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UNC to offer new nursing doctorate program

The University’s School of Nursing will soon offer a new postgraduate degree program for its students.

The school, which last year had to cut undergraduate enrollment because of budget cuts, will offer a doctor of nursing practice program.

The new program, which was approved Friday by the UNC-system Board of Governors, will eventually replace the master of science in nursing program that is currently offered.

Meagen Voss, associate director of communications for the School of Nursing, said the school is planning to start the program in fall 2013.

With the new program, UNC will become one of six state-supported institutions in North Carolina to offer the advanced level of training.

Funding for the new program will likely come from money currently used for the master’s program and tuition, said Kristen Swanson, dean of the School of Nursing.

“We’re starting extremely small,” she said. “We have yet to solidify funding for the entire program.”

Swanson said the program will accept students with bachelor’s degrees as well as students with master’s degrees.

Students currently in the master’s program will be able to apply to switch into the new program, she said.

Voss said the program will help give North Carolina a more highly educated nurse work force.

Debra Barksdale, president of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and director of the new doctorate program, said in an email that the program will offer two tracks.

The advanced clinical practice track will focus on direct patient care and administration, while the organizational leadership track will focus on administrative support for clinical practice, she said.

Swanson said she is excited for the program to start.

“We are incredibly lucky to have (Barksdale) at UNC to launch our DNP program,” she said.

Barksdale said the school anticipates enrollment in the new doctorate program to eventually exceed the current enrollment in the master’s program: 274 students.

She said students in the new doctorate program will learn to care for patients of all ages, manage chronic illnesses and increase the availability of health care.

Swanson said the program will also teach nursing students to deliver health care with the highest quality and safety.

“The School of Nursing is committed to joining the national trend for (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) educational preparation to produce graduates who can improve the health of all North Carolina citizens,” Barksdale said.

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