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Doctors of nursing practice ready to be tomorrow’s leaders

June 6 marked the graduation of the inaugural class of the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program, offered through the Graduate School of Nursing. This challenging new post-master’s program prepares advanced practice nurses and nurse administrators for leadership roles in clinical and academic settings through education in systems leadership, research translation, informatics and health policy.

The program educates students to be leaders and expert clinicians who can evaluate and translate best evidence into practice, and to serve as role models, preceptors and mentors for future DNP students. The curriculum includes core and specialty courses, a residency practicum and a capstone project, as well as a focus on collaboration and teamwork to improve the quality of care for patients in hospitals and community-based settings. The DNP program has a strong focus on interprofessional partnerships with the UMass Worcester School of Medicine and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Commonwealth Medicine, UMass Correctional Health, UMass Memorial Health Care and the greater Central Massachusetts community.

“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has recommended moving the education of advanced practice nursing to the doctoral level, which is something the GSN readily embraces,” said Paulette Seymour-Route, PhD, dean of the GSN and professor of nursing. “We’re fortunate to be situated in an academic health sciences center with affiliations, both clinical and academic, through which we can engage clinical experts and health care leaders from a breadth of disciplines into our curriculum.”

The GSN joined approximately 120 other programs in the U.S. offering a DNP, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which notes that more than 160 additional programs are currently being planned. DNP programs are available in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The GSN currently has eight students completing year one and will be enrolling the third class in the fall. The DNP program was accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing in April.

Four advanced practice nurses—Dawn Carpenter, Vinetta McCann, Robin Sommers and Mary Sullivan—completed the GSN’s intense 40-credit program, which was designed to build upon the successful master of science in nursing degree already offered by the school. The GSN expects to expand the program over the next few years.

“We’re proud of our first class,” said Kathleen H. Miller, EdD, RN, ACNP, associate dean for advanced practice programs, professor of nursing and director of the DNP program. "These four very hardworking professionals arrived with a depth of experience as skilled clinicians and a shared goal of honing their knowledge of health care practice and administration. They balanced a very rigorous academic load with demanding jobs and full lives. We’re happy to share in their success at Commencement.”