The university will now develop a proposal for the program, which must be approved by the Board of Supervisors for the University of Louisiana System and the Board of Regents.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree would be a practice-focused doctoral degree for nurses seeking to further their career in advanced nursing practice. Courses would be delivered primarily via the Internet and compressed video.
Northwestern State President Dr. Randall J. Web said,“Because of our leadership role in the state in online education, the Regents’ action includes collaboration with public universities in south Louisiana in offering core courses for the degree electronically. Considering Northwestern’s prominent role in nursing education for over 60 years and the emphasis on quality health care in our region, we feel offering the DNP is a logical progression for our program.”
Northwestern State’s program would be the only one of its type available in north Louisiana. University officials said there is high demand for the program and that many prospective students in north Louisiana are pursuing the DNP degree at out-of-state institutions. Northwestern State has two nurse practitioner concentrations in its Master of Science in Nursing program and is the largest producer of nurse practitioners in Louisiana.
The program would have two options. The first would be a post-masters, post-research doctorate for individuals who already hold advanced practice nursing certification. The second would be post-baccalaureate entry for individuals with a baccalaureate degree. Each option would have a differentfocus.
Development of the program is in line with a proposal by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to promote the DNP as the entry level for advanced nursing practice based on the increased complexity of patient care, concerns about the quality of care and patient safety, demands for a higher level of preparation for leaders who can design and assess care, shortages of doctoral-level nursing faculty and increasing educational expectations for the preparation of other health professionals.
The DNP degree would prepare nurses with a blend of clinical, organizational, economic and leadership skills that would provide a positive impact on health care outcomes.