Nurse practitioners (FNPs) are advanced practice registered nurses with specialized, graduate training in providing healthcare across the lifespan in primary or acute care settings. The Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners describes the role of a nurse practitioner (NP) as “a registered nurse who is prepared, through advanced education and clinical training, to provide a wide range of preventive and healthcare services to individuals of all ages.”
NPs do many of the same healthcare-related tasks as physicians. They perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat common acute and chronic problems, interpret lab results and imaging, and prescribe and manage medications and treatment options. They provide training and counseling on the prevention of disease and the maintenance of wellness and refer patients to other health professionals as needed.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that openings for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who work as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners is slated to increase 31 percent between 2016 and 2026, which is nearly five times the average for all occupations. What’s more, according to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, more than 40 percent of RNs in the state’s workforce in 2017 were over the age of 50. This means that in the next 20 years, there will be a stronger need for nursing professionals in all specialty areas in Oklahoma as RNs retire.
NPs in Oklahoma have the support of two associations, the Oklahoma Nurses Association and the Association of Oklahoma Nurse Practitioners. Several graduate programs in the family nurse practitioner specialization are available in the state, offered in hybrid formats to combine the best in online and face-to-face instructional modalities.
This article covers the steps to becoming a nurse practitioner in Oklahoma, including a typical career timeline and professional credentialing, notable professors, and hybrid NP programs and pathways. In the absence of online nurse practitioner programs based in the state, this piece profiles several Oklahoma online-campus hybrid programs.
In the state of Oklahoma, those who wish to pursue an advanced degree as a nurse practitioner must first complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited NP program. Diploma and associate’s degrees in nursing typically take two years, whereas a bachelor’s degree (BSN) takes four years.
Upon completion of an approved nursing degree, aspiring NPs must pass the national certification exam to be awarded a license as a registered nurse. Eligible candidates can register with the testing service of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to take the NCLEX-RN licensure examination and gain access to practice materials and related information. Many programs would like students to have at least a year of clinical experience as an RN before applying to a graduate-level program.
To be licensed as a certified nurse practitioner, RNs must graduate from an accredited graduate-level nursing program: a master of science in nursing (MSN) or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are the most prestigious accreditation bodies. Upon completion of such a program, including required credits and clinical practice hours, candidates may be eligible to apply for national certification in their specialty area.
There are various NP specializations, including family health (FNP), pediatrics, women’s health, and psychiatric-mental health, among others. For example, FNP candidates for licensure in Oklahoma must pass a national certification exam through either the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCB). After passing the certifying exam, candidates may apply for licensure in the state of Oklahoma.
Once the other steps have been realized, candidates are eligible to apply to the Oklahoma Board of Nursing for licensure as a certified nurse practitioner. To do so, NPs must submit the following:
The following are commonly required for admission to an NP program:
In addition, some schools require:
All non-resident applicants must ensure that they are a resident of a SARA-approved state before applying for admission to an Oklahoma-based NP program.
Dr. Costner-Lark is the current program director of the FNP program at the University of Oklahoma. She has worked as an FNP for more than 15 years in various healthcare settings. At the University of Oklahoma, she has been a curriculum coordinator and chairperson for both the faculty leadership board and faculty assembly. She is the founder of Costner Medical Missions, a non-profit organization that sends medical and dental volunteers to South America to provide healthcare services to indigenous populations.
Dr. Clark’s research interests include health literacy and measuring clinical competence and empathy in APRN students. She completed her BSN at the University of Pittsburgh, MSN at Gannon University, and DNP at Duquesne University.
Dr. Crawford currently serves as the chair of the advanced practice program and director of the family practitioner program at OKCU. Her areas of research and special interest include rural healthcare, underserved populations, intimate partner violence and service learning in nurse practitioner education. Dr. Crawford practiced with her father, a family physician, for seven years at Okarche Medical Clinic.
She completed both the bachelor of science in nursing and master of science as a family nurse practitioner at the University of Oklahoma and her doctoral degree at Oklahoma City University.
Dr. Wells has more than 30 years of experience teaching BSN, MSN and DNP programs and more than 20 years of online teaching experience. Her research interests include health policy and healthcare workforce issues, and she possesses specialized expertise in the areas of adult nursing, health policy and ethics, and healthcare and labor economics.
Dr. Wells is the current chair of the department of nursing at Northwestern and is a recipient of the Nightingale Award of Nursing Excellence awarded by the Oklahoma Nurses Association. She holds a doctoral degree in nursing, a master of business administration (MBA), and a master’s in nursing from the University of Missouri, Kansas City.
The BSN-to-DNP NP degree program at OKCU entails 67 credits of coursework delivered in a hybrid format. It’s available in the family health and adult-gerontology acute care specializations. Lower-level courses take place on campus, while upper-level courses are concentrated online and begin with a three-day in-person intensive. Courses include advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, health assessment, policy and theory development, primary care of women and children, adult-care, and geriatrics, among others.
No GRE is required for admission; however completion of undergraduate statistics and a BSN-level health assessment course must be completed prior to the initial semester of study. Notably, a 20-credit post-master’s certificate is available to APRNs wishing to gain expertise in the two available specialty areas.
The BSN-to-DNP with a family nurse practitioner specialization is the university’s first doctoral program, which enrolled its first cohort in August of 2017. One of two public universities offering a DNP program in Oklahoma, the FNP doctorate is a practice-focused program, emphasizing rural healthcare.
The hybrid format requires that students complete 73 credits online and 1,020 clinical practicum hours in their home communities. This is combined with a required one-week summer residency program at the Alva campus prior to the clinical component. Students defend their capstone projects during the last semester of the program, also on campus. Participants opting for the full-time plan may complete the DNP in three years, while part-time students will adhere to the four-year plan. RNs who are already in possession of an MSN/FNP with licensure in their home state may be considered for the advanced placement DNP option, which entails 37-39 hours of coursework.
The program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University has provisional approval from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing and is seeking accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which it expects to have by 2020.
The hybrid MSN-FNP at UOHSC prepares advanced practice nurses for work in various healthcare settings including clinics, hospitals, local health departments, corporations and state or federal agencies as well as in educational institutions and correctional facilities. The focus of the NP practice is the promotion of wellness promotion and prevention of disease. NPs prepared in UOHSC’s program are able to perform health assessments, diagnose patients, manage healthcare, prescribe medicines and evaluate care for persons who are ill, injured and/or have chronic diseases, all in collaboration with medical teams,.
The 47-credit program can be completed in two years of full-time study or three years of part-time study. It is administered in a hybrid format with on-campus coursework combined with web-based instruction and assignments. All classes are enhanced by internet-based activities, and many are offered by Internet Protocol Video (IPV) conference. Learning activities are often completed at home and shared electronically. Applicants must hold an active RN license in the state of Oklahoma and a minimum of 700 clinical hours must also be completed in state.
Please note that the school offers a 35-credit-hour FNP post-master’s certificate as well as a 38-credit MSN-to-DNP program.