March 14, 2008

VUSN set to offer Doctor in Nursing Practice degree

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Linda Norman

VUSN set to offer Doctor in Nursing Practice degree

Donna McArthur

Donna McArthur

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing will begin offering a Doctor in Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree this fall.

“The nursing discipline is new to initiating this degree option for advanced practice nurses, and we are very excited about moving forward with this new program,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics at VUSN.

The School of Nursing has been working for two years to develop a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) program to address increased complexity in health care, the explosion of knowledge and technology, and national issues related to patient safety and quality improvement, all of which call for fundamental changes in the education of health care professionals.

The School's newest offering received approval by the Faculty Senate in February and by the University and Medical Center Boards of Trust last week.

In 2004, the D.N.P. was initiated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) as the highest level of nursing practice and endorsed by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF).

In 2006, the work of developing the Vanderbilt program began.

“Doctoral programs in nursing have traditionally been research-focused,” said Donna McArthur, Ph.D., R.N., program director.

“The D.N.P. program is different because it is practice-focused, following in the trajectory of other well-established practice doctorates like psychologists, pharmacists and dentists.”

The Vanderbilt D.N.P. student will use evidence-based practice methods within clinical settings throughout the program.

The curriculum was designed to meet the competencies outlined in “The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing” (AACN, 2006) and will encompass five semesters that blend on-site mentored immersion experiences at the beginning of each semester with online course delivery methods for advanced practice nurses in rural areas and to clinicians who want to work while advancing their education.

D.N.P. graduates will be leaders in developing practice innovations, and working as expert clinicians with diverse populations in community and academic settings, thus impacting both nursing and faculty shortages.

“We appreciate the support of the University and the faculty in launching this program, and are pleased that the program has received the final stages of approval” said Norman.

“We have received hundreds of unsolicited inquiries about the availability of a program like this and know our curriculum will meet an important need.”

Initially, the entry level to the D.N.P. program will be post-Master's. McArthur anticipates 30 candidates enrolling this fall with the program growing to 50 students in five years.

For more information on this program, please visit