Short description of image contentCaption: Cal State Fullerton is ready to offer its docorate of nursing degree program. Photo: Karen Tapia Download Photo

University Initiative: Health Care

Nursing Doctorate Is a Go

School of Nursing to Offer System’s Newest Degree Program

The California State University has approved the doctor of nursing practice degree program to be offered jointly by Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Los Angeles.

The Southern California CSU D.N.P. Consortium now is sifting through applications and will accept its first students for the new program in the fall, pending final approval by the accrediting organization, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Penny C. Weismuller, associate professor and coordinator of CSUF’s nursing graduate programs, is serving as the D.N.P. consortium director.

Cindy Smith Greenberg, professor and director of Cal State Fullerton’s School of Nursing, said 36 students are expected to be accepted and admitted to the new program. The doctorate is the professional-practice degree that qualifies those who earn it to work in advance-practice fields and in higher education.

Cal State Fullerton is the lead campus for the program and where the D.N.P. students will complete their first year of course work. In their second year, Greenberg said, the students will work with faculty members in their specialty at one of the three consortium campuses.

D.N.P. students will be expected to complete 36 units of course work in two years.

“To prepare nurses at this level meets a community need, and we're very excited about it,” Greenberg said. “The program also helps achieve the recommendations of the 2010 Institute of Medicine Report on the future of nursing, which calls for increasing the education of nurses and doubling the number of nurses with doctoral degrees by 2020.”

Over the past few months, scores of prospective students attended information sessions, led by Weismuller.

Shari McMahan, dean of the College of Health and Human Development, credited Weismuller with leading the development of the collaborative doctoral program, coordinating efforts among the three campuses and providing guidance in curriculum building.

“We are ready to start the program,” McMahan said, adding that two Fullerton lecturers — Nicholas P. Gorman and Katherine Tong — will move into tenure-track positions in the fall as assistant professors of nursing. Their assignments will include teaching and advising in the D.N.P. program.

School of Nursing Stats

Cal State Fullerton's nursing program is one of the largest in the California State University system. Enrollment grew by more than 1,200 percent between 1998 (69 nursing majors) and 2009 (857 majors). Today, about 800 nursing majors are enrolled.

“In this age of expanding health care knowledge, the D.N.P. prepares nurses for work in increasingly complex health care systems,” Greenberg said. “To improve health care outcomes, the evidence generated by research must be translated into clinical practice. The D.N.P. prepares practitioners to evaluate the available scientific evidence and use it in clinical practice to provide best-practice interventions, ultimately improving the quality and safety of health care.”

One of the university's aims is to prepare more nurses to work in myriad settings, thus curbing the nation's nursing shortage, which is projected to reach 800,000 by 2020. In California, which ranks in the bottom five states for registered nurses per capita, the shortage is estimated to be as high as 50,000 by 2015.

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