COLUMBUS, Miss.—On the 40th anniversary of its first charter graduating class for the associate nursing degree, Mississippi University for Women is marking another milestone in its history of helping advance healthcare for the state.
Beginning in January 2013, the university enrolled its first class in the newly approved doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) program, said Dean Shelia Adams.
“We wanted to focus on an area of strength for us,” she said. “This degree will be offered for nurse practitioners to enhance their skills in clinical practice, thereby improving patient care delivery for our state. At the same time, the DNP program will provide the breadth and depth of knowledge required for nursing doctoral practice degrees.”
The W opened the first master’s level nurse practitioner program in Mississippi and began admitting students in 1975, Adams said. “We were the first in the state to offer this degree, and the only one until the mid to late 1990s. Therefore, The W is the recognized expert in nurse practitioner education within Mississippi.”
The DNP program responds to national studies calling for advanced nursing educational opportunities to help the profession meet the increasing complexities of the healthcare system. In 2010, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine called for the number of nurses with doctorates to be doubled by 2020.
“The MUW DNP program will enable nurses to achieve higher levels of education in the specialized area of nurse practitioner education and will increase the number of nurses with a doctorate, in keeping with the IOM recommendations,” Adams said.
Based on feedback from practicing nurse practitioners, MUW’s program will provide intensive studies in areas such as advanced diagnostic methods, advanced radiology, pharmacology and medically oriented anatomy and physiology while expanding scientific knowledge, improving the quality of patient care delivery and improving patient outcomes. Those entering the DNP program may opt for a one-year very intensive program or a two-year part-time program to enhance their practice roles. Both will require a culminating translational project with the intensity of a dissertation, Adams said.
“For the translational project, DNP candidates will have to research, implement and publish the results of a project focused on practice,” she said. In total, the program will require 38 to 44 hours past the master’s degree, and those exiting the DNP level will be required to have a minimum of 1,000 clinical hours.
When the program launched in January, it became the only doctoral program at MUW.