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FNP Overview

The mission of the University of Iowa Family Nurse Practitioner Program (FNP) is to educate nurses through didactic and clinical experiences to enable them to successfully enter into a primary care practice. FNP students at UI's College of Nursing receive didactic and clinical experiences allowing for eligibility to become board certified in Family Practice. Historically, our students have 100% certification pass rate. The University of Iowa DNP-FNP graduates are prepared to be leaders within the nurse practitioner profession and within the U.S. health care system.

Program Design
Our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) curriculum is designed to provide nurses doctorate graduate level education and clinical experience to become and Family Nurse Practitioner. Successful students will graduate with a DNP degree with a FNP specialization and be eligible to sit for the Certification Exam. We have both a three- and four-year BSN to DNP program. This program is a hybrid of online and on-site coursework. We also offer a two-year Post MSN/NP DNP program for APRNs that would like to become certified as a FNP as well as receiving a DNP (hybrid), a two- or three-year  post APRN to DNP (online) and a two-year (4 semester) post graduate FNP certificate (hybrid). At Iowa we also offer a dual certification which graduates are able to be certified as a FNP and one other APRN specialization (i.e. PMHNP). The dual certification is also four years and is a hybrid program as well.

Benefits of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) has recommended the DNP as the graduate degree of choice for advanced practice nurses. The University of Iowa’s College of Nursing was one of the first in the nation to receive approval for the DNP from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) in 2009.

In a landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine recommended that “Nurses should practice to the full extent of their education and training; and, be full partners in redesigning health care in the United States.” The DNP degree will allow FNP’s to be full partners in the developing health care system of the future and provide  high quality, cost-efficient care for which they are known.

Program Sequence
The curriculum follows the University of Iowa academic calendar. There is a week off at Thanksgiving, a month off for winter break, and a week for spring break and two weeks between the spring and summer terms as well as summer and fall terms.

The University of Iowa Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program from BSN to DNP will involve either 3- or 4-years of intense academic study and clinical experience (see plans of study). The curriculum is designed to be completed in either a three- or four-year period, starting each August.

The initial portion of the plans of study provides you with courses that provide a solid foundation in advance nursing practice where you will learn from experts in various specializations. You will follow your cohort through the entire program but in these first two years you will be introduced and develop relationships with others in the Pediatric, Psychiatric/Mental Health and Adult/Gero Nurse Practitioner tracks. This foundation will prepare you for the 3rd year of clinical training and for future practice as a full partner in the future health system.

The middle and final portions begins your intense specialized training in the Family Nurse Practitioner field. During the fall and spring semesters you will be required to receive at least 180 clinical hours each term along with didactic training; in the summer semester you will be required to receive at least 270 clinical hours. At the University of Iowa, you will receive exceptional clinical training in varied settings which may include outpatient, specialty clinic and other areas that may be of interest to you across the state of Iowa. The DNP-FNP program at Iowa also matches you with your preceptors and arranges your clinical experience through the expertise of Angela Melsa-Worrell, clinical coordinator, and Dr. Kerri Rupe, Director. Through the program you will be guided through your clinical experience working toward graduation in which you will have the skills to practice autonomously as a Family Nurse Practitioner.

In the spring semester before graduation FNP students defend their DNP projects.  Sample projects can be found here

The University of Iowa Family Nurse Practitioner program also offers a plan of study to receive post certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner for those wanting a second APRN certification. The plan of study starts in June and finishes in the summer of your second year (4 semesters total). Successful completion of this track will enable this individual to be board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. During this training you are provided the same didactic and clinical experience as BSN to DNP students are provided along with being given credit for all the experience and credits you received with your initial APRN certification.

The University of Iowa Family Nurse Practitioner program also offers a Post MSN/APRN to DNP plan of study for APRNs that would like to become certified as a FNP as well as receiving a DNP, and a Post MSN/APRN to DNP program for FNP providers with a master's degree who want to complete their DNP.  

The University of Iowa is also excited to offer plans of study for Dual Certification with a Family Nurse specialization. This is an extremely intense plan of study where an eligible person could be ready for board certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner along with one of the following specialization: Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner or Adult/Geriatric Nurse Practitioner. This is done in four short years and graduates with a DNP as well. Due to the intensity of this plan of study it is recommended that the individual who undertakes this feat would solely focus on their academic and clinical training; however, the individuals who complete this dual certification would be allowed to define their practices as they see fit. They would also be known for their level expertise in more than just one area of specialization. These individuals would be defined by their exceptionalism.

The academic and clinical experience you receive in the Iowa DNP FNP program surpasses all requirements of the national certifying board exam. The Iowa program has a strong reputation for preparing remarkable FNP clinicians who can practice throughout the state of Iowa and across the nation. The future is bright for primary care providers in the U.S. health care system. 

If you want to explore your potential, then apply and start your journey as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Iowa.