UA offers clinical doctorate degree for nurses


The University of Akron's School of Nursing has begun enrolling students in fall 2013 courses for its new
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Learn more

Visit the Doctor of Nursing Practice online.

The DNP, a clinical doctorate, differs from the traditional research-focused Ph.D. and recognizes advanced clinical practice similar to the clinical doctorates in other professional fields. This degree is a terminal clinical degree that educates students with the skills and competencies needed to assume advanced practice leadership positions in a variety of complex health care environments.

Degree addresses growing need

The DNP degree has emerged in response to the expansion of knowledge underlying practice, the increased complexity of patient care, and the growing need for doctoral-prepared advanced practice nursing and faculty.

In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing resolved to move the current level of education necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master's to the doctorate-level (DNP) by 2015. Universities throughout the nation have begun making the transition.

"The nation needs highly educated nurses that can provide leadership for the advancement of health care and the changes needed in the health care system,” says UA's Dr. Elaine Fisher, professor of nursing.

In addition, she points out that there is a direct link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient safety and satisfaction.

Experienced practitioners

In the midst of a nationwide nursing shortage, Fisher is working on building partnerships with local hospitals and providing them versatile and experienced practitioners. She indicates the DNP program can be completed in two years of full study. Part-time options are also available.

Dr. Melissa Horn, the coordinator of advanced practice nursing, says there will be two courses per semester delivered in what is called "hybrid" format; that is, the program will comprise two face-to-face weekend sessions during the semester, along with online learning activities.

Horn is particularly excited about the portion of the program dealing with genetics and genomics, what she calls the "wave of the future." Another distinctive feature of UA's program, she says, is the combined clinical and academic expertise of its DNP- and Ph.D.-prepared faculty.

The UA School of Nursing will host an information session about the DNP program, and the difference between the DNP and Ph.D., on Monday, Feb. 18, at 7 p.m. in Mary Gladwin Hall 305.

 Story by Nicholas Nussen

Media contact: Sarah Lane, 330-972-7429 or