Southeastern approved to offer doctor of nursing practice degree in partnership with ULL
Contact: Rene Abadie
HAMMOND – The Louisiana Board of Regents Wednesday (Dec. 7) approved a proposal by Southeastern Louisiana University and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette to begin offering a doctor of nursing practice degree.
The program, which has been in development by the two institutions for several years, is one of the first DNP program to be offered at public universities in Louisiana and is designed to meet critical needs in the healthcare industry, including alleviating a shortage of doctorally-prepared faculty to teach future nurses.
“We are pleased the Board of Regents recognized both the need and the quality of the program we will offer,” said Southeastern President John L. Crain. “With the state projecting healthcare as a targeted growth area, this program can have an important impact on meeting the needs and demands associated with that growth.”
The DNP program is the second doctoral-level program to be offered by a Southeastern-ULL partnership. In 2006, the Board of Regents approved the institutions request to offer a joint doctoral degree in educational leadership. The program also builds on a highly successful masters in nursing practice program that the two institutions have offered for years in a consortium that also includes McNeese State University in Lake Charles.
An initial cohort of students is expected to enroll in fall 2012.
Under the arrangement, Southeastern and ULL will share program planning, curriculum development, instruction via the Internet and library resources. Each university will award the DNP degree to students enrolled in the program at their institution.
“The partnership is a great example of collaborative planning and excellent use of state resources,” Crain added. “By combining the strengths and resources of each institution, we are able to offer a much-needed program in a more cost effective manner.”
Implementation of the new program is not expected to require additional funding or faculty initially, Crain said, as costs will be addressed through reallocation of current resources.
Ann Carruth, interim dean of the Southeastern College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the program is an important step in helping Louisiana address pressing healthcare needs.
“Louisiana falls below the national level for both doctorally prepared and baccalaureate prepared nurses,” Carruth said. “We need to significantly accelerate the number of graduates at both levels to meet our needs for a well educated nursing workforce.”
She said the Institute of Medicine’s 2010 nursing report called for states to double the number of doctoral level nurses by 2020. According to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, there are currently about 330 doctoral prepared nurses, or less than one percent of all licensed nurses.
Carruth said the Affordable Care Act of 2010 will be unfolding over the next several years, and all indications are it will have a profound impact on the current healthcare system, including how nurses practice. A strength of the program, she said, is its focus on prevention of disease and illness, an important factor in Louisiana which leads the nation in a number of health disorders.
Surveys of nursing alumni from both universities as well as potential employers indicate interest and support for the DNP program, Carruth added. Currently, she said, 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.
“This will certainly fill the void of opportunity for Louisiana nurses to earn DNP degrees within state-supported institutions in Louisiana,” she said.
The DNP curriculum calls for completion of 39 post-masters credit hours. Didactic courses will be delivered via the Internet, a method currently employed in the master’s program in nursing practice offered by the institutions. This allows participating students to take courses offered by both universities.
Carruth said both institutions will seek national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, as well as approval from the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.
In addition to a bachelor of science degree in nursing and master’s degrees in nursing practice, Southeastern also offers an online RN to BS degree program designed to help registered nurses with diplomas or associate degrees earn a bachelor’s degree.