Frontier Nursing University (FNU), located in Versailles, Ky., has the third-best Online Family Nurse Practitioner Master’s Program according to rankings compiled and released by U.S. News and World Report on January 25, 2022.
“We are very honored to be recognized by U.S. News and World Report as having one of the leading online FNP programs in the nation,” said FNU President Dr. Susan Stone, CNM, DNSc, FAAN, FACNM. “We are even prouder of our more than 2,900 Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) graduates who are providing much-needed care to their communities across the country. These graduates are actively fulfilling FNU’s mission to serve all individuals with an emphasis on women and families in diverse, rural, and underserved populations.”
Founded in 1939 as the Frontier Graduate School of Midwifery, FNU has a long history of innovation and leadership in nursing and midwifery education. In the late 1960s, university leaders recognized the need for broader education to provide comprehensive primary care to all family members. This led to the formation of the first Family Nurse Practitioner program in the United States and the university changed its name to the Frontier School of Midwifery and Family Nursing to reflect the addition of the FNP program in 1970.
"In the 1950s and 1960s the birth rate dropped and there were more treatments developed to treat chronic conditions. Frontier Nursing Service identified the need for nurses trained in primary care to provide services to the rural and underserved communities," said FNU Dean of Nursing Dr. Joan Slager, CNM, DNP, FACNM, FAAN. "Launching the FNP program was in alignment with FNU's mission of educating nurses to meet the health care needs of rural and underserved communities."
In 1989, FNU established itself as a pioneer in distance education when its leaders recognized the national shortage of nurse-midwives. They understood that there were nurses living in rural and underserved areas who would pursue graduate education if they were given the opportunity without a requirement to leave their home community. FNU developed a hybrid model of distance learning that transformed the university into one of the largest and most successful graduate schools of nursing in the United States. The overall student experience is a hybrid model of two campus experiences, combined with didactic coursework online and community-based clinical practicum in students’ home communities. The FNU network consists of more than 140 didactic faculty and Regional Clinical Faculty (RCF) located nationwide, alumni, clinical preceptors, and more than 2,500 students located in every state, and a dynamic online presence for academic and peer support.
"In the 1950s and 1960s the birth rate dropped and there were more treatments developed to treat chronic conditions. Frontier Nursing Service identified the need for nurses trained in primary care to provide services to the rural and underserved communities. Launching the FNP program was in alignment with FNU's mission of educating nurses to meet the health care needs of rural and underserved communities."
Joan Slager, CNM, DNP, FACNM, FAAN
Dean of Nursing
The U.S. News and World Report rankings are held in high regard due to their thorough and rigorous review process. The online FNP rankings were compiled using these five weighted categories:
Engagement (30%): In a quality program, aspiring advanced practice nurses can readily collaborate with fellow students in their classes and clinical settings. In turn, instructors are not only accessible and responsive but are also tasked with helping create an experience rewarding enough for students to stay enrolled and complete their degrees in a reasonable amount of time.
Faculty Credentials and Training (20%): Strong online nursing programs employ instructors with academic credentials that mirror those of instructors for campus-based programs, and they have the resources to train these instructors to teach distance learners.
Expert Opinion (20%): A survey of high-ranking academic officials in nursing helps account for intangible factors affecting program quality that statistics do not capture. Also, employers may hold in high regard degrees from programs that academics respect.
Services and Technologies (20%): Programs that incorporate diverse online learning technologies allow greater flexibility for students to take classes from a distance. Outside of classes, strong support structures provide learning assistance, career guidance, and financial aid resources commensurate with quality campus-based programs.
Student Excellence (10%): Student bodies entering with proven aptitudes, ambitions and accomplishments can handle the demands of rigorous coursework. Furthermore, online degrees that schools award judiciously will have greater legitimacy in the job market.
FNU has been highly rated in other U.S. News and World Report rankings, including 37th out of 330 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs in 2021. Updated rankings for the DNP and other categories are scheduled to be released in March.