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Master’s Program in Nursing

Become A Transformative Nurse at the VCU School of Nursing

The VCU School of Nursing provides state-of-the-science facilities to prepare baccalaureate-educated registered nurses for advance practice as a Nurse Practitioner in a chosen specialty. The Master’s Program provides nurses with a solid foundation in the specialized knowledge and advanced practice skills that are needed to care for diverse patient populations with complex health problems across the health-illness continuum. In addition, students collaborate with interprofessional groups to develop expertise in team-based, patient- centered health care, while also gaining valuable leadership and collaborative skills. Our graduates are prepared to engage and transform the care of patients in a variety of settings.

Jeremy KellemsIn the picture to the right, Jeremy Kellems, a master's degree student in the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration, examines a patient under the guidance of his preceptor, Lana Sargent, M.S.N., RN, FNP-C, GNP-BC, assistant professor.

Why the VCU School of Nursing is the Best Choice?

  • State-of-the art simulation center experiences that prepare students for clinical practice and refine clinical skills.
  • A distinctive educational experience working with highly qualified faculty who not only are nationally renowned educators, researchers, and professional leaders, but also expert clinicians who maintain active practices.
  • Partnership with the nationally recognized VCU Health System, including the VCU Medical Center – a Level 1 Trauma Center with Magnet status.
  • Affiliations with health care systems throughout Virginia that provide a vast array of clinical experiences ranging from management of patients in intensive care units to community-based clinics.
  • Individualized clinical experiences working “hands-on” with highly qualified clinical preceptors who are committed to the professional growth of our students.

Merdedes Tara

In the picture to the left, Mercedes Tarongoy, a master's degree student in the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner concentration, performs her clinicals in the VCU Medical Center with preceptor Tim McGranahan, RN, ACNP, one of our long-time preceptors.

Advanced Practice

Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are a highly valued and integral part of the ever-changing health care system. Because of the care APRNs provide for patients in a variety of settings it is important that education, accreditation, certification and licensure of APRNs are aligned with the patient’s needs.

Primary Care Practitioners

The primary care practitioner is educated in the delivery of comprehensive continuous care for patients. They are usually the first contact when a patient needs care and provide most of their patients’ non-urgent health care needs, including conditions of an acute or chronic nature. Primary care providers are also responsible for collaborating with other providers or coordinating specialist health care services outside of the primary care sphere.

Key points when considering a master’s degree in primary care:

  • FNPs care for patients across the life span, delivering family-focused care.
  • AG-NPs provide primary care for a patient population that includes adolescents, emancipated minors, young to middle age adults, and adults age 65 years and older. 
  • FNPs and AG-NPs complete health histories and conduct physical examinations, interpret results from laboratory and diagnostic procedures, diagnose and treat many primary care health problems, and prescribe and manage medications and other therapies.  
  • FNPs and AG-NPs provide health teaching and coaching with an emphasis on building a relationship with the patient, which leads to improved health outcomes.  
  • AG-NPs are also in high demand as Americans are growing older, living longer, and more likely to have health concerns.
  • Health care reform initiatives have contributed to an increase in employment opportunities in a variety of settings, included general private practices, public health clinics, and hospital-based outpatient clinics. 
  • Many primary care nurse practitioners go on to develop expertise in sub-specialties areas, such as management of patients with diabetes, cancer, or heart conditions.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

Acute care nurse practitioners are skilled in providing care across a continuum of medical care services. Short-term goals include patient stabilization, minimization of complication, and promotion of physical and psychological well-being. The long-term goal is to restore maximal health potential while evaluating and addressing risk factors, as well as preventing or minimizing complications. 

  • AG-ACNPs complete health histories and conduct physical examinations, diagnose and treat many common acute and chronic problems, interpret results from laboratory and diagnostic tests, and prescribe and manage medications and other therapies.  
  • AG-ACNPs utilizes invasive interventions and procedures to promote physiological stability and perform a wide variety of skills and procedures depending on the specific patient population and specialty-based area of practice.
  • They are in high demand due to the increased acuity of hospitalized patients, higher intensity of care, and shortened length of hospitalization among acutely ill patients.  
  • While many AG-ACNPs practice in a hospital-based setting, including emergency departments, intensive/sub-acute care units, and specialty clinics, the continuum of acute care services spans ambulatory and urgent care clinics, rehabilitative care settings, long-term care facilities, and home health care in both urban and rural locations

For more questions regarding the advanced practice specific role and patient population by specialty see the following resource: National Council of State Boards of Nursing at https://www.ncsbn.org/aprn.htm (Video link)

Clinical Experiences

The School of Nursing has a full-time practicum placement coordinator who works closely with students and faculty to identify a practicum experiences. In order to meet the certification and program requirements, practicum placements are offered across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Practicum courses are a combination of didactic and clinical time; 1 credit hour is equal to 45 hours of practicum time (e.g. 3 credits = 135 hours).

Direct Care Advance Practice Concentrations in the Master’s Program

Primary Care

Acute Care

Administration Programs

More Information

For additional information about the VCU Master’s Program and questions about the application process, please contact the VCU School of Nursing Office of Enrollment and Student Services (OESS) at VCU_Nurse@vcu.edu. or call 804-828-5171. We look forward to working with you as you consider the educational opportunities at VCU School of Nursing.