Graduates from two of UCF’s nurse practitioner programs achieved a perfect score on their national board certification exams this semester.

Altogether, 29 College of Nursing’s graduates achieved certification as either adult-gerontology primary nurse practitioners or family nurse practitioners, two specialties that are in growing demand in the health care market. The certification exams are the final hurdle before a masters of nursing graduate is able to begin practicing as a nurse practitioner.

Dr. Christopher Blackwell, an associate professor and instructor in UCF’s nurse practitioner programs, said UCF students scored well thanks partly to the dedication of its staff.

“I truly believe our programs have such high pass rates because we have such incredibly dedicated faculty,” Blackwell said. “We try to challenge students beyond just comprehension.”

Nationally, about 80 percent of the students who take the test pass, according to the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which administers the exams.

Unlike registered nurses who work alongside doctors to manage a patient’s care, a nurse practitioner is able to function independently as a primary-care provider, according to the nursing board. Nurse practitioners are able to prescribe medicines and specialize in specific forms of care, such as family medicine.

Blackwell said the market is increasingly relying upon the skills of nurse practitioners to treat patients and occupy some of the roles traditionally filled by doctors.

“We’ve got a lot of emerging research that shows that nurse practitioners can provide the same quality of care as a physician at a fraction of the cost,” Blackwell said. “So the healthcare system has really started to embrace nurse practitioners in a much greater scope than they used to and, as a consequence of that, our programs have really exploded.”