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Preparing Future Nurse Leaders

Throughout history, patients and their families have looked to nurses to be their advocates. That expectation has not changed; however, in the rapidly changing world of health care, the role of nurses is increasingly expanding and constantly evolving. Today’s nurses are directing the efforts of entire teams of caregivers, delivering coordinated care that is centered on the patient in a variety of settings.

At Duke University School of Nursing, we want the next generation of nurses to be well prepared for this transformational era in health and medicine. We are committed to continuing a long tradition of educating nurse leaders — men and women empowered to lead change in health and medicine.

With your partnership, we can ensure that tomorrow’s nurses have what it takes to improve health and change lives here at home and around the world.


Among America’s Best Graduate Schools of Nursing, Duke ranks #2 in 2019, according to U.S. News and World Report. Six Duke nursing master’s degree programs also rank in the top 10, including nurse practitioner in family primary care, ranked first; nurse practitioner in pediatric primary care, ranked second; nurse practitioner in gerontology primary care, ranked third; nursing informatics, ranked fourth; nurse practitioner in gerontology acute care, ranked sixth; and nurse practitioner in administration, ranked eighth. Duke's Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program ranked also ranked first. In 2016, Duke University School of Nursing ranked 4th in National Institutes of Health funding for research.

The School of Nursing was ranked the “Best Nursing School for Men” by the American Assembly for Men in Nursing in 2017 and continues to create a welcoming culture based on inclusion and diversity — for students and faculty.

Academic Programs

Duke University School of Nursing provides advanced and comprehensive education to prepare students for a lifetime of learning and for careers as leaders, practitioners and/or researchers.

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing

The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) degree program is for adult learners who have completed at least one undergraduate degree. The students in this highly competitive program often hold additional graduate degrees in other fields and return for a BSN to make a difference in the lives of others. The full-time, campus-based program lasts 16 months with board pass rates that well exceed state and national norms.

Master of Science in Nursing

The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program offers seven advanced practice registered nurse majors and three non-clinical majors. Currently all majors in the MSN degree program offer either a distance-based or online option for students. Students in the master's program currently represent 45 states and 15 countries.

In the fall of 2014, the School of Nursing added a new HIV/AIDS specialty concentration within the primary care nurse practitioner majors as well as an option for a concentration in women’s health. The new specialty concentration is designed to fulfill the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy to reduce the number of new infections, help people with HIV stay healthy and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The women’s health major is designed to provide greater access to preventive and chronic disease care for women.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program prepares nurse leaders to work in and, in some cases, lead interdisciplinary health care teams and to improve systems of care, patient outcomes, quality and safety. It is a distance-based, executive-style program designed for full-time working nurses based anywhere in the world who want to extend their leadership skills. Duke was the first nursing school in North Carolina to offer a DNP program.


The PhD program in nursing prepares nurse scholars who will contribute significant new knowledge related to chronic illness and care systems. These future faculty will join colleagues in top universities across the country to generate and translate knowledge and shape the next generation of nurses at all levels.

Excellence in Nursing Education

In 2013, the National League for Nursing designated the School of Nursing as a National Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. The honor was based on the School’s continuous efforts to improve curricula and engage in innovative, evidence-based teaching practices.

The School of Nursing’s Institute for Educational Excellence (IEE) is the embodiment of the School’s commitment to excellence in nursing education. The Institute aims to prepare faculty to serve as nursing education leaders and scholars who transform nursing education and to create a culture of excellence and innovation and a community of learning where faculty continually seek to become more effective and creative teachers. This Institute is one of the few in the country and is crucial if our faculty are to stay informed and skilled in using classroom and clinical pedagogies that will develop nurses for the future. Investment in this IEE will provide key resources to support faculty in their continual pursuit of educational excellence.

Innovative Teaching Strategies

Today we are integrating the best of our educational tradition with a new focus on team-based learning, simulation and exposure to clinical research and real world global and community health settings. Our MSN and DNP programs are all distance accessible, with students enrolled from over 37 states, allowing the ‘reach’ of Duke University to extend across our country.

We are educating nursing students in all of our programs today who will be leaders in a rapidly changing world of health. To succeed, we seek philanthropic investment in permanent endowments for student scholarships.

Advancing Education and Care through the Digital Environment

With the health care environment becoming more and more technologically advanced, the nurses of today and tomorrow are expected to be on the forefront of innovation. The School of Nursing has created a learning environment aimed at preparing students for the digital age.

Students are exposed to faculty members who are exploring ways to use virtual reality, simulation and other technology to improve patient care and education.

In 2013, the National Institutes of Health awarded researchers at the School of Nursing a five-year, $3.2 million grant to conduct an extensive randomized control trial on the feasibility of educating diabetes patients and supporting their behavior through a virtual environment. The goal is to create a more effective model of diabetes intervention and management.

Our researchers are in the second phase of a study to explore the potential of a new frontier in health care delivery, Google Glass. The high-tech interactive glasses could be a useful tool for providers.

For example, the technology could allow nurses caring for a patient to take a photo and video of a patient’s wound that would then be placed in the patient’s electronic medical record. Or, in a trauma situation, Google Glass could help a paramedic connect with the hospital emergency department and record a patient in real time while sending information and receiving instructions. It is the potential for hands-free interactions through voice commands that makes Google Glass appealing for health care providers, and our researchers are exploring whether the technology can make a real difference to patients.

Center for Nursing Discovery

Located in the School of Nursing, the Center for Nursing Discovery is a place for student nurses to hone their skills in the delivery of health care using the latest technology. The 6,937-square-foot space includes an obstetrics lab for childbirth exercises, three complete replicas of a real-life operating room and a task training room that students can access 24 hours a day. The Center features realistic, programmable adult, infant and child patient mannequins that students use to practice techniques such as IV or catheter insertion and wound assessment or nurse anesthesia students use while gaining skills in anesthetic delivery during surgery.

Scholarships that Change Lives


Hughes was named a Duke Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholar in 2014. The scholar program aims to increase the number of doctorally prepared faculty available to teach in nursing schools nationwide.

Hughes graduated magna cum laude with associate and baccalaureate degrees in nursing from Norfolk State University and completed a master of science degree in nursing education and a post-master’s certificate in nursing informatics from Walden University. Her clinical practice experiences have included caring for patients living with cardiovascular diseases in critical care, intermediate care, medical, surgical and community-based settings. From 2011 to 2013 she served as a subject matter expert for the Norfolk State University Creative Gaming and Simulation Program VNurse Project, which was designed to educate nurses and nursing students in virtual medical surgical inpatient environments and to evaluate these nurses’ effectiveness in providing care.


The School of Nursing selected Aviles as its University Scholar for 2014-2015. As a University Scholar, he receives full tuition and the opportunity to participate in professional seminars and other scholarly gatherings. Designed to stimulate an interdisciplinary community of scholars, the University Scholars Program was created in 1998 by the Office of the Vice-Provost of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Born in Mexico City, Aviles moved to Norwood, North Carolina, at age 14 with no knowledge of the English language or American culture. He went on to receive a bachelor of nursing degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Immediately following graduation, he participated in open-heart surgery training through Duke University Medical Center. He continued to work as an open-heart surgery nurse at Duke and then at Northeast Medical Center in Concord until 2007. Aviles earned his master’s degree in nursing from UNC Charlotte in 2007.

That same year, he began working as an adult nurse practitioner at Carolinas Medical Center (CMC) in Charlotte. In 2013, Aviles joined the Hepato- Pancreatico-Biliary Surgery Program at CMC, where he cares for patients with complex cancers of the liver and pancreas.

The scholarship has opened so many doors for me. I work full time, and as the only provider for my family, the financial benefit is big. I don’t take that lightly. But most importantly, the scholarship allows me to really focus on what I’m learning. I’ve had the ability to meet and exchange ideas with some of the brightest individuals in the world — of all different backgrounds — at Duke. Being here has opened my mind to a more global way of thinking.”


Figuracion was a recipient of the highly competitive Graduate Scholarship from the American Cancer Society. The scholarship is awarded to oncology nurses who wish to become advanced practice nurses in the care of individuals with cancer.

Looking to enhance her skills as an oncology nurse, Figuracion left her Los Angeles, California, home to enroll in Duke’s adult-gerontology/oncology nurse practitioner program in the fall of 2013. In addition to juggling five classes per semester, she worked one or two days a week as a per diem oncology infusion nurse at the Duke Cancer Center’s outpatient treatment unit. She was also actively involved with several student organizations and was a co-founder of the Pets-at-Duke Animal Assisted Program at the cancer center’s infusion center. The program allows patients to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of visiting with pets while receiving chemotherapy. Figuracion is now a teaching associate with Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

“Without the American Cancer Society Graduate Scholarship, I don’t think I would have been able to succeed and complete this program in four semesters. This scholarship provided opportunities for me to become more involved in the university as well as the community. I feel that I had such a great advantage having (Duke nursing faculty members) Dr. Susan Schneider and Dr. Mary Lou Affronti as my advisors. They both supported and pushed me to challenge myself to further grow in the oncology field.”


Neto is a recipient of the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship. Established by the Helene Fuld Health Trust, the scholarship supports students in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing degree program.

Born in Portugal and raised in Massachusetts, Neto was unable to afford college. She worked as a full-time nanny so she could attend community college part time. Eventually, she earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Norwich University in Vermont.

She was a scholar in the Health Equity Academy, the nursing school’s summer immersion diversity program. She also participates in three nursing student organizations.

“Being able to go to Duke has been a life-changing experience. The faculty here treat you like a colleague from the moment you get here, which has allowed me to see myself in a professional nursing role. Getting such a quality education would never have been possible without the scholarship. That support means I’ll be able to go on to become a labor and delivery or pediatric nurse and make a difference in the lives of mothers and children.”

To learn more about how you can support Duke University School of Nursing, please contact a member of our professional staff.