1. How does an FNP differ from a Physician's Assistant (PA)?
Very often, FNPs and PAs work collaboratively to provide high-quality care to patients in a variety of settings, but there are differences – both in training and intent. First, just by definition, PAs work directly with, and under the supervision of, physicians. Nurse Practitioners function in a more interdependent role, given their initial training and experience as Registered Nurses – in fact, in many states, Maine included, NPs can function independently within their scope of practice, providing primary care services to families and individuals.
In terms of education and training, most NP programs require that an applicant has a BS in Nursing with several years of work experience, functioning as an “expert nurse”, prior to moving on to become an “advanced practice nurse” (another term for NPs and Nurse Anesthetists) through graduate education leading to an MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing); MSN/NP programs are always offered through collegiate Schools of Nursing. PA programs are graduate programs (MS or MSPA) that require a BA/BS and are almost always run in conjunction with a collegiate-based School of Medicine.
The educational experience for NPs and PAs is in some ways similar and other ways very different – they each receive a considerable amount of training in Pathophysiology, Disease Processes, Pharmacology and Diagnosis & Treatment. PAs receive much more training in terms of hospital-based medicine – general surgery, emergency medicine and orthopaedics – while FNPs (specifically) receive much more training in relation to the care of families in communities, with a major focus on the provision of primary care.
2. What can I do to make my application stand out?
Each Applicant is viewed as a “whole”. Above all, when writing your Admissions Essay -- be honest, be yourself, tell us why you want to be an NP and be SURE to use correct grammar – appropriate usage of terms, spelling and punctuation. If your undergraduate GPA was not stellar (e.g. just over 3.0, the minimum required for consideration), explain the circumstances in a well-written paragraph or two. Above all, take responsibility for your own successes and shortcomings – show that you are an individual who we would be proud to have as a graduate of the Husson University FCNP Program!
What grade must I receive on my Admissions Test to be considered for admission to the program?
Each application is scored individually on a rubric with a numerical assignment for each section. Students are required to take an Admissions Test -- either the MAT (Miller’s Analogies Test) or the GRE (Graduate Records Examination). While there is no specific score required for admission, a high score on either exam receives a higher grade on the rubric and a lower score receives a lower numerical grade
4. What is the minimum GPA requirement for admission?
The minimum GPA required is a 3.0; sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that resulted in applicants having achieved a lower GPA in undergraduate studies. See #2 above!
5. Will I still be able to work as an RN while attending school?
We actually encourage applicants to have recent acute or community-based nursing experience – it’s very important that you are “current” in practice. That said, full-time work is discouraged once students begin full-time study (6 credits or more); students find the workable situation is taking a per diem position that provides them with the flexibility they need to increase or decrease work hours dependent on semester requirements.
6. Who organizes the internship (clinical) experience?
Many programs require students to find their own preceptors. At Husson University, our Internship Coordinator will work with you to find preceptors who are best suited for your needs. Your role will be to provide input into the selection process and follow through with the assigned preceptor as directed by the Coordinator. We are responsible for interviewing new preceptors and ensuring their ability to provide this important piece of education for students, as well as setting up contracts and other necessary paperwork. Since this is an FNP program, our goal is always to set up experiences with experienced NPs, enabling our students to learn the NP role first-hand from the experts. That said, physicians and Physician’s Assistants very often play an important role in both the education and precepting of our students – it takes a village!
7. What will help me to prepare for school?
First of all, be certain this is the career path that is correct for you -- excellent, expert nurses do not necessarily have to become NPs to further their careers – make sure you’ve spent a little time with an experienced NP to be fully certain that becoming a primary care provider in the community is the right course of study for you! There is also a book – Getting What You Came For by Robert L. Peters – that will be extremely helpful for your entry into Graduate School. Look for the sections that specifically deal with the transition from undergraduate to graduate school – it’s a very different animal!
8. How is the coursework structured?
Although there is some flexibility with the course schedule early on, there are many courses that have pre-requisites. All courses in the FNP program are now “hybrid”, meaning there are required times for students to attend class (either virtually or in-person on campus) and the remainder of the instruction is provided via our Canvas © on-line learning system. Once you reach the latter part of the program (the internship courses), you will be required to attend two “summer intensives” – one week sessions in mid-May that include skills and cadaver anatomy labs! Housing is available on-campus.