Recognizing the increasing demand for doctoral-prepared nurses to address the state's healthcare needs, the Louisiana Board of Regents yesterday approved a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to be offered by Southeastern in partnership with the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
With an initial cohort of students expected to enroll next fall, the program is strongly aligned with the workforce development goals associated with the GRAD Act.
Under development for several years, the program is one of the first Doctor of Nursing Practice degree to be offered at public universities in Louisiana. One other DNP program is currently offered at Loyola University in New Orleans. The DNP degree is Southeastern's second doctoral level program; in 2006, the Board of Regents approved the doctorate in Educational Leadership, which is also offered in partnership with ULL. Like the EdD program, each institution will award the DNP degree to students enrolled at their respective institution.
The new degree builds on the strong master's in nursing practice program that Southeastern and ULL have offered for years in a consortium that also includes McNeese State University.
The new program is not expected to require additional faculty or costs to implement, as costs will be addressed through reallocation of current resources. In addition, by combining the strengths and resources of each institution, the program is being offered in a very cost-effective manner. Under the arrangement, Southeastern and ULL will share online instruction, program planning, curriculum development and library resources.
The program is considered an important step in helping the state address pressing healthcare needs. The Affordable Care Act of 2010, which will unfold over the next several years, is expected to have a profound impact on the current healthcare system, including how nurses practice. Louisiana already falls below the national level for both doctoral-prepared and baccalaureate-prepared nurses.
Surveys of nursing alumni from both universities as well as potential employers indicate strong interest and support for the DNP program. Currently, nurses in Louisiana are enrolling in DNP programs in neighboring states such as Alabama, Texas and Mississippi and paying increased costs associated with out-of-state tuition and fees.
The intent is to seek national accreditation of the program from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, as well as approval from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing as soon as possible.