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Belmont Expands Doctoral Program for Nurses

Belmont University School of Nursing announced today an expansion of its degree program for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to support national efforts to increase the number of nurse professionals prepared for advanced practice and leadership in the healthcare industry. The School is now accepting applications for fall enrollment to a BSN-to-DNP program which provides a direct pathway to the doctoral degree for registered nurses (RNs) who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The new program will prepare students for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) following three years of full-time study offered in a format friendly to working professionals.

Nursing has joined many other health professions—such as medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, audiology and dentistry—to establish a practice doctorate following completion of the bachelor’s degree. Many national studies and reports have led nursing accrediting bodies to move toward this degree to help meet the demands created by the increasing complexities of health care, serious concerns with safety and quality in patient care and the changing landscape of healthcare reform.

“We believe the DNP will be the education necessary for future practice in the advanced role,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean for nursing in Belmont’s Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing. “This program will open doors in nursing practice, policy. and education that will become increasingly evident in the years ahead.”

Belmont previously initiated the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a post-master’s DNP offered to nurse practitioners who had already attained a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). This two-year program is offered in a unique format allowing working professionals from across the U.S. to complete the DNP and will continue as an option for individuals already certified as nurse practitioners.

The School will also continue to offer a master’s degree program preparing RNs for advanced practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner. “At some point soon the DNP will be the exclusive option to prepare for advanced practice,” said Dr. Leslie Higgins, director of graduate studies in nursing at Belmont, “but until then, we will continue to meet the needs of nurses who want to complete their advanced degree at the master’s level.”

The BSN-to-DNP, in essence, combines these two existing programs into a new program designed to meet the future educational needs of nursing leaders. Students will learn how to measure patient outcomes, educate diverse populations, develop and implement health policy, translate evidence into clinical practice and advocate for safe and quality care. Graduates will attain clinical, organizational and leadership expertise designed to meet the changing demands of the present and future healthcare system.

For 40 years, Belmont University School of Nursing has been preparing nurse professionals. With an enrollment approaching 600 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, the School has developed a strong reputation for nurse education in Middle Tennessee and throughout the United States. Nursing has served as a cornerstone for the university in developing other professional programs for advanced healthcare practice in physical therapy, social work, occupational therapy and pharmacy. The School of Nursing is part of the Gordon E. Inman College of Health Sciences & Nursing.

Students interested in the BSN-to-DNP can learn more at, which includes an opportunity to register for upcoming information sessions.

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