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Belmont Opens Admissions for New Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Post-MSN to DNP program offers two-year online/weekend hybrid curriculum
Belmont University’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing recently announced the start of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Open to nurse practitioners who have already attained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), the two-year post-MSN to DNP degree offers a flexible online/weekend hybrid curriculum to allow working nurse practitioners to complete their doctorates while maintaining full-time positions. The two-year program is accepting applications now with the first classes scheduled to begin fall 2012.

Dr. Leslie Higgins, a Belmont nursing professor and the director of the graduate studies in nursing program, said, “This new DNP builds on the already established excellence of a Belmont nursing education—in fact, this year the program is celebrating its 40th anniversary. By providing a practice doctorate, we will prepare skilled nurse practitioners to have an immediate impact on their communities, allowing them to apply current research to problems and to implement practical solutions across entire systems.”

Currently, 182 DNP programs exist in the United States, with Belmont offering one of only four Tennessee-based programs. The new program represents Belmont’s fifth doctoral level degree in addition to occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy and law.

Belmont’s School of Nursing receives applications for admission exclusively through the Nursing Central Application Service (NursingCAS), provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).  Applications must be submitted through the NursingCAS system by May 1, 2012 for consideration for fall 2012 admission.

In addition to being a natural extension of Belmont’s current health science initiatives, the new DNP is also a response to a felt national need. In an October 2010 report titled “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education,” the Institute of Medicine (IOM) noted that the 2010 Affordable Care Act will require a comprehensive rethinking of the roles and education of nurses:

The ways in which nurses were educated dur­ing the 20th century are no longer adequate for dealing with the realities of health care in the 21st century. As patient needs and care environments have become more complex, nurses need to attain requisite competencies to deliver high-quality care. These competencies include leadership, health policy, system improvement, research and evidence-based practice, and teamwork and col­laboration, as well as competency in specific con­tent areas such as community and public health and geriatrics. Nurses also are being called upon to fill expanding roles and to master technologi­cal tools and information management systems while collaborating and coordinating care across teams of health professionals. To respond to these increasing demands, the IOM committee calls for nurses to achieve higher levels of education and suggests that they be educated in new ways that better prepare them to meet the needs of the pop­ulation.

One of IOM’s primary recommendations in the report was to “Double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020.” In 2008, only 13.2 percent of the nation’s 3 million nurses held a master’s or doctoral degree.

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