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Akron, Kent State nursing schools team up on proposal for doctor of nursing practice degree

If all goes well, the two schools could offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice by 2010. Eighty schools already offer the DNP, which the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Members of the association decided that, by 2015, the DNP will be required for all advanced practice nurses.

Nursing education is changing and institutions in Ohio are following suit.

Nursing schools at The University of Akron and Kent State University are in the early stages of a proposal to offer a doctorate for advanced nursing practice. The degree, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), will be required for anyone who wants to become an advanced practice nurse after 2015.

The schools’ proposal still needs approval of the two universities and the Ohio Board of Regents. But if all goes well, the program could begin in the fall of 2010, said Laura Dzurec, Kent State’s dean of nursing.

The University of Akron-Kent State collaboration stems from a goal established in 2004 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Members of the association decided that, by 2015, the level of preparation necessary for advanced practice nurses – including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives – should shift from a master’s degree to a DNP.

The DNP prepares “expert practitioners” in a way that is consistent with other health professions and allows them to serve as clinical faculty, said Margaret Wineman, dean of nursing at The University of Akron. She cited a 2005 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which stated that the development of a “nonresearch clinical doctorate, similar to the M.D. and Pharm.D. in medicine and pharmacy, respectively” would meet a need.

More than 80 universities throughout the United States, including four in Ohio, already accept students into DNP programs, according to a list maintained by the AACN. Case Western Reserve University is home to the nation’s first nursing practice doctorate.

Dzurec said she thinks people are “chomping at the bit to do the DNP.”

Assuming the program gets the green light to move forward, The University of Akron and Kent State will begin by admitting students who have master’s degrees and are working as advanced practice nurses but want to earn the DNP, Wineman said.

Another goal is to admit students who have earned bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The course of study will vary accordingly. For those with bachelor’s degrees, it will take between three and three-and-a-half years to complete the DNP, said Kathy Ross-Alaolmolki, assistant dean at Akron’s College of Nursing.

[Photo courtesy of Flickr user gadgetdude]