestricted license in Virginia may apply for prescriptive authority by completing an online application, paying a $75.00 fee, and submitting one of the following to the Virginia Department of Health Professions Board of Nursing by email:
- Verification of current certification as a family nurse practitioner
- Evidence sent to the Board of Nursing office of successful completion of a graduate-level course in pharmacology or pharmacotherapeutics obtained in the last five years as part of an NP program
- A statement from a supervisor documenting at least 1,000 hours of practice in each of the previous two years and copies of documents verifying 15 hours of continuing education in each of the last two years
- Documentation of 30 hours of education in pharmacology or pharmacotherapeutics over the previous five years
FNPs are also required to have a practice agreement with a licensed physician to exercise prescriptive authority. NPs adding a specialty area to an existing license in Virginia must request a paper application from the Board of Nursing. Applications cannot be submitted online in such cases, but supporting documents can be emailed to the Board. Processing time for licensing ranges from 30-45 business days.