Online learning is a perfect conduit for nurse practitioner (NP) programs. Many online NP programs feature didactic courses that allow students to attend class at a convenient time, whilst still learning from top-rated faculty. Given that NP students are, without exception, practicing registered nurses (RNs) with busy schedules, the online learning modality tends to make a lot of sense. Currently two schools based in Virginia offer online nurse practitioner programs. Keep reading to learn more about them.
Becoming a nurse practitioner in Virginia involves a good deal of education and hands-on, practical experience, culminating in a graduate degree and a licensure examination. Students graduating from high school should expect to spend a minimum of 6 additional years in school in order to obtain NP licensure. Most nurses end up taking longer on the path because they choose to practice as an RN before pursuing the graduate studies necessary to become nurse practitioners.
After graduating high school, aspiring nurse practitioners should study for an undergraduate degree in nursing. It is expeditious to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nurse (BSN) at this point, although an Associate Degree in Nursing can be a stepping stone for those instances when a BSN is not possible.
Upon obtaining an undergraduate degree, students are eligible to become registered nurses in the state of Virginia. In order to do this, students must complete the NCLEX exam and apply for licensure through the Board of Nursing.
Licensed RNs can further their education and continue down the path to nurse practitionership with either a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree. Interested nurses should expect to spend at least 2 years earning an MSN and 3 or 4 earning a DNP.
Those nurses who were unable to earn a BSN prior to becoming RNs may consider applying for an ADN to BSN bridge program that allows experienced nurses to earn both their BSN and MSN degree simultaneously.
Upon graduation from an accredited program, nurses must sit for a credentialing exam for their chosen specialty. This certification allows nurses to apply for their nurse practitioner license from the state of Virginia. Any of the credentials from the American Nurses Credentialing Center are eligible for licensure.
New applicants for nurse practitioner licensure in Virginia can apply via an online form from the Board of Licensing. If nurses have not yet earned their specialty certification but have met all other requirements (RN license in good standing and a graduate degree), they may be granted a provisional license for up to 6 months while they complete their specialty credentialing exam.
In Virginia, prescriptive authority is granted separately from the nurse practitioner license. Nurses must submit a separate application and fee in order to be able to prescribe medications in Virginia.
The admissions process for nurse practitioner programs in Virginia is similar to that of other undergraduate or graduate admissions. While requirements will vary slightly between schools, applicants can expect to provide:
In Virginia, the online program at Radford University does not require GRE test scores for admissions. The Old Dominion University program requires GRE scores only for those applicants with a GPA of less than 3.5.
It is most common for NP programs to begin in the fall, with applications due sometime in the spring (e.g., March). Some programs do have rolling admissions, which means applicants can submit materials and be admitted at any time.
Nurse practitioners as well as Registered Nurses in Virginia are licensed by the Virginia Board of Nursing. According to board regulations, in order for a graduating nurse to be eligible for a nurse practitioner license in Virginia, he or she must graduate from a program that is accredited by one of the following bodies:
Alternatively, the program can be offered jointly with a school of medicine that holds accreditation that is “acceptable” to the Virginia Board of Nursing.
Dr. Eunyoung Lee is an Assistant Professor at Radford University as well as a practicing Family Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Lee is a fellow of American Heart Association since 2013 and has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Martha N. Hill award from the Cardiovascular Nursing Council of the American Heart Association and the Best Abstract Award of Poster Session at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Virginia Council of Nurse Practitioners.
Dr. Deborah C. Gray is an Associate Professor at the ODU School of Nursing. She earned her DNP from ODU in 2012 and the same year was awarded with the DNP Scholar Award.
Dr. Rebecca Deal Poston is an Assistant Professor at the ODU School of Nursing. She earned her PhD in Nursing from the University of Virginia and has been the recipient of many awards and scholarships and continues to publish and present, mainly on topics concerning pediatric nursing.
Old Dominion University (ODU) offers a number of online and hybrid campus-online programs for RNs including adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist (CNS), family NP, neonatal NP or CNS, pediatric NP or CNS, and nurse-midwifery. The university has its main campus in Norfolk, Virginia and does require some degree of campus visitation in order to complete its programs. The number of required campus visits ranges from about 3 to 10, depending on the program, so all programs require at least some. For example, students come to campus to learn advanced physical assessment and diagnostics in a simulated environment with standardized patients. That said, it's accurate to call all of the ODU online programs at least "primarily online". The programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and allow students to take courses at any time and any location. In addition, students who do not already possess a bachelor of science in nursing may still apply, as long as they hold a bachelor’s degree in a related field.
Dr. Karen Karlowicz is an associate professor and Chair of the School of Nursing and Old Dominion University. She holds an MSN as well as a doctorate in Healthcare Education. Dr. Karlowicz has been the recipient of many teaching awards, including the 2008 Excellence in Technology-Based Teaching Award.
Radford University Waldron College of Health and Human Services offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) online with two Nurse Practitioner concentrations - Family NP and Psychiatric Mental Health NP. One version of the DNP is designed for BSN-qualified RNs, and the other for MSN-qualified RNs. Radford has its main campus located in Radford, Virginia. Applicants who qualify for the program should expect to be interviewed by the program coordinator prior to admission. The US News & World Report has ranked Radford in the top 50 Regional Universities for the Southern region.
Dr. Virginia Burggraf is the Marcella Griggs Endowed Professor of Gerontological Nursing at Radford University where she is also the Coordinator of the Graduate Program. Dr. Burggraf has extensive experience in nursing as well as teaching. In 2015 she received the AJN Book of the year Award for her work on Healthy Aging.
Dr. Kereen Mullenbach is an Associate Professor at the Radford University School of Nursing where she has worked for over 15 years. Dr. Mullenbach has been awarded numerous grants for her nursing research and has been invited to present at a range of conferences, particularly on long term care and nursing education.
Online programs do not clearly or uniformly indicate their campus visitation requirements in their informational materials. Further, campus visitations can vary from year to year depending on courses and professors. That being said, the following table can give an overall view of those programs in the state that meet our criteria for fully or primarily online programs.
All nurse practitioner programs require hands-on clinical experience. NP programs refer to this clinical training as a preceptorship, wherein students work closely with an experienced nurse practitioner, who becomes their preceptor. This can be one of the most valuable experiences in a nurse practitioner’s education.
Online students will need to find a clinical preceptor that is convenient for them. Schools may be able to assist in finding a willing preceptor, but often much of the onus is put on the student to find someone to work with. Without this clinical experience, nurses will not be able to graduate from their nurse practitioner program and therefore will not be eligible for licensure.
Nurse practitioners who do receive their specialty credentials and license in Virginia can expect considerably more autonomy than in some other states, although they still must work in collaboration with a physician and are unable to complete prescriptions independently. Nurse practitioners in Virginia are, however, able to: