UND Nursing planning to offer new graduate degree

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News Article

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University of North Dakota


The changing demands of the nation’s complex health care environment require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible. The College of Nursing at the University of North Dakota is in the process of attaining program approval to address these demands by offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

Pending approval by the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education, the UND College of Nursing’s proposed DNP program will be ready for student enrollment in the summer of 2012 and will have part-time and full-time options for post-baccalaureate and post-master’s students. Graduate tracks that will offer the DNP degree include: Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia, Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Adult-Gerontological Nursing, and Advanced Public Health Nursing (post-master’s only). The College will continue to offer Master of Science degrees in Nurse Educator and Advanced Public Health Nursing, as well as the PhD in Nursing degree. Six current CON faculty members are attaining the DNP degree to enhance theoretical and hands-on learning experiences for students who enroll in DNP education at UND.

The DNP degree is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice. DNP-prepared nurses will be well-equipped to fully implement the science developed by researchers from all disciplines in practice settings.

The Institute of Medicine report calls for doubling the number of doctoral prepared nurses by 2020 in order to meet primary care needs across the nation.

“Implementing the DNP degree will strengthen the College of Nursing’s ability to meet the demanding healthcare needs of North Dakota,” said Interim Dean Julie Anderson. “Particularly in the rural areas of North Dakota, we see a strong demand for primary care providers. The DNP-prepared nurse will be exceptionally qualified to address this need.”

Currently advanced practice nurses, including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse mid-wives, and nurse anesthetists, are typically prepared in master’s degree programs, some of which carry a credit load equivalent to doctoral degrees in the other health programs. DNP curricula will build on current master’s programs by providing education in key areas, including evidence-based practice, quality and safety improvement and systems analysis and evaluation among other key areas.

In October 2004, members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) developed a position statement that called for moving the level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice roles from the master’s degree to the doctorate level by the year 2015. The position statement calls for educating advanced practice nurses and other nurses seeking top clinical positions in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs.