Investing in Advanced Nurses

Dona Clarin meets with students.

Dona Clarin moved to Searcy to start Harding’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program in 2017 and wanted her students to have the same experience she had had as an undergraduate student even though they would not be on campus. Creating an online graduate program with the same highly relational experience was a challenge, but the faculty were up to the task. 

Students travel to Searcy three times during their program: at the beginning of their first semester, in December before they graduate, and the week before their commencement ceremony. In between, they connect with peers and professors through virtual and recorded lectures or meetings, texts, and phone calls. Each cohort also shares a prayer and praise list so they can carry each others’ burdens to the Lord together. In addition to traditional coursework, students gain hands-on experience in clinical settings across the country where faculty supervisors travel to meet their preceptors and see students apply their knowledge. 

Students know their professors care about them as individuals — physically, relationally, emotionally and mentally — not just academically. Clarin is known for saying, “Only Jesus was perfect,” as she encourages her students to create a healthy work/life/school balance. Sacrificing a few points to spend time with their families or give themselves enough space to handle the next test well prepares them for the future. They learn the importance of taking responsibilities to their families and their own health just as seriously as commitments to their patients. 

Small class sizes help create meaningful relationships and help professors learn what each student needs. Faculty also work in clinical settings and share their weekly experiences with students, walking them through real-world scenarios and discussing how they should be handled. 

This supportive culture does not sacrifice excellence. Harding graduates are regularly chosen for jobs and internships based on the excellent reputation of the Carr College of Nursing. The family nurse practitioner program boasts a 92.8% first time pass rate on the certification exam and a 100% employment rate over the last five years. 

Family nurse practitioners, like all health care providers, seek to bring healing to communities by caring for individuals — a value at the heart of the Harding experience.




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