The University of Connecticut’s School of Nursing is now offering a new “bridge” program that allows nursing students to enter the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program with a bachelor of science in nursing, rather than requiring a master’s degree.
Sandra Bellini, coordinator of the DNP program, says this new program will allow registered nurses to gain their doctorate degree in nursing with a focus on advanced clinical practice rather than on research, which is emphasized in a traditional nursing Ph.D.
UConn’s move to implement this program comes after the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s 2004 endorsement that by 2015, all new graduates of advanced practice programs must hold a DNP degree rather than just a master’s degree, in order to be eligible for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) certification and licensure. The DNP prepares nurses for a multifaceted career in direct patient care at the APRN level, healthcare management, and health policy development in an increasingly complex healthcare system.
Regina Cusson, interim dean of the School of Nursing, says that the new program “is really going to impact the care patients receive. Not only will the graduates be experts in care, but they will also be significant leaders and change agents who will enhance the health of all of us.”
As for its impact on advanced practice nursing students, Cusson says, “They will have a whole new repertoire of skills in the clinical practice arena.”
UConn’s program stands out among DNP programs because it offers a variety of tracks, including specialization in future career fields such as Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Family Nurse Practitioner. Bellini notes that by emphasizing a higher level of clinical practice experience, UConn’s BS-DNP program will graduate a new generation of highly skilled nurses “who will lead the future of healthcare.”
The program spans four years for full-time students, and accepts applications on a rolling admissions basis. The first class is expected to graduate in May 2016.