• Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN)

    The focus of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is summed up into five words: innovation, research, visionary, diversity and values. The School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University has several graduate and postgraduate programs available and include online or on campus learning.

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    • Accreditations CCNE Accredited ACME Accredited
    • Location Nashville, Tennessee
    • Programs DNP, MSN, RN-to-MSN, Entry-Level Master's, MSN-to-DNP, MSN to PhD, CNM, NP, PhD, BSN-to-PhD, Post-grad Certificate, Other
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    Vanderbilt School of Nursing (VUSN) Launches Redesigned MSN Programs in Informatics, Leadership (December 2018)

    Vanderbilt University (a private entity) School of Nursing has redesigned two of its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) specialty programs and relaunched them with revised curricula, educational formats and degree requirements. The programs, Nursing Informatics (NI) and Nursing and Health Care Leadership (NHCL), are now accepting applications for admission in fall 2019.

    As part of the relaunch of its Nursing Informatics and Nursing and Health Care Leadership specialty programs, all members of the fall 2019 NI and NHCL classes will receive scholarships valued at 10 percent of their first year tuition.

    In announcing the redesigned specialty programs, VUSN Dean Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, and Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing, said that the school had recently re-evaluated the two specialties to determine if there were newer or better ways to serve students and prepare them for leadership roles. “Nursing, perhaps above all professions, understands the need to periodically revise programs of study to meet the needs of a rapidly changing health care system and incorporate the best practices, thinking and evidence,” she said.

    One major change for the two specialties was moving them to be part time only, which is a significant draw for many registered nurses who want to continue working full time while obtaining a master’s degree. The program will be offered in a modified online learning format that allows students to complete degree requirements without relocating or giving up employment. The programs will incorporate on-campus interactive immersion experiences in August of the first year and periodically during the program of studies. Distance learning activities for the programs will include online conferencing, video-streamed lectures and other technology-based events.

    Curricular changes for Nursing Informatics incorporate newly emerging informatics competencies, concepts and innovations, as well as customized practicum experiences. VUSN’s leadership specialty has been renamed Nursing and Health Care Leadership based on feedback from nursing professionals; it incorporates stronger experiential learning, new collaborations with nursing informatics and a focus on real-world learning.

    Associate Professor of Nursing Patricia Sengstack, DNP, RN-BC, FAAN, has been named academic specialty director for Nursing Informatics. Sengstack is the nursing informatics executive at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and former chief nursing informatics officer for the BON Secours Health System, as well as former chief of clinical informatics at the National Institutes of Health, Clinical Center.

    Associate Professor of Nursing Rick Watters, PhD, RN, will serve as interim director for Nursing and Health Care Leadership. An experienced nurse executive and educator, Watters has served in leadership positions as director of quality, chief nursing officer and director of research and education. He has taught nursing nationally and internationally in Australia, Canada and the United Arab Emirates.

    Both specialties are geared for RNs with Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees; RNs with ASN/ADN/Diploma credentials are also welcome but will have additional coursework.

    For information on either program or the fall 2019 10 percent scholarships, please contact Nurse and Health Care Leadership Specialty Director Rick Watters or Nursing Informatics Specialty Director Patricia Sengstack.

    For other admission information, visit online, email VUSN-Admissions@vanderbilt.edu or call 615-322-3800.

    Academic Programs

    Pre-Specialty Master's Entry

    If you have no background in nursing but desire a career in advanced practice nursing, entry into the MSN program through the PreSpecialty master’s program offers you this opportunity. The PreSpecialty year provides the foundation equivalent to the BSN for course work in the selected nursing specialty and allows students to sit for the National Council for the NCLEX exam to become an RN.

    Upon completion of three semesters of PreSpecialty courses, students will enter an additional courses in the declared specialty in order to earn the MSN degree.

    The School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University offers learning opportunities including, but not limited to, accelerated courses of study, several entry options, and select opportunities for nurses and non-nurses alike.

    •    Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
    •    Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
    •    PhD in Nursing Science
    •    Post-Master's Certificates
    •    Post-Doctoral Program

    Beyond the Master’s Programs, Vanderbilt University offers Advanced Practice Nursing specialties and dual certificates including:

    •    Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP)
    •    Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – (AGACNP) - Hospitalist
    •    Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – (AGACNP)  - Intensivist

    Hospitalist Nurse Practitioner

    A unique addition to the Vanderbilt courses is the option to become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Hospitalist (AGACNP Hospitalist).

    What do AGACNP Hospitalists do?

    AGACNP Hospitalists are in hospital providers for patients who need in-depth medical care during their  hospitalization. The hospitalist is prepared by Vanderbilt to provide multi-disciplinary services from admission to discharge. The hospitalist pathway is rigidly focused on providing care to critically ill patients and acutely ill, but not critically ill patients throughout the hospital.

    Hospitalists are often utilized at both tertiary centers and community hospitals, therefore, securing a position in these centers and/or hospitals should not be difficult.

    Special Note:  Due to individual State Boards of Nursing and/or State Higher Educational rules, Vanderbilt School of Nursing may not be able to provide clinical placements and/or location choice(s), but every reasonable effort will be made to accommodate your placement request.

    How to become an Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP):

    To become an AGACNP, the student must graduate from the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. 

    Graduation from the Vanderbilt MSN program prepares the student to sit for the AGACNP certification examination and then become eligible for prescriptive authority consistent with individual state law(s).

    Intensivist Nurse Practitioner

    Another unique addition to the Vanderbilt program of the School of Nursing is to become an Intensivist Nurse Practitioner.

    What do Intensivist Nurse Practitioners do?

    Those who desire specialization as an Intensivist Nurse Practitioner will provide comprehensive care to adults with life-threatening illnesses in the intensive and critical care settings. The student will be part of multidisciplinary teams, mostly found in tertiary centers. This is an adrenaline-pumping job. The student can also specialize and treat different types of critically ill patients such as those in cardiac arrest, systemic shock, respiratory failure and/or arrest, multiple organ failure, overwhelming sepsis, acute coronary syndrome (MI), stroke, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

    Many Intensivist Nurse Practitioners will seek the unique opportunity to join a myriad of highly specialized clinical teams. These teams include:

    • Critical Care Teams
    • Rapid Response Teams
    • Shock Teams
    • Burn Care Units
    • Cardiovascular Intensive Care Units
    • Medical Intensive Care Units
    • Neurological Intensive Care Units
    • Surgical Intensive Care Units

    To become an Intensivist Nurse Practitioner, the student must graduate from the Vanderbilt MSN program which will prepare the individual to sit for the AGACNP certification exam. This will then allow the successful candidate to be eligible for prescriptive authority consistent with individual state law(s).

    Advanced Practice Nursing Specialties Including Dual Certifications

    • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Emergency Nurse Practitioner (Dual AGACNP/FNP)
    • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
    • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP)
    • Nurse-Midwifery (CNM)
    • Nurse-Midwife/Family Nurse Practitioner - Dual Focus
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) - Acute Care
    • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) - Primary Care
    • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) (Lifespan)
    • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner - (WHNP)
    • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner/ Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner - Dual Focus


    The master's, post-master's certificate and doctor of nursing practice nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

    The Nurse-Midwifery program at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing is fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME).

    Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).


    US News & World Report (2019)

    • #8 (tie) in Best Nursing Schools: Master's
    • #5 in Best Nursing Schools: Doctor of Nursing Practice
    • #3 in Nurse Practitioner: Adult / Gerontology, Acute Care
    • #3 (tie) in Nurse Practitioner: Adult / Gerontology, Primary Care
    • #2 in Nurse Practitioner: Family
    • #4 in Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric, Primary Care
    • #2 in Nurse Practitioner: Psychiatric / Mental Health, Across the Lifespan
    • #3 in Nursing Informatics
    • #1 (tie) in Nursing-Midwifery
    • #14 (tie) in National Universities
    • #7 in Best Value Schools
    • #37 (tie) in Most Innovative Schools
    • #74 Best Global Universities

    NICHE (2019)

    • Best Colleges in America #18
    • Top Private Universities in America #18
    • Best Value Colleges in America #36
    • Most Diverse Colleges in America #124
    • Most Liberal Colleges in America #297
    • Best College Locations in America #299
    • Best Colleges in Tennessee #1
    • Best Value Colleges in Tennessee #1
    • Colleges with the Best Academics in Tennessee #1
    • Most Diverse Colleges in Tennessee #1
    • Best College Campuses in Tennessee #1
    • Colleges with the Best Student Life in Tennessee #1
    • Top Private Universities in Tennessee #1
    • Best College Locations in Tennessee #3
    • Most Liberal Colleges in Tennessee #3
    • Best Colleges in Nashville Area #1
    • Best Value Colleges in Nashville Area #1

    Princeton Review (2018)

    • #1 Great Financial Aid
    • #3 Best Quality of Life
    • #3 Happiest Students

    #4 Best Value Among Private Universities, Kiplinger, 2017

    Vanderbilt University ranks 50th - Top 500 World Universities, Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, 2018.

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