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One of the Top Nursing Schools to Offer DNP Program

January 18th, 2011

Brenau University, a private university in Gainesville, Georgia, will launch its doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program in Fall 2011 as planned, providing the highest level of education possible for advanced practice nurses, nurse managers and nurse leaders. Brenau recently became a Level V doctoral degree-granting institution, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Brenau had its application approved by the Board of Trustees of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the article noted.

The DNP is designed to prepare experienced nurses for "the highest level of clinical practice and leadership in nursing," according to Brenau University's Department of Nursing website. Only 12 to 15 students will be admitted for this fall semester, but the program eventually plans to build up to 25 new admissions a year by 2015, the Journal-Constitution article indicated.

The DNP is picking up speed across the nation even though only 1 percent of nurses were doctorally prepared in spring of 2010, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The AACN noted that the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) had only accredited 18 DNP programs as of spring 2010, but a whopping 70 DNP programs were pursuing accreditation through CCNE. The AACN noted that it believes the appropriate degree for advanced practice nurses—which includes nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse midwives—is the DNP.

Until recent years, doctoral degrees for nurses had been research-focused doctorates (Doctor of Nursing Science and PhDs) rather than practice doctorates, but there is a strong move among advance practice nursing organizations to get advance practice nurses trained with the DNP.

The AACN conducted a survey further reflecting the move to the DNP. The survey revealed that 72 percent of nursing schools with programs for advanced practice nurses offered a DNP program or were planning to offer a DNP program. (Read more here.)

As of now, those who wish to become an advanced practice registered nurse only need to have a master's degree in their area of specialty. If this organizational movement toward the DNP continues, only those nurses who hold a DNP will be able to work in advanced practice in the future, while those who work as advanced practice nurses with master's degrees will be grandfathered in under the old stipulation.