Northern Kentucky University Nursing School Review

Northern Kentucky University (NKU) is a four-year public university located in Highland Heights, Kentucky just south of Cincinnati, Ohio. Both undergraduate and graduate programs are offered at this large university with around 15,750 students enrolled in its programs. It is the third largest university in the Greater Cincinnati area and is the newest Kentucky state university. It was established in 1968.

There are six associate degree programs, 70 bachelors degree programs, and 22 graduate programs offered at NKU. There are also one Juris Doctor and one Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and over 30 graduate certificates offered. Study abroad programs are offered, and over 260 students participated in various programs in 35 countries around the world in the past year. Students will find many activities since there are over 200 campus clubs and organizations, NCAA Division II athletics, and 13 varsity sports.

Nursing Programs

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

NKU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program to prepare students to become professional nurses. Students complete general education courses that include liberal arts and sciences and take nursing courses that are incorporated into the curriculum over the four years of study. There are also laboratory experiences in the simulation lab and clinical experiences. The NKU Nursing Program has affiliations with world class hospitals such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that has been named as one of the best hospitals in America. Clinical experience is scheduled at some of the best rated hospitals in the Greater Cincinnati area.

Students also have opportunities to network in the community by completing research and service. There are also many ways for nursing students to volunteer to work in a health-related community organization such as Kentucky Housing Corporation, Northern Kentucky Health Department, Alcoholics Anonymous, The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, and many more. Students may also volunteer to work with the Nurse Advocacy Center for the Underserved with three different social agencies in Northern Kentucky. These volunteer experiences provide additional healthcare training in the real world for nursing students.

All nursing students begin their studies at NKU as pre-majors. Admission requirements for freshmen coming from high school is that they must have an ACT composite score of 20 or a SAT score of 940 with math and critical reading combined. Students must first be accepted into the college before applying for admission to the BSN program. Admission is selective, and students are expected to have completed four years of English, three years of math, three years of science, three years of social studies, and two years of the same language in high school.

The minimum ACT score is 18 and minimum SAT math and writing scores are 430 with a critical reading score of 450 required. Applicants may be required to take a College Placement Test, depending on their ACT or SAT scores. Students who are admitted to the BSN program must complete all of the general education requirements plus the nursing courses and clinical experience that is required. At the end of the program, the student must take the NCLEX-RN to obtain licensure as a Registered Nurse.

Accelerated BSN – 2nd-Degree BSN (ABSN) program

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is designed for those who have a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to become professional nurses. Students must meet the same requirements as students in the regular BSN program, but most students are able to transfer a substantial number of credits from their previous studies to the BSN program. There are prerequisite courses that must be completed before entering the rigorous program that incorporates three years of nursing courses into 16 months. The program is for full-time students who are not working.

To be admitted to the program, applicants must meet all of the admission requirements. The program is highly selective and preference is given to students with high grade point averages in sciences and math courses that they have already completed. The applicant must have at least a 3.0 grade point average on the last 30 hours of academic work and must have completed all prerequisite courses with at least a C. Applicants must also pass a criminal background check. At the completion of the program, graduates take the NCLEX-RN to obtain their license to practice as a Registered Nurse.

RN to BSN Program

NKU offers a program for Registered Nurses to complete their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The program may be completed on either a full-time or part-time basis. Nurses may enroll in the program and continue working. Some of the credits from the student’s associate degree are transferred to the BSN program. A total of 45 credits are need in general studies and as prerequisite courses for the program. Also, upper level nursing courses require 45 credits, including a six credit practicum and a six credit Nursing Leadership Practicum. This program is offered online which is very convenient for working nurses. At the beginning of the program, students must complete Successful Online Orientation (SOLO), a unit that has been developed for students who are new to online learning, but it is part of the program for all students. With online courses, students may work at times that are convenient for them and retake them if necessary. When the RN-BSN program is completed, the student is awarded a BSN.

Masters of Science in Nursing

NKU has had a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program since 1992, and in 1994 an online format was added. There are various tracks from which students choose, depending on the advanced nursing specialty that they want to work in. These are each discussed below. All programs share MSN core courses and also require their own specific courses geared toward the advanced nursing specialty. Programs require from 38 to 49 credits. Students may choose to either complete a thesis or nursing project.

This program is available on both a full-time and part-time basis. The part-time programs usually take three years or nine to ten semesters. Full-time students may complete the program in six semesters or two years including the summers. Another choice that students must make is whether to complete the program online or by taking classes at the campus. Most campus advanced nursing classes are held in the evening as a convenience to nurses who work in the daytime.

Admission to the MSN programs requires that an application for admission to the graduate program is submitted. Copies of transcripts from undergraduate and graduate work must be included. Applicants must have a grade point average of 3.0 in their undergraduate studies. Also, RNs must provide proof of 1,000 hours of practice as a RN. In addition, a copy of the applicant’s nursing license and a current resume must be included. A letter of purpose or statement of goals must be included too. Two reference forms must also be included. These documents should be sent to the Office of Graduate Programs who will then send them to the Department of Advanced Nursing Studies.

Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

Students may choose from one of the options in this MSN program. They are Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Nurse Practitioner, or Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. After completing the core courses needed for the MSN, students then take the advanced nursing specialty courses for the track that they chose. Nurse Practitioners must spend a considerable amount of time in clinical experience preparing to care for individuals of all ages. At the completion of the program, graduates take the national exam for licensure as a Nurse Practitioner. They are then able to provide primary care to patients.

Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioners provide advanced nursing care to those from adolescence through old age who have chronic or complex health conditions. These nurses work in inpatient and outpatient settings where complex, specialized treatment is required. Graduates of this MSN program take the national exam for certification in this specialty area.

Nursing Education

This MSN program prepares RNs for a career of teaching nursing students in nursing schools and universities. The program also prepares nurses to teach their peers in workshops and other scenarios and to provide patient education. Graduates take the exam that leads to certification as a Nurse Educator.

Nurse Executive Leadership

This MSN program prepares RNs to be future executives in nursing. Nursing courses and also business courses that include informatics, psychological sciences, accounting and finance, and math and statistics are included so that graduates are prepared to take leadership roles in a variety of healthcare facilities.

Nursing Informatics

This MSN program prepares students to have the knowledge and skills needed for decision-making positions anywhere in the healthcare field. Students learn to research by using informational sources, organizational processes, and technologies.

Post-Graduate Programs

The Department of Advanced Nursing Studies at NKU offers two post-graduate programs. Each of these has many tracks within it that students may choose. Each of the two main categories is discussed below.

Nurse Practitioner Advancement

The university offers many different tracks of Nurse Practitioner specialties. These programs are designed for RNs who have already completed a MSN and want to add to their knowledge and skills in their advanced practice area. Each of these is discussed below.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner to Adult Nurse Practitioner

This program requires only 12 credits of study plus 500 clinical hours. Students are sometimes awarded credit for some of the clinical hours, depending on their work experience. Courses teach Acute Care Nurse Practitioners to learn about providing primary care for adults as they add an Adult Nurse Practitioner certificate to their credentials. They learn primary care of adults, primary care of gynecology, of the aged, common health problems, primary care of adolescents and of adults. There are two primary care residencies required as well.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner to Family Nurse Practitioner

In this program of 15 credits, Acute Care Nurse Practitioners learn the basics of caring for children, women, and other areas related to family health. There are two residencies included and 500 clinical hours. Credit for some of the hours may be awarded for clinical experience that the student has attained from their work as an RN.

Adult or Family NP to Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

RNs with a MSN may take this Adult or Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) to Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Fifteen credits are required to learn about the common acute problems that adults may face. Students must complete an Acute Care Practicum and Acute Care Preceptorship consisting of 600 residency hours as they learn to provide primary care to patients. The online program requires a three to five day residency as well.

Adult Nurse Practitioner to Family Nurse Practitioner

Adult Nurse Practitioners who want to also specialize in treating members of the entire family may take this program. They learn to treat family members from newborns to adolescence and primary obstetric care and care for adolescents. Twelve credits are required plus 500 clinical experience hours. Students may reduce the required clinical experience hours if their RN work has provided similar experience in this area.

Adult of Family Nurse Practitioner to Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

This program was recently developed as a solution to the shortage of psychiatric nurse practitioners available in the United States. Students learn about the medications that their patients may need and also the theories of counseling and psychotherapy. The program requires 18 credits plus 500 hours of clinical experience.

Certified Nurse Midwife/Women’s Health to Adult Nurse Practitioner

This program requires 13 credits and 500 clinical hours that may be reduced for experience that the RN has. Students learn to provide primary care for the elderly, adolescents, and adults. Two residencies are required, and they are built into the number of credits needed to complete the program.

CNM or Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner to Family Nurse Practitioner

This program trains the Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner to also treat children, the elderly, and adults. Three residencies are included in this program that requires 20 credits. Also, 500 clinical hours are required that may be reduced depending on the RNs experience. The program prepares RNs to provide primary care to all family members.

Geriatric Nurse Practitioner to Family Nurse Practitioner

RNs expand their knowledge in providing primary care to children and women. By completing obstetrics and gynecology courses, RNs are trained to provide treatment for individuals of all ages. Between 14 and 16 credits are needed to complete the program including two residencies and 500 clinical hours. The clinical hours may be reduced, depending on the RNs experience.

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner to Family Nurse Practitioner

Advanced practice nurses learn to treat the elderly, women, and adults in this program. Thirteen credits must be completed including two residencies. Five-hundred clinical hours are required, but some of these may be replaced by work experience.

Post-Master’s Certificate

There are four tracks in the post MSN Certificate Program that is designed for the RN with a MSN who wants to add specialized knowledge to help them in their advanced nursing practice. Each track is discussed below.

Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Courses

A total of 26 credits are required to complete this program that consists of nine Nurse Practitioner Core Courses and 17 acute care specialty courses. Six hundred clinical residency hours are built into the program, and the Online Program requires a three to five day on-campus residency. Courses focus on common acute health problems that adults face. A post-master’s certificate is awarded at the completion of the program.

Post-Master’s Primary Care Nurse Practitioner

This post-master’s certificate program offers the choice of three different tracks. Students in all three specialties must complete the Advanced Practice Core Courses plus the courses required for their chosen specialty. The core courses are a total of 15 credits that include three primary care residencies. These are the Family Track that requires 14 credits in this specialty area, Adult Track, requiring 11 additional credits, or the Pediatric Track that requires 9 additional credits.

Nursing Education

This program is designed for RNs who have a MSN who want to further their education by becoming a nurse educator. They will be trained to teach student nurses in various settings as well as to facilitate and teach peers and to educate patients. The Educational Focus Courses total 12 credits and there are also nine credits of electives required. Students learn to develop nursing curriculum, how to assess students, and complete two practicums in this program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is designed for RNs who work in clinical practice or in support areas in administration, leadership, education, or policy. The focus of the program is to provide leadership for evidence-based practice. Students may complete the program on a part-time basis in three years, including summer sessions. A total of 36 to 39 credits are required, including a clinical residency capstone.

Doctor of Education Nurse Educator Track

This program takes three years to complete on a part-time basis. Summer semesters are included. Students must complete from 36 to 39 credits in eight semesters when they learn many of the advanced topics that will enable them to teach nursing students through the masters degree level. A clinical residency capstone is also required.

Northern Kentucky University
1 Louie B Nunn Dr.,
Highland Heights, Kentucky 41099
(859) 572-1400

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