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ODU to offer Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree

Old Dominion University will offer a new doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) degree program beginning with the spring 2009 semester.

The DNP program is aimed addressing a shortage of advanced practitioners, as well as training needed nursing instruction faculty. The program will be structured to train nurses in increasingly necessary areas, such as advanced diagnostics, emerging medical technologies, and the care of diverse and underserved patient groups.

"This new doctoral degree will help to elevate the program to a new level of professionalism," said Andrew Balas, dean of ODU's College of Health Sciences. "ODU is definitely ahead of the curve."

The DNP program will require 36 credit hours in addition to the current Master's degree program requirements, six of which will consist of advanced theory coursework. Another 12 credits will be devoted to leadership and policy, nine to clinical residency, six to research and three to a capstone project.

The new program is partly in response to growing student demand for a higher level of training in nursing programs. In a survey of graduate students enrolled in the ODU Master of Science Nursing program conducted in January 2008, approximately 52 percent answered that they would be interested in obtaining a doctorate in the program. Furthermore, between 2006 and 2008, ODU received a number of e-mails from prospective students indicating that their interest in a doctoral nursing program.

"We have already seen an increase in the number of applicants to the program," Balas said. "There's a high level of interest in this program."

The university is also aware of the demand for highly trained nurses among potential employers. A 2007 survey of health-care administrators in Virginia conducted by the Virginia Organization of Nurse Executives indicated that more than half would hire DNP-prepared nurses, and over 67 percent would be interested in hiring doctorate level nurse practitioners.

While the current level of education required for practicing nurses in Virginia is a Master of science in nursing, there is a measurable shortage of qualified nursing teaching faculty, which requires a doctoral-level education. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported in 2007 that a survey of 344 nursing schools revealed 767 teaching faculty vacancies. The schools reported the need to hire an additional 43 qualified teachers vacancies in order to keep pace with student demand.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2006 and 2016, employment opportunities for nurses will grow by approximately 23 percent, with registered nurses filling 587,000 new jobs.

This article was posted on: July 15, 2008

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Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.