NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Nineteen family nurse practitioner students from across Texas visited the Stephen F. Austin State University DeWitt School of Nursing Building last week for the first Master of Science in Nursing program orientation in the university’s history.
The new online program makes it easier for East Texas nurses to access graduate nursing education while providing much-needed primary care to citizens of Deep East Texas.
“Because I’m a single mom working two jobs with two kids, I would not have been able to go back to school if it was not for SFA’s new online program,” Shannon Weaver of Longview said during last week’s orientation. “I think for so many of us, at this point in our lives, hybrid programs or those that require in-person classes are just not a feasible option, so I love that aspect of SFA’s new program.”
The Master of Science in Nursing with focus as a family nurse practitioner requires 46 credit hours and 720 minimum clinical hours to complete. Students will be allowed to utilize preceptors for clinical experiences in their home communities, when possible.
“For similar programs at other universities, you have to be on campus so many days a week and that was just not an option for me unless I was wanting to relocate, find a new job and go to school at the same time,” said Grant Harris, a Master of Science in Nursing student and SFA graduate. “The master’s degree in nursing was just a really flexible program and great fit.”
A $750,000 grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation strengthened development of the online program, which includes a few on-campus clinical experiences.
"We could not have gained momentum if it were not for the support of the T.L.L. Temple Foundation, and we are most thankful,” said Dr. Sara Bishop, director of SFA's DeWitt School of Nursing.
The SFA nursing administrators stated that access to health care is a growing concern across the nation. Many Texas counties have a shortage of primary care providers, including the counties in Deep East Texas. The leaders believe this program will connect SFA and East Texas communities through learning opportunities.
"Many of the students will be working with area nurse practitioners and primary care physicians in clinical sites where they will receive assistance and training," said Dr. Janice Hensarling, associate professor of nursing and Master of Science in Nursing assistant program coordinator. "We have already received so much support from the community, and our program will focus on the needs of rural East Texas."
According to Dr. Christell Bray, program coordinator, the first class is scheduled to graduate in 2020.
For additional information about admission requirements and other details, contact Hensarling at (936) 468-7732 or firstname.lastname@example.org.