ATLANTA — All 18 members of the first graduating class of Mercer University's Georgia Baptist College of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner Program passed the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Examination on their first attempt and are now practicing family nurse practitioners. The average exam score for national test-takers is 585. The Mercer graduates averaged 599 on the exam.
"We were thrilled when we heard the news," said. Dr. Freida Fuller Payne, professor and FNP program coordinator. "The inaugural FNP class entered into a brand new curriculum plan and certification results provide an external evaluation measure of your program. It's very reaffirming for us that we can offer something that can be so successful."
Since 1999, Dr. Payne has served as a site visit team leader for the nursing school accrediting body, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. She said the experience helped her to design the program to be rigorous, based on a wide range of best practices from the College's programs, as well as those she has visited. The program is a combination of online and in the classroom, with field experiences at clinical sites throughout Georgia, based on the location of the students. Some traveled from as far away as Augusta for the classroom sessions, Dr. Payne said.
The students began their coursework in May 2011 and completed it in August, earning a Master of Science in Nursing from the College, which is the state's longest-standing educator of nurses. The Family Nurse Practitioner specialty is the newest of three tracks offered in the College's master's program.
The graduates, who will walk at the University's May commencement, have been complimentary of the program, said Dr. Payne, including Stephanie Bennett, a member of the first class and now a Family Nurse Practitioner.
"What stands out about the FNP program is that the faculty genuinely care about each student and want everyone to succeed," Bennett said. "They are available and willing to assist you. While going through the program, you don't really realize how much you are learning and growing, but when you finish and begin to study for boards and work as an FNP, you come to recognize the value of the education you have received and how much you really do know."
About the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Program
The purpose of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Program is to provide a valid and reliable program for entry-level nurse practitioners to recognize their education, knowledge and professional expertise. Candidates who become certified by Academy will be able to use the initials NP-C to indicate their certification status. As of December 2011, the Academy listed 25,713 active Family Nurse Practitioners.
About the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing
Founded in 1902 as a school of nursing, the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is the oldest nursing program in Georgia. Over its 111-year history, the College has graduated more than 7,198 nurses. Since its founding, the College has been dedicated to educating the person, fostering the passion and shaping the future of nursing. The College merged with Mercer University in 2001 and offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Ph.D. in Nursing.nursing.mercer.edu