NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Nurses across the state now have access to an online family nurse practitioner program that will be offered this fall by Stephen F. Austin State University. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Board of Nursing recently approved the Master of Science in Nursing program.

"The new program will help the whole community as well as the School of Nursing," said Dr. Sara Bishop, director of SFA's DeWitt School of Nursing. "We are already one of the best-known schools of nursing in Texas - our graduation rates are excellent, and our students perform remarkably on their state board exams. This program will offer nurses access to graduate nursing education and provide much-needed primary care to citizens in Deep East Texas."

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.

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," Bishop said.

Admission to the program will occur only during the fall semester. Priority deadline for fall admission is July 1 for the 2017-18 academic year. After 2017-18, the priority deadline will be April 1.

There are several specific requirements for program admittance, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited institution, a current unencumbered Texas registered nurse license, one year of full-time or equivalent experience practicing as a registered nurse, and more.

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."

For additional information about admission requirements and other details, contact Hensarling at (936) 468-7732 or