Thursday, November 5, 2009

Loyola University Chicago Doctor of Nursing Practice Program Underway

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing Dean Weighs in on Shift in Nursing Education

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (MNSON) advanced practice nursing students now have access to a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. DNP programs are a developing trend in education that prepare students for the highest level of nursing practice.

“Loyola recognized the need to offer an alternative advanced degree to the research-focused traditional PhD degree,” said Vicki Keough, PhD, RN-Cs, ACNP, CCRN, professor and acting dean, MNSON. “The DNP program will now cultivate our students to become visionary leaders within the growing health-care arena, to influence health-care at the individual patient, family, community, national and global levels.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) proposed this program in 2004. The organization mandated that all new advanced practice nurse graduates (APNs) must graduate with a DNP degree after 2015. Current APNs will be grandfathered in and will not need a DNP to continue their practice. After 2015, the master of science in nursing (MSN), which has been the standard for approximately 50 years, will no longer be accepted for nurses applying for national certification as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives.

"Nurses increasingly are asked to be nimble as new issues emerge in our ever evolving health care system," said Dean Keough. "This program recognizes these changing needs and allows our students to pursue advanced aspects of nursing to better meet the requirements of our current environment."

The DNP program expands competencies in areas that support clinical practice, such as administration, organizational management and policy. DNP graduates also will become experts in assessing evidence, translating research and implementing practical clinical innovations to change care. Dean Keough recently participated in a panel discussion about the DNP degree at the 2009 Advanced Practice Nurses Midwest Conference in Lombard, Ill. The purpose of the panel was to share key information about the forces driving the DNP degree for nurses, which suggest that nurses need to graduate with the knowledge, skills and credentials that reflect the complexities of their practice. The panelists also provided an overview on the evolution of the DNP degree, the curriculum and the accreditation process for evaluation of these programs.

“DNP leaders will be well-positioned for advancing the practice of nursing as leaders, clinical faculty and practitioners,” said Keough. “This will ensure high quality care across all settings through the dissemination of evidence-based practice to patients.”

The Niehoff School of Nursing continues to be a leader in APN education across the nation with approximately 45 to 50 APN graduates each year. The first class of post-MSN students began the DNP program this fall. The program consists of a blend of online learning and immersion days at Loyola University Health System.

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About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.