ECU nursing approved to offer doctor of nursing practice degree
By Laurie Evans
for ECU News Services
East Carolina University’s College of Nursing received approval this month to offer a doctor of nursing practice, or DNP, program beginning this fall.
The University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors voted Feb. 8 to approve the new program. The degree is the highest level of clinical practice education for nurses. Doctor of nursing practice clinicians are experts in applying research findings to clinical practice and improving health care delivery systems.
The national move toward doctor of nursing practice programs is in response to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine calling for nurses to achieve higher education levels to meet changing health care needs.
Dean Sylvia Brown
ECU’s program course work will be 100 percent online, and clinical practice sites will include primary care clinics, hospitals, and public health care agencies. Students will be required to attend skills sessions at the College of Nursing several times a year.
“The emphasis on rural health along with the advanced technology used for teaching in an online and virtual clinic environment are unique features of our program,” said Dr. Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing.
ECU prepares the most advanced practice nurses in North Carolina and is nationally recognized as a leader in online graduate nursing education. U.S. News & World Report ranked the ECU’s College of Nursing 10th out of 72 master’s or doctorate of nursing practice programs in the country in a listing of the best online programs released in January.
The initial DNP student cohort is for master’s prepared advanced practice nurses. The program will be available to registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees in fall 2014. Prospective students may contact Dr. Bobby Lowery, director of DNP implementation, for application information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brown adds that the program supports the college’s mission to serve as a leader in improving rural health care by preparing expert clinicians who will positively impact patient outcomes.
UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro and Winston-Salem State University also received approval for doctor of nursing practice programs. UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University received approval for a shared program. Currently, the only other doctor of nursing practice programs offered in the state are at Duke University and Gardner-Webb University, both private schools.