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WSU Vancouver introduces new nursing degree

This fall WSU Vancouver admitted 20 students to the new Doctor of Nurse Practice degree, designed to complement the bachelor’s and master’s nursing degrees offered on campus. The new degree is offered at both WSU Vancouver and Spokane.

Doctor of Nurse Practice students may choose one of three specializations: Family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner or advanced population health. Students have different rotations based on their specialization.

“[This degree is] for a nurse who wants to go into advanced practice,” said Jenny Schrock, academic coordinator for the nursing program. “The [student] may be looking for a leadership position, want to go into nursing education, want their own practice or want to evaluate research and apply it in their practice.”

According to Shrock, the new degree focuses on big-picture thinking. Doctoral candidates learn to evaluate systems of healthcare, develop and implement policy changes and apply and evaluate research.

“It prepares nurses to be leaders in their profession,” Schrock said.

The doctoral program was developed in response to a nationwide movement that indicates a master’s degree is no longer sufficient for nurse practitioners.

“These healthcare providers need to be at the doctoral level,” Schrock said. “Healthcare is changing and nurses are filling more specialized roles.”

Students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing may concurrently obtain a master’s degree, which will enable them to take the licensure and certification examinations so they can be employed as nurse practitioners while continuing to work toward their DNP.

“I think that is one of the selling points of our program,” Schrock said.

To accommodate working nurses, the doctoral program combines online material and in-class lectures, most of which are also accessible online,
Schrock said.

“It’s something that really works for the busy working nurse,” she said.

Why become a nurse? According to Schrock, nursing offers a more holistic approach to healthcare.

“A nurse has a different perspective than a physician,” Schrock said. “A physician usually looks at a specific problem and diagnosis, but nurses look at the whole patient and try to address everything that is going on with the individual,” said Shrock.

The DNP admits only 40 students across the state each fall. Admission requirements are similar to those of other graduate programs.
A master’s degree is not required for the DNP degree — students with either a bachelor’s or master’s in nursing may apply. Students must be registered nurses with one year of full-time nursing practice.

The next application deadline is Jan. 10. Scholarships are available. For more information, visit the Doctor of Nurse Practice website.

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