MUSC's College of Nursing has been granted accreditation for its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program through June 2016 by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
CCNE is the leading accrediting agency for baccalaureate and graduate degree programs in the United States.
The DNP program is unique in that it is offered entirely online and students with either a baccalaureate or masters degree can enter the program. It addresses the most contemporary aspects of expert clinical nursing practice, providing in-depth knowledge and leadership experience in nursing and health care. As the terminal professional degree, it prepares graduates to practice at the highest level in their specialty area. The College of Nursing's DNP program focuses specifically on preparing graduates to work in primary care in adult, pediatric and family specialties.
"We envision that our DNP graduates will contribute to significantly improving access to health care to those in our state and region," said Gail Stuart, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the College of Nursing. "Given the changing nature of health care and the growing demands for services, the timing of our opening and accreditation of this program is excellent."
Sally Stroud, Ed.D., R.N., associate dean for academics for the College of Nursing, said the site visit was successfully completed with no recommendations or concerns and official notice of the maximum five-year accreditation was awarded. "We are so pleased and believe this is a reflection on the outstanding contributions of our faculty and staff, as well as our stellar students, and the MUSC academic community as a whole. The College of Nursing chose to complete the accreditation process early in its development so all students would graduate from an accredited program."
In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released a position statement on the "Practice Doctorate in Nursing." The statement contained several recommendations for the future education of advanced practice nurses. The mandate was for "practice-focused doctoral programs to prepare graduates for the highest level of nursing practice beyond the initial preparation in the discipline" and for the DNP to become the terminal practice degree for advanced practice nurses.
AACN recommended that by 2015, nurses obtain a DNP to begin working as an advanced practice nurse (APRN). In 2008, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education approved the MUSC DNP program, and in fall 2009, the first cohort of students was admitted at MUSC.
In May, the first four graduates of the post-MSN DNP program completed the program. Robin Bissinger, Ph.D., director of graduate programs said the DNP is the degree of choice for advanced practice nurses who want to utilize process improvement methodology to lead initiatives to improve quality, safety and cost of care in any health care setting.
"These students will have the expertise to impact care at an individual, population and global level. Over 200 qualified applicants applied to our DNP program for this year demonstrating not only their commitment to this new practice-focused doctoral degree but also the reputation of the MUSC College of Nursing as a school that prepares leaders who will shape the health care of tomorrow."