In many professional fields, those seeking higher pay and job status are continuing their educations through masters and even doctoral degrees. This is no different in the nursing world, in which nurses who spend that three to six years to attain a doctorate (called a DNP) can seek careers in health administration, clinical research and advanced clinical practice. And more and more universities are offering DNP degree programs to meet the demand.
Fairfield University in Connecticut is the latest to announce it’s accepting applications for its first doctoral level nursing program (DNP) in fall of 2010. Fairfield isn’t the first to offer such a program. Jean W. Lange, PhD, RN, Fairfield University professor of nursing and doctoral program director attests that the program will put nurses “on the cutting edge of nursing.” Students who complete the program will be eligible for licensure as family or psychiatric nurse practitioners.
The DNP degree was initially proposed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to address the rapidly evolving healthcare environment requiring nurses to have the ability to assess and analyze complex situations. Today, dozens of schools offer this degree. It remains to be seen how this new trend will affect the relationship between doctors and nurses on a larger scale and where graduates will fit into the current spectrum of highest paid nurses.
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