WSSU Approved to Offer Doctorate Program in Nursing Practice

February 14, 2013

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) has received approval from the University of North Carolina's Board of Governors to establish a doctor of nursing practice program that should be available to students in fall 2013.

            "Given the strong foundation in our nursing program, we are extremely pleased to be able to expand our efforts by offering the doctorate program," said Chancellor Donald J. Reaves.  "This new program is also consistent with the university’s goal of preparing graduates to be leaders in their professions and in their communities, as well as our efforts to meet the needs of the region and the State of North Carolina."

            "The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is a natural expansion of our efforts to prepare a diverse population to be leaders in the healthcare field," said Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of the School of Health Sciences.  "Given the highly complex, fast-paced healthcare environment, a practice-focused doctorate is certainly the appropriate direction to ensure that nurses are prepared to provide advanced care, particularly in working with populations with limited access to healthcare due to factors such as location and limited income."

            The DNP program will prepare graduates to function as clinical leaders in healthcare and academic settings, as well as to serve as executive healthcare managers.  It will be a three-year program for students with a B.S. degree in nursing and the program will take 12 to 18 months to complete for students holding a master's degree in nursing.

            "We surveyed our current undergraduate and graduate nursing students and alumni last year and saw that a significant number from both groups planned to pursue a DNP," said Dr. Lenora Campbell, associate dean for the division of nursing.  "In fact, nearly 40 percent of those who responded indicated they would pursue a doctorate in nurse practice so we know there is student demand for the program.  We also have continued to see strong demand for our nursing graduates with bachelor’s or master’s degrees, but we know there is an even greater growing demand for advanced practice nurses with strong leadership, policy and research skills within the healthcare field."

           The North Carolina Institute of Medicine has anticipated the need to increase the number of healthcare practitioners in primary care and has recommended expansion of nurse practitioner programs within the University of North Carolina to meet the growing demand and to increase nurse workforce diversity to more closely reflect the composition of the population served. As baby boomers continue to increase the need for healthcare services, high demand is predicted for nurse practitioners, particularly in underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas.

            "To ensure that we have the resources necessary to meet the societal needs, we will maintain our nurse education graduate program, but transition our master’s level family nurse practitioner program to the DNP degree as the demand lessens," Campbell added.  "Additionally, the doctorate program will take advantage of significant existing internal collaborations between various departments within WSSU, while also pursuing collaborative opportunities with other schools.  For example, we have agreed to share faculty expertise with the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and are discussing potential for future course sharing.  This collaborative approach strengthens each institutions DNP program and eases some demand on faculty resources.  WSSU is also partnering with Duke University's School of Nursing in a program to increase the number of underrepresented minority nurses who are prepared to enter PhD programs in nursing and other related biomedical and behavioral science disciplines."

            This is the second doctoral program offered at WSSU.  A doctoral program in physical therapy was established in 2011.

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