The Villa Maria School of Nursing will be offering an online doctor of nursing practice – DNP – at Gannon University starting in the fall.
The DNP degree is a 26-credit “bridge” program or add-on to the advanced practice master’s degree, Dr. Kathleen Patterson, director and assistant professor in the Villa Maria School of Nursing, said.
“The American Association of Colleges of Nursing – AACN – and the Council on Accreditation of Nurses Anesthesia programs – COA – have both made a statement that the advanced practice role should transition to the terminal practice degree,” Patterson said.
Brianna Luszcak, a junior nursing major, said she will take advantage of a graduate program and potentially a DNP program.
“To be honest, my decision will be based on cost, length and the flexibility that is needed in my life at the time,” Luszcak said. “The fact that Gannon’s Program will be online does make me think that if this is the path I chose, Gannon would be a good fit.”
The DNP can be completed in three academic semesters for full-time students or in four to six semesters if taken part-time.
“The degree prepares advanced practice nurses to evaluate evidence and propose and implement best practices with population aggregates based on the best evidence,” Patterson said.
The DNP degree is different from the Ph.D. degree because the Ph.D. degree focuses on the creation of nursing science using research.
Online programs make accessibility easier for students who will be juggling a job and/or kids while going to school, Luszcak said.
“To be in nursing, you always need to be learning about new research,” Luszcak said. “Learning is not an option, it’s mandatory.”
“Continuing your education is always a great thing and I plan to go to graduate school. The advantages of having a DNP are the rewards you get psychologically, economically and professionally.”
Heather Wilson, a junior nursing major, said an online program is enticing and gives a student a lot of freedom.
“Advancing in your degree provides even more opportunities for you as a nurse,” Wilson said. “It comes with more money, better health care coverage and better hours.”
Wilson said she wants to pursue getting a DNP in the future so she can specialize in one specific field.
“I sometimes find online classes to be harder than regular classes because it is all up to my own time management skills – which sometimes are not the best,” Wilson said.
The DNP degree currently has five students enrolled in the program.
Applicants must submit an application for admission to Gannon if not already enrolled. Students must have an overall GPA of 3.5 in their master’s work as well as three letters of recommendation, a copy of a current license and advanced practice license and a resume.
Students are only eligible to apply if they hold a Master of Science in Nursing – MSN – and are certified as a Nurse Practitioner, nurse midwife or a nurse anesthetist.
“The program allows for a greater ability to implement change based on evidence,” Patterson said.