Allen College to Offer Doctorate of Nursing Degree

August 23, 2010

WATERLOO, Iowa—Allen College chancellor, Dr. Jerry Durham, announced today that the College has received final approval from its regional accreditation agency, the Higher Learning Commission, to offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.

The Iowa Board of Nursing and the Iowa Coordinating Council for Post-High School Education had both previously approved Allen College’s request to offer the new program. The DNP is Allen College’s first doctoral degree program. The University Of Iowa College Of Nursing is the only other Iowa institution currently offering a DNP program.

Allen College will admit its first class of DNP students in fall 2011. Enrollment will be limited to nurses who already hold a master’s degree in nursing and are certified as advanced registered nurse practitioners. Students will complete the 33-credit program in 24 months through part-time online study.

Students will also come to the Allen College campus for intensive, face-to-face interaction with faculty at least three times during the program. The program requires students to enroll in practicum courses and complete a capstone project prior to graduation. The College plans to admit nurses with bachelor’s degrees and nurses with master's degrees who are not ARNPs to the DNP program beginning in 2015.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the DNP is a “practice-focused” doctoral degree that emphasizes nursing’s clinical aspects including leadership, advanced practice and application of clinical research.

A practice-focused doctoral program provides the advanced educational credentials nurses need to practice nursing at a higher level; enhances knowledge to improve nursing practice; and develops the advanced skills for clinical, faculty and leadership roles.

The AACN has recommended that the DNP serve as the standard educational credential for entry into advanced practice nursing by the year 2015. If this recommendation is implemented, nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists would need the DNP to become certified in their areas of practice.

The AACN reported that DNP programs are now available in 36 states plus the District of Columbia, growing from 20 programs in 2006 to 120 in 2009, with 28 of these opening in 2009. Additionally, 161 programs are currently in the planning stages. Of the nursing schools currently preparing advanced registered nurse practitioners, almost 80 percent are either currently offering, or planning to offer, a DNP program. From 2008 to 2009, the number of students enrolled in DNP programs increased 51 percent, from 3,415 to 5,165.

Chancellor Durham believes that over the next decade, Iowa will experience a growing shortage of nurses with doctorates who can assume advanced practice roles and serve as faculty members. And, the demand for advanced practice nurses will grow in response to a shortage of primary care physicians, a growing population of older Iowans, and an increase of 32 million newly insured people as a result of healthcare reform.

Currently, less than 5 percent of Iowa’s registered nurses are licensed to practice at an advanced level. In addition, because many aging nursing faculty members will retire in the next decade at a time of increasing nursing student enrollments, the demand for faculty with doctorates will also increase. Citing 2009 Iowa Board of Nursing statistics, Chancellor Durham noted that of the 40,000 RNs living in Iowa, only 60 hold a doctorate in nursing, with another 175 holding a doctorate in another field.

Allen College received 10 years of accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission in 2008. Its bachelor’s and master’s programs in nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education(CCNE)  and the master’s program is also accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) . Chancellor Durham said that Allen College plans to seek CCNE accreditation of the DNP program as soon as possible.


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