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Developing innovative partnerships on the journey toward better health

Posted: Oct. 20, 2016

The first DNP class convenes during orientation in January 2016.

The School of Nursing launched its doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program by welcoming the first cohort in January 2016. The new professional doctoral program is designed to prepare graduates for today’s increasingly complex health care practice and clinical leadership roles and emphasizes clinical and leadership skills. Graduates are prepared to translate nursing research into evidence-based standards of care while contributing to health care teams that improve patient outcomes.

“Our DNP program, the first in Central Texas, is helping to meet the demand for more practitioners who are able to provide leadership at the highest levels of health care and for highly prepared clinical faculty for schools of nursing,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing. “The strong cadre of tenured and clinical faculty we have in place are doing a great job of leading the research and education efforts necessary for a successful DNP program.”

More than 15 years ago, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) identified the need for a doctorate for advanced practice nursing and recommended that the DNP become the terminal degree for nurse practitioners by 2015. The AACN recognized that the growth in scientific knowledge and sophisticated technology was contributing to the growing need for clinical career paths that would attract outstanding students and retain nurses in clinical careers.

In 2010 the Institute of Medicine published its report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” which affirmed this need and recommended doubling the number of doctoral-prepared nurses by 2020.

The program is designed for nurses who are employed full time. The 45-hour-long program is offered in a hybrid format, which means that classes meet on campus for a two-day period once a month, and students receive online assignments during alternative weeks. Students complete the program in five semesters.

“Nurse leaders pursuing the DNP are innovators, determined to find creative ways of providing better care to patients,” said Jane Champion, PhD, DNP, FNP, FAANP, FAAN and director of the program. “Importantly, these innovations conceptualize DNPs as partners with their patients in the journey toward better health for all.”

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