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December 18, 2009
By Claudene Wharton
Next fall, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno will join the ranks of other prominent universities in the country, such as Purdue, Duke and John Hopkins, in offering a new advanced degree for nurses, the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (DNP).
“The DNP program is essential to provide nurse practitioners with the increased skill set to provide the best health care for Nevadans, in partnership with physicians and hospitals,” said Carolyn Yucha, dean of UNLV’s School of Nursing. “DNP graduates will work hand-in-hand with physicians as part of primary care teams, or where appropriate, specialty services.”
Patsy Ruchala, director of University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing, added that the DNP will also provide education in evaluation of practice and care delivery models and other administrative skills.
“The profession needs a higher level of preparation for leaders who can design and assess care, especially with the shortage of nursing personnel and the national concerns about the quality of care and patient safety,” she said. “The program will also help fill that need.”
Ruchala said that students in the program who choose to take additional education courses will also be prepared to become nurse educators.
Those enrolling in the program can choose the “Advanced Practice” or the “Nurse Executive” track for the second year of the two-year, 39-credit program. Only those holding an MS degree will be eligible to apply for admission into the program.
In order to accommodate working professionals’ schedules, the program will be offered entirely online.
Students will apply and be admitted to either university, and will only be required to visit their respective university for meetings once each academic year. UNLV faculty will teach seven courses; University of Nevada, Reno faculty will teach seven courses; and faculty of the student’s respective university will teach seven courses. Each school plans to admit 14 students next fall.
“At this time of economic crisis, this is a collaborative program that will better use resources within Nevada’s university system,” Ruchala said. “We are thrilled to be working with Dr. Yucha and UNLV to offer this collaborative degree that will benefit the entire state.”
Yucha agreed, stating, “This collaborative program allows both of our state’s universities to stay competitive with our peer institutions and help meet the increasing demand for DNP-prepared nurses. It’s the Nevada System of Higher Education working at its best.”
“UNLV and UNR deserve a tremendous amount of credit for working together and focusing on efficiency and effectiveness during a time of such limited resources,” said Maurizio Trevisan, Nevada System of Higher Education executive vice-chancellor and CEO of the Health Sciences System. “By combining the faculty expertise and resources of the two state universities, the collaborative DNP program will include the best faculty from across Nevada, will share the cost burden for a new program, and will fulfill the mutual goal of collaboration between the two university-based nursing programs.”
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the University of Nevada, Reno are part of the Nevada System of Higher Education. Together, the two universities’ nursing schools had 199 nursing graduates pass the RN licensure exam last year, helping to fill the nursing gap in the state. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that by the year 2020, the number of registered nurses in Nevada will fall 27.5 percent below the state’s actual need.