NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Achieving a 100% first-time passing rate on their certification exams, the graduates from the first family nurse practitioner program cohort in Stephen F. Austin State University’s DeWitt School of Nursing are well-prepared to handle anything the profession throws at them.

“The rigor of our courses and quality of our students and nursing faculty is extremely high,” said Dr. Erin Bailey, Master of Science in Nursing coordinator and operations coordinator in the School of Nursing. “The students we produce are capable of entry-level practice with very little transition needed except orientation to their environment.”

SFA’s Master of Science in Nursing with a focus as a family nurse practitioner is designed to prepare nurses to provide primary care with an emphasis on rural, underserved populations. Delivered online on a part-time basis, the program lets students learn while remaining in the communities where they live and work.

A $750,000 grant from the T.L.L. Temple Foundation provided the financial foundation for the development of the program, which includes a few on-campus clinical experiences.

The students in the first cohort began the program in August 2017 and completed 46 semester credit hours and a minimum of 720 clinical hours. To receive their license, the students had to pass either the certification examination offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program.

Anna Beccone, a graduate from the program, received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from SFA in 2013 and knew that when she was ready to advance her education and career, the DeWitt School of Nursing was once again the right place for her.

“The women and men involved in the nursing program go above and beyond in every measure to ensure the success of their students,” she said. “There is a genuine interest in advancing the nursing profession among the faculty and students that shines through in how each SFA alumnus practices as a registered nurse or nurse practitioner.”

This expertise and care for students played a large part in Beccone’s decision to continue her studies at SFA, she said.

“I never felt unable to ask a question, have something explained to me more in depth, or voice any opinions or concerns,” she said. “There was a collaboration between the students and professors to ensure not only our success but also the success of the program.”

Currently serving as a pre-operative nurse at a hospital in Fort Worth, Beccone has also accepted a position as a nurse practitioner, splitting work between two clinics in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

“I’m proud to be a part of SFA’s history as a member of the first cohort of family nurse practitioner students,” she said.

To learn more about the School of Nursing, visit