Nurses interested in obtaining advanced degrees are invited to learn more

about Internet-based Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Family Nurse

Practitioner (FNP) programs at informational sessions in early May at

Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) in Pomona and Chico,

California.

Four sessions are scheduled. The first two will be held at 1 and 5 p.m. on

Thursday, May 6. Two more will be held at 1 and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11.

Sessions at WesternU’s main campus in Pomona will be held in the Alumni

Center, 309 E. Second St., Pomona. Sessions in Chico will take place at

WesternU’s Regional Center at Chico, 1400 W. Third St., Chico.

WesternU’s Web-based MSN/FNP program was designed by specialists in

nursing and computer education to provide access to higher education to

nurses who couldn’t previously schedule traditional coursework around

their jobs, families or long commutes. Up to 20 students are admitted

annually from as far away as Alaska, Nevada and Michigan.

The next class begins Aug. 30, and the deadline for admission is May 30.

FNPs are registered nurses whose educational and clinical practice

experience extends beyond basic nurse training. They can perform physical

examinations, diagnose and treat acute illnesses, order and interpret

laboratory tests, and provide patient education. Health planners

increasingly are relying on FNPs as the providers of choice for a range of

front-line services. A 1995 study commissioned by the California Office of

Statewide Health Planning and Development indicated that the number of NPs

needed to provide health care in California would continue to rise. The

annual salary range for FNPs averages between $50,000 and $60,000,

according to Karen Hanford, MSN/FNP/PA-C, the program director and interim

dean for WesternU’s College of Graduate Nursing.

WesternU began the Web-based MSN/FNP program at its Chico location in

January 1997. That program is expanding, and beginning in August also will

be offered at the University’s main campus in Pomona.

“”We’ve been attracting a national market, we’re having a very positive

applicant pool, and we have been planning to expand the program to include

the Pomona campus for the past year,”” Hanford said.

The charter class of WesternU’s Internet MSN/FNP program graduated in

January, and most agree that the unique program prepared them well to

apply skills in hospitals and clinics.

“”One of the benefits of the course is that you do your clinical time in

your hometown so, hopefully, you can establish relations where you want to

work,”” said recent graduate Ray Millette, MSN/FNP. The Grants Pass, Oregon

resident said he has found work at a family practice and emergency room in

his community.

Kathy Kolb-Lucas, MSN/FNP, a resident of Chico and another member of the

charter class, said she learned invaluable information about computer

technology and the resources available on the Web through the distance-

learning classes.

“”I had never even seen the Internet before I started, and now I monitor

emerging diseases worldwide every day on my e-mail,”” she said.

Kolb-Lucas works in family practice at Sutter County Clinic, and said that

had the WesternU Internet program not been available, she would have faced

a long commute to obtain her degree.

“”It was an absolute plus for me being able to work at home on my own

schedule and not have to go to classes,”” she said. “”It’s tremendous for

families and working people. Also, the intimacy of being in a small group

really facilitated the learning.””

The prerequisites for entering WesternU’s FNP program are: a bachelor’s

degree in science with a minimum grade point average of 3.0; coursework in

biochemistry and statistics; and a computer with Internet capabilities.

The program is comprised of a six-term, two-year curriculum, and requires

two on-site weekend visits each 15-week semester. Students are assigned to

preceptors in their hometown, and complete their clinical assignments on a

weekly basis.

For more information, call (909) 469-5233 (Pomona), or (530) 898-7020

(Chico).