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Online Nursing Master's Program Stresses Leadership

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, May 14, 2013

An online university program for aspiring family nurse practitioners promises "an exact replica" of the rigorous clinical and leadership training offered on campus.

Despite their growing prevalence in the world of higher education, the phrase "online university" still has a stigma attached to it, conjuring images of attending classes in pajamas and earning easy mail-order degrees.

But when the online university is an extension of an already successful, rigorous, and prestigious nursing school, it's a different story.

And when a shortage of primary care providers meets a glut of newly insured patients, it's in the nursing community's best interest to embrace the kind of learning that promotes and expands leadership education and can prepare a new generation of advanced practice nurses.

Enter Nursing@Simmons, an online master's degree program for aspiring family nurse practitioners from Simmons College School of Nursing and Health Sciences in Boston.

SNHS Dean Judy A. Beal, D.N., Sc, RN, FNAP, FAAN, says the new online program, which begins in the fall, "is going to be an exact replica of what we do here. The same level of rigor, the same innovative curriculum, same program."

"There is a significant nursing shortage, and there's also a significant shortage of nurse practitioners," Beal told me last week. "Physicians, in general, are not all that interested in primary care; they're more interested in specialty care… family nurse practitioners are very well poised to provide primary care. That's what we do best."

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