You may be ready for more responsibility in your nursing career or just want to serve your patients in a new and different way. If so, then becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) could be worth your consideration. In fact, the nurse practitioner (NP) career is just one type of several different APRN occupations that are available, but allows you to provide specialized skills, such as in family care, mental health or women’s health, and to take on more roles in collaborative care. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is usually needed to become a NP in Louisiana, but if you already have a graduate level degree, you may be able to complete a post-master’s certificate or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in NP education instead.
While campus-based programs are available, online NP programs in Louisiana offer you the opportunity to complete some or all of your degree through distance learning. Many of the courses offered online are theory-based and have had coursework specifically developed to help provide advanced nursing learning and education through this distance-learning platform. In fact, in Louisiana, the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing (ICMSN) was created to provide more opportunities for nurses to obtain their MSN degree to meet nursing needs in the state. As a result, online courses and degrees are available through several different Louisiana-based schools. Just keep on reading to learn more about online NP programs in Louisiana and how you can take the steps toward achieving more education, developing more skills and working toward more opportunity.
Usually, there are several steps to take to become an NP in Louisiana, starting with completion of an undergraduate education and then working your way up through a graduate-level NP program. It can take six to seven years from start to finish, but even longer when you enroll part-time. The steps to becoming an NP in Louisiana are detailed below:
STEP 1 : Undergraduate Education (duration: 2 – 4 years)All nurses need to begin with a nursing education that introduces them to the basics, such as human anatomy and physiology, administering medicines and the overall foundations of nursing practice. An education can be obtained through a certificate or associate degree program, which can lead to employment as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). However, an associate degree, in some cases, also can allow you to seek licensure to become a registered nurse (RN); it just depends on the scope and training of your associate of science in nursing (ASN) degree program. A bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree covers more fundamental and advanced topics and is usually needed to progress toward an NP degree, which is considered graduate-level education.
STEP 2 : RN Licensure (duration: less than 1 year)RN licensing can be obtained through the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and is necessary to seek employment in the state or elsewhere. Applicants for RN licensing need to:
Nurses also can become licensed by endorsement, streamlining the process if they already have RN licensure in another state.
STEP 3 : Post-Graduate Education (duration: 2 – 4 years)Becoming an NP in Louisiana typically requires nurses to have a master’s of science degree in nursing or a post-master’s certificate. In other states or online programs, you may be able to find a program that takes applicants without an RN license or that allows you to complete supplemental classes to work on an RN-to-MSN degree. In an MSN program, core foundation classes are required before you advance to your specialized area of learning. Practicum hours enable you to round out your learning in your area of concentration and a special project or research paper may be needed, but not always, to complete your degree.
STEP 4 : Obtain Nurse Practitioner License (duration: less than 1 year)The Louisiana State Board of Nursing also oversees NP licensing in the state. To apply for NP licensure, candidates actually fill out paperwork for the advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) license. This APRN licensure covers licensing for a variety of nursing applicants, including nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and others, in addition to nurse practitioners. Among the steps necessary for APRN licensing, you need to:
You also can apply for licensure by endorsement if you have received an APRN license in another state. The state board of nursing is also how you seek prescriptive authority (PA) privileges, too. NPs who want to prescribe medications in Louisiana need to have a letter of approval from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing and submit an original collaborative agreement with a physician as part of their application.
Requirements for admission into NP programs in Louisiana vary, but most enable admissions counselors to develop a fuller picture about your academic background and your likelihood for success. Graduate education is typically more rigorous than undergraduate education. The application process itself can require a significant amount of effort, so you may want to start preparing well in advance to have plenty of time to meet established deadlines. Some of the common admission requirements for MSN programs in Louisiana include:
Application ProcessThe most essential step for applying to an MSN program in Louisiana is to fill out the application, which can often be found online, although a printed copy that is mailed in along with the supplemental materials may be acceptable. To apply to most MSN degree programs, an unencumbered RN license is needed as well as proof of a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Transcripts also are necessary.
GPA + Test ScoresSome schools require students to have a minimum GPA to be eligible for admission into an advanced nursing degree program. Others also require applicants to submit their Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, but this may vary school to school. Both are true at McNeese State University, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, for example, where applicants need to have a minimum 2.75 GPA in their undergraduate classes and a minimum 282 on the combined verbal and quantitative GRE. However, some students may be admitted on a conditional status and take the first semester of classes to prove that they can be academically successful. At McNeese, students with a lower GPA need to obtain ‘B’ grades on all classes within their first 12 credit hours.
Other Common Admission RequirementsBecause schools want to be able to gauge a student’s aptitude for success, a variety of other materials may be requested along with the application. This can include letters of recommendation, an essay (500 words at McNeese), a resume, and a letter of intent or purpose. However, submitting all of the required materials does not necessarily mean you will be accepted for enrollment, as space can be limited in some programs. Finally, even upon acceptance, students often need to meet certain conditions to stay enrolled. For example, at some universities MSN students must show proof of liability insurance, submit a negative drug screen, and have proof of CPR certification and all necessary vaccinations within the first semester.
Nursing program accreditation can be important to seeking APRN licensure and even specialty certifications. In fact, graduation from an accredited program is generally required for these two steps, with most accreditation coming either through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation is an in-depth process that looks at the qualifications of faculty members at a school, the curriculum and training used, and the resources available to deliver a program, among other factors. It can be a lengthy process for a school and require considerable resources, taking up to two years, in some cases, for initial accreditation to be obtained. The five state-based schools in Louisiana that offer online or hybrid programming all have accreditation from an outside institution. These are as follows:
Dr. Dilks is a professor at McNeese State University, is both a certified family nurse practitioner and certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner who co-coordinates graduate level nursing programs at the university. She also completed her own Master of Arts and MSN degrees at the school, and is a licensed professional counselor. In 2011, she received the AANP Louisiana State Award for Nurse Practitioner Excellence, and has received countless other awards and forms of recognition.
Dr. Allemand is an associate professor of nursing at Nicholls State University, has both family nurse practitioner and acute care nurse practitioner certifications as well as cardiac/vascular nurse certification. She has professional affiliations with the Louisiana Association of Nursing Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society, and her areas of research interest include cardiovascular disease, nephrology, pain management and others. Her DNP was completed at the University of Alabama.
Dr. Meeker is a professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, has received a school of nursing research award from SLU as well as a mentoring award from graduating students. Her areas of research include distance education, faculty collaboration and post-up surgical would healing. She also has been co-published in the Journal of Library and Information Services in Distance Learning on the topic of collaborating with librarians to assist online graduate students working within a consortium setting.
Online and hybrid NP programs in Louisiana are available through a number of different schools, all of which have campus-based facilities, but that also offer a broad availability of other degrees and programs, including nursing degrees at the bachelor’s level and even the DNP, in some cases. The list of schools below looks at these online NP graduate-level offerings in Louisiana. Note that the following schools are part of the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing, offering an MSN in family nurse practitioner and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner: McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, and University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Read on for more details.
McNeese State University offers three online options for students wanting to advance in their nursing skills and knowledge. This includes the MSN degree with the family nurse practitioner (FNP) concentration or the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) concentration. There is also a post-master's PMHNP certificate for those who already have an MSN degree. These degrees are 100% online plus the completion of clinicals. The FNP MSN consists of 42 credits for the focused scholarly project option, and 45 credits for the thesis option. The PMHNP MSN degree consists of 48 credits for the scholarly project option ad 51 credits for the thesis option. The program is associated with the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing (ICMSN) and is CCNE-accredited.
Patti Christy, DNP, FNP, APRN-BC is an assistant professor at McNeese who works in the graduate nursing program. She received her DNP from Texas Christian University and is a member of the Louisiana Association of Nurse Practitioners (LANP).
Twila Sterling-Guillory, PhD, FNP-BC, APRN also is an assistant professor at McNeese who is employed with the graduate-degree nursing program. She is a member of Sigma Theta Tau International and has given various types of presentations.
University of Louisiana at Lafayette offers an online MSN with a concentration as a family nurse practitioner. This program is offered 100% online in collboration with the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing (ICMSN) and it is CCNE-accredited. All clinicals must be completed in Louisiana, therefore this degree is best suited for students living in LA. The FNP MSN consists of 42 to 45 credits and takes approximately 5 semesters to complete. Courses may include Generating Evidence for Nursing Practice; Health Assessment and Diagnostic Reasoning for Advanced Practice; Population-Based Primary Care; Advanced Practice Nursing: Family Health I-III; and more.
Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers three nurse practitioner MSN degrees in a hybrid format with some courses delivered on campus only, and others online. Hybrid MSN concentrations include family nurse practitioner, women's health nurse practitioner, and primary care pediatric care nurse practitioner. All three hybrid MSN degrees require a minimum 42 credits for completion and prepare graduates to seek national certification in their area of specialty. Although students do not have to complete a thesis as part of their degree program, they do have to prepare a professional paper, and complete clinicals. The programs are offered part-time and full-time. Due to the hybrid nature, this degree is best suited for those living in the Natchitoches, LA area. Other MSN NP degrees are available fully on campus, as well as two fully online MSN degrees that are not in NP fields.
Dr. Katheryn Arterberry, DNP, FNP-BC has been an associate professor at Northwestern State University for more than eight years, working in the graduate nursing program at the school with family nurse practitioner students. She has been board certified as a family nurse practitioner since September 2008.
Dr. Dana Clawson, DNS, is dean of the College of Nursing and School of Allied Health, but has been a faculty member since 2008. She has helped to obtain more than $1 million in grants to help the school, and has coordinated the women's health nurse practitioner program.
Students can complete an MSN degree or post-master's certificate in psychiatric mental health or an MSN family nurse practitioner degree online at Southeastern Louisiana University. Clinical hours must be completed within Louisiana, but theory courses can be taken through online coursework. Full-time or part-time enrollment is available, but students must complete their MSN degree within six years. The school's pass rate for national certification has been more than 90 percent over the past five years, according to its website. The university is associated with the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing.
Lucie J. Agosta, PhD, APRN is an associate professor at Southeastern Louisiana University, but also the director of the family nurse practitioner concentration. She has multiple professional affiliations and is the recipient of numerous awards. She even received her BSN from the school.
D. Michele Ellis, PhD, RN is an assistant professor at the university who has research interests in psychiatric mental health and nursing education. She should be able to relate to students enrolled in a graduate degree program at Southeastern, since she obtained her own MSN from the school.
Nicholls University, as part of the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing, offers fully online MSN degrees in family nursing and psychiatric mental health nursing. The FNP MSN degree is 42 credits for the non-thesis path and 45 credits for the thesis path plus 600 clinical hours. The PMHNP path is 48-51 credits plus clinicals. Students will be prepared to seek national certification for their specialty area. The consortium colleges work together to provide a comprehensive program for MSN students, in a flexible online format.
Loyola University New Orleans offers an MSN in family nursing with a BSN to MSN track or two pathways for RNs: the RN to MSN Blended pathway or the RN to BSN to MSN pathway which are both bridge options. Furthermore, the school offers a BSN-to-DNP and an MSN-to-DNP family nurse practitioner track. These programs are all online except for requiring 1 campus visit per spring, therefore the number of campus visits required depends on the length of the program chosen. All of Loyola’s online nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, and are designed to help graduates lead teams, organizations, and individuals within the complex healthcare system. As with all graduate nursing programs, practicums are required.
Online NP programs in Louisiana may require you to complete some portion of your training on campus so that you can meet colleagues and professors, find out more about your program, or have shared learning experiences. For example while several are 100% online, Loyola requires one campus visit each spring, and Northwestern State University requires some full courses to be taken on campus.
In addition, required practicum hours will need to be completed at a physical site so that students can gain work experience in a real-life healthcare setting in their specialty area. As noted previously, four of the online NP schools in Louisiana featured in this article, are part of the Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing, which is only one of five in the country, according to the website.
In the state of Louisiana, students in an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) program need to complete 500 clinical hours in their practicum to be able to apply for APRN licensing. These need to be supervised hours in a direct care setting. However, programs that prepare students to practice in multiple care settings or with multiple age groups need to have their students complete more than 500 clinical hours.
In Louisiana, NPs practice under ‘reduced’ authority, meaning that they need to practice in collaboration with a physician or physicians or other type of health care provider. While they also can obtain prescriptive authority, they need to take courses in advanced pharmacotherapeutics, advanced physiology/pathophysiology and advanced health assessment and meet other requirements to be eligible.