May 12, 2014

Elms College to establish doctor of nursing degree



(Iobserve file photos/Fred LeBlanc)

Staff report

CHICOPEE – With its doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program launching in the fall of 2014, Elms College will be only the fourth private college in Massachusetts to establish a doctorate program that prepares nurses for the highest level of clinical practice.

The Elms College DNP program joins the college’s acclaimed baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs and will prepare advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) to be eligible for APRN licensure based on national certification requirements. The DNP prepares nurses seeking the top clinical roles of their profession.

“Research has shown there is a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes,” said School of Nursing Dean Kathleen Scoble. “The increasing complexity of the healthcare system in the U.S, and the rapid aging of our population, requires that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible.”

The DNP curriculum builds on knowledge acquired in the baccalaureate nursing program and offers an efficient pathway from a master of science in nursing to the DNP degree. The Elms College DNP prepares advanced practice nurses in two tracks: the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Practitioner (AGACP).

Those with a baccalaureate degree in nursing can apply for the DNP program, which is expected to require three years of full-time study, 81 credits of required coursework, and 1,000 hours of required clinical experience. That leads to achieving the American Association of Colleges of Nursing DNP Essentials and nurse practitioner competencies.

The second pathway into the DNP is for students who have a master’s degree in nursing and are seeking to be nurse practitioners. This requires 68 credits of coursework and 1,000 hours of clinical experience, again with the goal of meeting AACN DNP Essentials and nurse practitioner competencies.