DNP Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

This fall, we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of our #1 ranked Doctor of Nursing Practice program. 

Thinking back over a decade of progress, “When we looked  at our health care colleagues—medicine, pharmacy, dentistry—they all had practice doctorates,” says Barbara Turner, PhD, RN, FAAN, Elizabeth P. Hanes Professor of Nursing and the founding  director for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. “We realized that nursing was the only health care field that did not have a practice doctorate, making complete sense that the DNP program be created.”

We were the first DNP program in North Carolina, and since our launch, the program has focused on developing practitioners in three critical areas—leadership, innovation and translation of evidence into practice.

“The creation of the DNP program was on-par with everything else DUSON does,” says Katherine Pereira, DNP, RN, FNP-BC, ADM-BC, FAAN, FAANP, professor and director of the DNP program. “DUSON is a trailblazer in nursing education, scholarship and clinical practice. We set the bar very high.”

The School’s DNP program was created as an executive-style, distance based learning program and designed to be available to full-time working practitioners based anywhere in the world.

 “With the great need for faculty at nursing schools around the country, the DNP degree not only improves patient outcomes and nursing practice, it also helps fill the national need for clinically-focused  nursing school faculty,” says Turner.

In 2014, the DNP program expanded to include the School’s Nurse Anesthesia Program. Formerly a part of DUSON’s MSN program, the Nurse Anesthesia DNP Program is a three-year curriculum with a 100% board passage rate since graduating its first class in the fall of 2017.  In 2018, the Nurse Anesthesia program was ranked # 3 in the country. In 2017, the DNP program expanded again to include an executive leadership specialty (ELS) track to equip accomplished nurse leaders with the knowledge and skills to lead complex and ever-changing organizations and health care systems. This specialty is designed to meet the needs of working professionals who want to focus their career skills in leading hospitals, health systems and services across settings. The ELS courses are distance-based with on-campus sessions each semester to deepen the students’ knowledge and skills, interact with health system executives at Duke and create a collaborative network of nursing leaders.

“The executive leadership specialty is unique to DUSON,” says Pereira. “The School noticed students’ interest in topics that were not yet being covered in the program but that would greatly benefit their careers as leaders. The specialty features guest lecturers that are experts in their fields outside of the health care industry such as those in finance, high level leadership and population health management.”

The DNP program’s student projects focus on a variety of practical, real-world health care topics and students are required to publish at least one manuscript with the findings from their projects in an academic journal prior to graduation. The program boasts an exceptional student publication rate that includes articles in a variety of publications such as the Journal of the American Academy of Nurse PractitionersJournal of Emergency Nursingthe Clinical Journal of Oncology and the Journal of PeriAnesthesia.

Graduates of the DNP program are nurse leaders in and of interdisciplinary health care teams and work to improve systems of care, patient outcomes, quality and safety. Additionally, they will be leaders in policy advocacy and setting national agendas.

“The DNP program prepares our graduates to navigate the rapid changes in health care,” says Pereira. “Graduates have the skills to identify population needs, address efficiency of programs and care and are able to effectively and efficiently serve large populations of patients.”  

The Duke DNP program has been ranked #1 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report for two consecutive years—2018 and 2019. We are excited to see what the next decade holds for this outstanding program.

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