Denise Neill (Department Head, Associate Professor of Nursing)
Location: Nursing Building, Room 216, 903-886-5315, Fax 903-886-5729
Nursing Web Site

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) are the providers of choice for millions of Americans due to their track record of providing quality care to persons of all ages and walks of life.  FNPs bring a unique perspective to health care with an emphasis on both caring and curing.  FNPs diagnose and manage acute, episodic, and chronic illness.  FNPs also focus on health promotion, disease prevention and healthier education and counseling, helping guide patients and their families to make smarter health and lifestyle choices. 

Nurse practitioners are needed to meet the growing demand for primary health care.  As a nurse practitioner you will blend your nursing and communication skills with advanced practice skills in taking patient histories, performing physical exams, ordering labs, interpreting lab results, diagnosing, prescribing pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments and educating patients and families about health care issues.

The MSN Family Nurse Practitioner program can be completed in 3 years with part-time study.  The program is offered in a hybrid format.  Courses are online with scheduled intensives and face to face clinical time.  Students work with faculty and preceptors who have nurse practitioner experience.

The Master of Science in Nursing program prepare Family Nurse Practitioners needed to meet the demand for primary care.  This 46 semester credit hour program prepares graduates to sit for national certification as a Family Nurse Practitioner. 

Content is delivered via distance education courses with on campus intensive one day a semester.  Clinical instruction is conducted as traditional hands-on practice in a variety of clinical settings.  The program is designed to build and expand on baccalaureate nursing practice.  Students must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from a nationally accredited nursing program as well as a current license to practice as a Registered Nurse in order to be eligible for admission.  A basic course in statistics is also required. 

Nurses in advanced practice utilize theory and research based nursing process to deliver and/or manage client care.  Graduate nursing education promotes the development of advanced critical thinking skills through its focus on creative and intellectual processes and facilitates change as evidenced by intellectual and professional growth.  The graduate learning environment incorporates the principles of adult learning to promote critical thinking and inter-collaborative skills which may be used in conceptualizing, synthesizing, and evaluating management of nursing and health care problems.  Nurses in advanced practice embrace the scholarly and systematic paradigm of evidence-based practice as necessary for the delivery of high-quality cost-efficient health care.  They recognize the dynamic nature of health care and health care delivery, and are committed to life-long learning.  As members of the profession, nurses in advanced practice respond to the changing needs of society while practicing within the established ethical, legal and competency standard of practice frameworks.

Program Philosophy

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program assumes an undergraduate base in nursing, physiology, pharmacology, and health assessment.  The curriculum is designed to prepare graduates at a high level of competency to function in leadership positions in diverse health care settings promoting, restoring, and maintaining health.  The MSN philosophy builds on the BSN nursing program philosophy, advancing the concepts of critical thinking, life-long learning, and professionalism.

MSN Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the MSN program, students have been provided the opportunity to enable themselves to:

  1. Function as a scholar clinician with critical thinking skills to promote, restore, and maintain health.
  2. Synthesize the theories from natural, behavioral, and social sciences to support advanced clinical nursing and role development.
  3. Use patient-care and communication technologies to deliver, enhance, integrate and coordinate high quality health care.
  4. Collaboratively plan for the delivery of culturally consistent health care within the context of client social structure and world views.
  5. Participate in, evaluate and use research to promote the body of nursing knowledge.
  6. Develop competence and accountability in an advanced practice nursing role, recognizing established standards and principles for quality improvement and safety.
  7. Develop the knowledge and skills to function as a nursing leader in professional association activities, health policy formation, and legislative and regulatory issues to foster change and improvement in health care.
  8. Demonstrate a commitment to continuing education in formal and informal programs of study.


Admission to a graduate program is granted by the Dean of the Graduate School upon the recommendation of the department.  Applicants must meet the following requirements for admission in addition to meeting the general university requirements in family nurse practitioner.

Admission Requirements

Successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam is required of all students.

Note: Individual departments may reserve the right to dismiss from their programs students who, in their judgment, would not meet the professional expectations of the field for which they are training. 

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NURS 5207 - Informatics in Health Care
Hours: 2
This course focuses on the application of computer technology to healthcare management of individuals and groups, with recognition of the social, ethical, and legal issues involved. Available resources useful in patient care and educational settings are emphasized. The opportunity for application of specific concepts is provided.

NURS 5209 - Issues in Advanced Practice
Hours: 2
This course focuses on social, economic, political, cultural, ethicolegal, and historical factors affecting nursing. It provides a forum for exploration of issues and concerns, enabling the critical analysis and evaluation of their effect on advanced practice nursing. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

NURS 5270 - Introduction to Psychopharmacology
Hours: 2
This course is designed to prepare the advanced practice registered nurse to accurately describe, administer, and counsel patients regarding appropriate and safe medication regimens used in psychiatric care. Pharmacologic principles, pharmacologic actions, and application of major drug classes used in psychopharmacology will be discussed in relation to their role in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

NURS 5271 - Pre-Clinical Essentials for the PMHNP Role
Hours: 2
This course is designed to prepare the advanced practice registered nurse for clinical experience in the psychiatric-mental health practice setting, including skills in assessment, documentation, and planning. The course will also include concepts and theories related to the role of the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner and the care of persons with psychiatric-mental health problems.

NURS 5301 - Theoretical Foundations in Nursing
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the philosophical and theoretical bases, underlying concepts and operations inherent to nursing. Synthesis of theories from behavioral, natural, social, and applied sciences is emphasized as it relates to nursing and practice. There is an investigation of the intersections between system science and organizational science. Nursing, ethical, and scientific theories are used in the analysis of clinical problems, illness prevention, and health promotion. Prerequisites: Consent of Instructor.

NURS 5302 - Advanced Pathophysiology
Hours: 3
This course focuses on pathophysiology and disruptions in normal body functioning for individuals across the lifespan. In depth theoretical and clinical principles of diseases encountered in primary care setting as well as health disparities resulting from genetic, environmental, and stress related causes are included. Assessment findings, diagnostic testing and interventions specific to selected health problems are explored to begin development of critical thinking skills for pathophysiologic causes and treatments of given disease processes. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

NURS 5303 - Pharmacology for Advanced Practice
Hours: 3
This course focuses on general principles of pharmacology including pharmacokinetics, and pharmacodynamics as they relate to the treatment and management of common illnesses and conditions across the lifespan. Attention is given to the physiologic basis and clinical characteristics of disease states relative to pharmacotherapy. Clinical decision-making and review of laws governing prescriptive authority for advance practice nursing are also emphasized. Prerequisites: Instructor Permission.

NURS 5304 - Health Promotion and Population Health
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the assessment and management of healthy children and adults in a variety of settings. The concepts of health, health promotion, and disease prevention related to age and cultural values are explored. Health promotion for vulnerable populations is explored through epidemiologic methods. Age appropriate primary and secondary prevention and risk reduction strategies and their research base are examined. Prerequisites: Instructor Permission.

NURS 5305 - Advanced Health Assessment
Hours: 3
This course focuses on theoretical and clinical principles for health assessment in advanced practice nursing. Physical, psychosocial, and cultural assessment skills necessary to develop a comprehensive health database, clinical decision making, and diagnostic reasoning skills are emphasized. Advanced health assessment principles and skills necessary for performing a comprehensive physical examination across the lifespan are applied in the primary care clinical setting. Integration of theory is tested in the laboratory setting with a comprehensive physical assessment and development of a plan of care based on the formulation of differential medical diagnoses. Prerequisites: Instructor Permission.

NURS 5306 - Translational Research in Nursing
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the logic, methods, and techniques of the research process as they apply to the nursing profession. Evidence-based practice, research utilization, and knowledge transformation processes are emphasized. The research-oriented approach is explored from problem formulation to analysis and interpretation in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. The opportunity to recognize a researchable problem in nursing and to develop a plan for its study is provided. This course meets 595 research requirement. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

NURS 5307 - Primary Care Procedures
Hours: 3
This course focuses on clinical procedures commonly needed in primary care practices as well as urgent care and fast track practices. It provides an opportunity to learn the skills needed to manage frequently encountered problems. Electrocardiograph interpretation, ordering and interpretation of diagnostic imaging will be included. The clinical component will consist of practice of skills in the skills lab and time spent with a clinical preceptor. An urgent care setting or emergency care setting is preferred for this course. Prerequisites: Instructor Permission.

NURS 5310 - Health Care Policy, Organization, and Financing
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the effect of politics, organizations, and resources on the delivery of high-quality, cost-effective health care. The leadership role of the advanced practice nurse in the design, implementation, and management of human fiscal and physical health care resources is emphasized. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

NURS 5312 - Advanced Nurse Practice Role
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the role of the advanced practice nurse with focus on the nurse practitioner. Concepts of professional development, scope of practice, peer review, legal and ethical parameters of practice, business management, and models of practice are included. Theoretical concepts related to role theory, change theory, empowerment, and socialization are emphasized. Prerequisites: Instructor permission.

NURS 5478 - Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Nursing Clinical Practicum
Hours: 4
This course provides an opportunity for the student to integrate didactic and clinical education in the inpatient and outpatient settings in preparation for summative clinical and didactic examinations and board exams. Hours for this course are primarily clinical, so didactic load will be light with lectures and discussions intended to be supportive, assisting the student to integrate the curriculum in preparation for practice. Prerequisites: Instructor approval.

NURS 5621 - Primary Care I
Hours: 6
This course focuses on assessment, diagnosis, and management of common episodic and chronic conditions across the lifespan. Included is the application of epidemiologic, pathophysiologic, symptom complexes, and research-based treatments as well as appropriate patient education resources and protocols. Attention is given to the integration and application of advanced health assessment and critical-thinking skills, developmental and family theories, and health promotion strategies in the diagnostic and clinical management processes of the advanced nurse practitioner role. Prerequisites: NURS 5302, NURS 5303, and NURS 5305.

NURS 5622 - Primary Care II
Hours: 6
This course provides the opportunity to continue developing clinical expertise as a nurse practitioner. Assessment and management of additional selected health problems frequently seen in primary health care are explored. Increasing responsibility for the diagnostic and clinical management processes of the nurse practitioner is emphasized. Prerequisites: NURS 5621 Primary Care I.

NURS 5672 - Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Nursing 1: Adult/Acute
Hours: 6
This course provides didactic and clinical education in the care of the adult patient with acute psychiatric or mental health problems in the inpatient and outpatient settings.

NURS 5674 - Family Psychiatric-Mental Health Advanced Practice Nursing II: Child/Adolescent
Hours: 6
This course provides didactic and clinical education in the care of the child-adolescent patient (3-24 years) with acute psychiatric or mental health problems in the inpatient and outpatient settings.

NURS 5677 - Family Psychiatric-Mntl Hlth Adv Practice Nursg III: Older Adults & Chronically Mentally Ill
Hours: 6
This course provides didactic and clinical education in the care of the older adult patient or the adult with chronic psychiatric or mental health problems in the inpatient and outpatient settings. Prerequisites: NURS 5270 & NURS 5271.

NURS 6300 - Practice Intervention Project
Hours: 3
This course focuses on the delineation of a problem/issue/project related to the clinical or functional area, review of pertinent literature, and development of a proposed solution with steps in implementation and evaluation methodology. Emphasis on quality improvement. A written document and an oral presentation of the project to a selected audience are required. Prerequisite: Instructor permission.

NURS 6301 - Performance and Improvement Projects and Quality Improvement
Hours: 2
This course focuses on the delineation of a problem/issue/project related to the clinical or functional area, review of pertinent literature, and development of a proposed solution with steps in implementation and evaluation methodology. Quality improvement is emphasized. A written document and an oral presentation of the project to a selected audience are required. Prerequisites: NURS 6300.

NURS 589 - Independent Study
Hours: 0-6
Individualized instruction/research at an advanced level in a specialized content area under the direction of a faculty member. May be repeated when the topic varies. Prerequisites: Consent of department head.

NURS 597 - Special Topics in Nursing
Hours: 1-6
Note: May be repeated when the topic varies. Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor.


Shelly Hanko
Associate Professional Track, MSN Coordinator
B.S.N., M.S.N. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D. Saint Louis University

Denise Neill
Associate Professor and Department Head
B.S.N., M.S.N., University of Central Arkansas; PhD., Texas Woman's University Denton