An experienced pediatric nurse now working in health management, Julie Barnes 96 wants to return to working directly with patients, this time with advanced knowledge of medicine and health care across the lifespan. Sridevi Mareddi, who has worked as a nurse in various settings around the world, wants to influence health care policy at all levels. And paramedic-turned-nurse Adam Brown hopes to continue working in the emergency room with knowledge and clinical experience relevant to a variety of primary care settings.
Despite their different backgrounds, they each see the New Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration at the UNCG School of Nursing as a key step toward realizing their dreams.
As a board-certified family nurse practitioner for over 35 years, I am thrilled that UNCG has this option, says School of Nursing Dean Debra Barksdale. FNPs make a critical contribution to primary care as the overall primary care physician workforce continues to decline. UNCG FNP graduates will fill critical gaps in access to health care.
Preparing students for highly valued careers
Family nurse practitioners provide a wide range of health care services to patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly, including prevention, wellness, treatment and management. They perform physical examinations; order and perform diagnostic tests; diagnoses and treats chronic and acute diseases, conditions and injuries; prescribe medication; and more, under the umbrella of primary health care.
Launched in Fall 2023, the Family Nurse Practitioner option is offered in the Master of Science in Nursing program and provides flexible options for students. Using a hybrid delivery format, the FNP option is a combination of in-person and online classes, some held at specific times of the week and some available asynchronously. The School of Nursing provides all clinical placements for its FNP students with qualified preceptors, eg NPs, MDs and PAs from a variety of clinical settings.
The FNP is the most preferred nursing specialty among employers and students, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Graduates of the UNCG program may seek board certification from either the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Board-certified FNPs can apply for state licensure and approval to practice.
Barnes: I know the quality of education I will receive. I survived it.
Barnes and Mareddi hope to be among the first to graduate in the spring of 2025. Both attend full-time.
Barnes graduated from UNCG and says being accepted into the program felt like going home.
She calls pediatrics her first love, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, she had the opportunity to work at Atrium Healths Hospital’s vaccine clinic.
It reignited my passion for direct patient care. “I found that not only was I taking care of those people while they were getting the vaccine, but I was providing them with a lot of education,” Barnes says. It was truly an experience of a lifetime for me, completely unexpected.
Having earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from UNCG in 1996, she was excited to learn about the FNP concentration at UNCG.
“I researched a bunch of programs, so I had a lot of questions,” Barnes says. I know the quality of the nursing school. I know the quality of education I will receive. I have lived it and I have already benefited from it. This was just a logical next step for me.
Mareddi: I was fascinated by the hybrid program
Mareddis was introduced to UNCG’s graduate nursing programs by colleagues who attended the University. My independent research confirmed UNCG’s strong reputation and accreditation for nursing programs, she says.
Several factors influenced Mareddis’ decision to enroll: the range of master’s specializations available, the variety of clinical placement opportunities and the hands-on approach.
I was also impressed by the hybrid program, which offered a unique opportunity to interact with professors and have unhindered access to information, she says.
Mareddi has, she says, a deep-seated passion for immersing herself in health care advocacy and political efforts. My goal is to effect significant changes in health care policy, spanning the local, state, and even national levels.
Although the program’s curriculum can be demanding, it is also very rewarding because it provides me with the foundational knowledge necessary for my career as an FNP, she adds.
Brown: The teachers were extremely helpful and knowledgeable.
Like Mareddi and Barnes, Brown has extensive experience in nursing and sees the FNP concentration as a springboard for her future. He was a paramedic for 24 years and worked as a nurse for the past 8 years.
My goal is to continue working in the emergency room, and I wanted to have a breadth of knowledge and not be limited to the population I can care for, says Brown. I really enjoy helping people when they are going through the worst experiences they may have to face.
As a part-time student who plans to graduate in 2026, Brown says he had a great experience at UNCG. The teachers were extremely knowledgeable and helpful throughout the process. And the newer Union Square campus has plenty of technology and advancements to help.
To learn more, visit the UNCG Family Nurse Practitioner Concentration website or contact program coordinator Dr. Amber Vermeesch firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story by Dee Shore, AMBCopi
Photo by Sean Noron, University Communications
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