If you are a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) who is looking for more nursing responsibility in the state of New Jersey, you may want to think about becoming a nurse practitioner, also known as an NP. Becoming an NP requires completion of a master’s or doctoral degree, and allows for specialization in areas like family care or adult gerontological care. To top it off, you can find programs in the state that offer master’s level programs online, or partially online, offering opportunities to ‘attend’ class and to complete learning assignments at times convenient to you.
Complete a nurse practitioner track of a master’s of science in nursing (MSN) degree, post-master’s certificate, or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) are the three most common ways for an RN to become an NP. Why consider an NP career in the first place? Not only are NP jobs expected to increase by 22.3 percent in the state in upcoming years, they are expected to grow by 36 percent across the country from 2016 to 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the reasons are many, but include an aging Baby Boomer population, the need for more care in rural and inner-city areas and open positions left by nurses who are retiring.
To become an NP in New Jersey, you need to complete an undergraduate degree and then work on your advanced education, usually in the form of an MSN or DNP degree. To be admitted into a graduate nursing program, you’ll need to prepare, often by gathering letters of recommendation or making sure your undergraduate GPA is up to par. Below are some of the more typical steps for becoming an NP in New Jersey.
An undergraduate nursing education is foundational to learning your nursing basics, whether that’s administering medication or working at the bedside of a patient. Either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) can be completed at this level, but the BSN can be the easiest route for later admission into an NP program. Some programs do allow entry from the associate degree level, but applicants usually need to complete additional courses to be ready for their graduate-level classes.
After finishing their undergraduate degree, students in New Jersey need to seek RN licensing through the state. This is done through the New Jersey Board of Nursing. RN licensure entails taking and passing the NCLEX-RN exam as well as completing several other steps, many of which are detailed below:
Applicants also can find information for RN application by endorsement and application for reinstatement on the New Jersey Board of Nursing website. Thirty credit hours of continuing education need to be completed before each two-year cycle RN license renewal period.
In New Jersey, applicants seeking advanced practice nurse (APN) certification need to complete an approved education program at the master’s level. Students who finish a post-master’s certificate because they already have a master’s level education will need to furnish proof of both their certificate and MSN degree. A three-credit course in pharmacology also comprises part of the education requirements for APN licensure in the state. What is the value of the advanced degree? MSN programs allow you to build specialized, advanced skills in an area of specific practice. In New Jersey, this could include specializations for the family nurse practitioner (FNP), adult gerontology nurse practitioner, or psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, among others. While you may be able to pursue full or part-time enrollment in an MSN program, required clinical hours will give you real-life working knowledge about your chosen NP field.
The process to obtaining NP licensure, or ‘certification,’ within New Jersey is similar to the process in many other states and begins with applying to the state board of nursing. In fact, an instructional document listed on the state website in New Jersey provides a breakdown of these certification steps in more detail, some of which include:
Details for endorsement or reinstating an APN license also are available on the New Jersey Board of Nursing website.
The requirements for admission into online nurse practitioner programs in New Jersey vary from school to school, and some schools offer graduate studies information sessions to help you learn more about the process. That said, there are many requirements that are typically requested as part of the admissions application process, and this begins by filling out the nursing school application.
Filling out the application and completing all background questions about place of residence, degrees completed, and nursing or work experience is the beginning of the admissions process. Nearly all graduate-level nursing programs, either online or campus-based, require students to have a BSN degree. For example, for several of the NP specializations available through Seton Hall University, in South Orange, N.J., a BSN degree from an accredited nursing program is necessary for admission. An active RN license also is often needed, and this includes at Felician University, a Franciscan school, located in Rutherford, N.J., where students also pay $75 for their application fee.
A specific GPA many not always be necessary to seek admission into an MSN or DNP program, but generally schools want to ensure that students were proficient in their undergraduate nursing education, which is why this may be required. At Seton Hall University, a cumulative 3.0 GPA is necessary and Felician University similarly requires a 3.0 GPA for application. Specific types of test scores, like the GRE, also may be required, but neither Seton Hall nor Felician specifies any tests or test score requirements on their admission pages. However, for those applicants from non-speaking English countries, a 79 on the web-based TOEFL or a 550 on the paper version, is needed for admission at Felician.
Many other admissions requirements will vary from school to school and sometimes even for various MSN or DNP degrees within a school. These other admissions can include having specific time on the job (if this is a requirement, it is usually a minimum of a year), letters of recommendation or undergoing an interview. At Felician University, some of these ‘other’ requirements include two academic or professional references, successful completion of undergraduate courses that include health assessment, nursing research, statistics, and pathophysiology, as well as a minimum of a year in practice. On the other hand, Seton Hall University, requires an interview as a requirement for acceptance into its online NP programs, but just proof of an undergraduate course in nursing research.
There are two primary reasons to seek enrollment in an NP nursing program that is accredited. The first is that graduation from an accredited program is often needed to seek national NP certification through an outside testing agency, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), which offers AG-ACNP, AG-PCNP, FNP, PNP-PC, and PMHNP certification, or the Pediatric Nursing Certification Board (PNCB), which offers both pediatric acute care and primary care nurse practitioner testing. In addition, many states require graduation from an accredited nursing program to be able to seek licensing. While the New Jersey Board of Nursing simply requests copies of transcripts from a master’s or doctoral program be sent to its board, students may still find it advantageous to graduate from an accredited program in the state or elsewhere for overall licensing or certification purposes.
Accreditation means that a nursing program has undergone rigorous outside review by a third party or agency. For nursing programs across the country and in New Jersey, accreditation usually occurs through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), formerly the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC). Accreditors for the online NP programs in New Jersey mentioned in this article are as follows:
Patricia Clark Pappas, RN, DNP, CNE, CNL, CCRN-K, is a graduate level instructor for the Caroline D. Schwartz department of nursing at Seton Hall University. She completed her own DNP at the school, but obtained her MSN from Columbia University and her BSN from Villanova University. Although her involvement with online education is not elucidated, her commitment to helping others is clear from her university profile. It reports that she is co-advisor for the school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter and that she traveled to Haiti as part of campus ministry to assist at an orphanage.
Patricia O’Brien-Barry is the professor and chair of MSN education at Felician University. Part of her outreach includes giving presentations, such as “The Influence of Health Disparities: A Call to Action,” in 2011 during an Eastern Nursing Research Society session in Philadelphia. She received her PhD from New York University, her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her undergraduate degree from Seton Hall. She also was formerly an assistant professor at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. Although her involvement in online education is not clear, she is engaged in MSN programming at the school of which the family nurse practitioner and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner programs include online coursework.
At Felician University in Lodi, students have the option of pursuing a post-master’s certificate with a focus in either family nursing or adult-gerontological care. In addition, Felician offers an MSN degree with the same specializations available. Finally, the school also allows students to complete an online RN-to-MSN bridge program in as little as 26 months.
Felician is highly regarded throughout the state of New Jersey. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report ranked Felician among the top 200 schools in its Regional Universities North category in 2018, and Niche considers Felician to be in the top 20 value colleges in the state.
At Seton Hall University, located in South Orange, students have the opportunity to pursue a master of science in nursing in an online setting. Additionally, specializations available in this degree program include adult-gerontological primary care, adult-gerontological acute care, pediatric acute care, and pediatric primary care. The school’s website mentions that an MSN at Seton Hall generally takes between three and four years to complete.
Seton Hall boasts a strong reputation throughout the state of New Jersey, as well as the rest of the country. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report ranked the graduate nursing programs 75th in the country, and the school has a 98 percent AANPCP exam pass rate for students. Additionally, SuperScholar considers these degrees to be among their Top 50 Online Master’s in Nursing Programs among schools in the U.S.
Students may find that even though they enroll for an online nursing program in New Jersey, they still need to head to campus to take specific classes or participate in certain types of learning. These campus-based requirements may not always be detailed on a school website, so students should contact someone in the nursing department if they want to find out more. As an example, Monmouth University posts very few details about how often students need to be on campus for its online education, but Felician university reports that the theoretical portions of its FNP and adult-gerontology tracks can be taken online.
Students also should know that the clinical hours of an MSN program need to be completed in-person at a specific approved healthcare site. While some schools may provide flexibility about where these experiences can be completed, others may want them to be done nearby in the regional area where the school is located.
If you enroll in an online NP program in New Jersey, your clinical experiences will help you build knowledge in your specialty area but to work under the supervision of someone already skilled in the field. However, the number of required clinical hours might vary school to school or even from area to area. As an example, students enrolled in the adult gerontology NP program at Monmouth need to complete 600 clinical hours while those enrolled in the FNP track need to finish 780 clinical hours. If this information is not clear on a website, a student always can call for more details.
In addition, in New Jersey, nurse practitioners work in a reduced practice environment. This means that they need to have a regulated collaborative agreement with an “outside health discipline” to be able to perform several elements of NP practice. For example, New Jersey nurse practitioners cannot prescribe medication without such an agreement. While New Jersey has this reduced practice environment, there are other states in the East or Northeast that allow an NP to fully practice under that state’s board of nursing. These include Connecticut, Maryland, and Rhode Island with others listed on the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) website.