College of Nursing to offer clinical practice doctorate

Beth Barnett Khan

Oct. 8, 2008

College of Nursing to offer clinical practice doctorate

CHARLESTON -- In a move to help shape the future of nursing education and practice, the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing has received approval from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to begin offering the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree as the highest level of preparation for clinical practice.

As a clinical practice doctorate, the D.N.P. is an alternative to a research focused doctoral program (i.e. Ph.D. program). Unlike a Ph.D. program in nursing, which prepares students for careers in research, the D.N.P. program is clinically focused, and graduates are experts in designing, implementing, managing, and evaluating health care and patient outcomes. D.N.P. graduates are prepared to lead in the highest practice and executive ranks in nursing. "As the only academic health sciences center in South Carolina, MUSC is very excited about opening this new program. In addition, the program will be offered online allowing nurses from a range of geographic locations to pursue a doctoral degree," said Gail Stuart, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the MUSC College of Nursing.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there is a severe nurse shortage of nurses with doctorates. Of the three million nurses in the United States, less than one percent have a doctoral degree, and about 10 percent hold a master's degree in nursing. In South Carolina, of the 32,000 nurses, only one half of one percent have a doctoral degree, and just five percent have a master's degree in nursing. Due to the increased complexity of health care, nurses need more education today in order to have better patient care outcomes in the future. Studies have shown that nurse effectiveness is closely related to the amount and type of education they receive, which in turn affects patient outcomes.

The D.N.P. program will be an online program and will open in fall 2009 with two points of entry: post-baccalaureate and post-masters. Upon completion of the program, students will receive both a master's and doctorate in nursing practice degree. The program will have three advanced practice tracks: Pediatric, Adult and Family. All graduates from these tracks will be able to sit for certification as a Nurse Practitioner. For more information about the program, visit the College of Nursing Web site at or contact Felicia Wright at 843-792-4622 or

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 11,000 employees, including 1,500 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.6 billion. MUSC operates a 750-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or