Florida State to offer new doctoral program for nurses

Lisa Plowfield

Beginning in fall 2009, The Florida State University College of Nursing will offer a new graduate program leading to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The professional clinical doctorate will prepare highly qualified nurse experts for advanced positions as practitioners or administrative leaders in the health care industry.

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) formally approved the doctoral program on Jan. 29.

“We are so pleased that the Board of Governors and the university support the advancement of nursing education to help meet our state’s health care needs and the growing demands on our health care system,” said FSU College of Nursing Dean Lisa Plowfield. “It is essential that Florida remains on the forefront of nursing education. The graduates of this new doctoral program at Florida State University will be well qualified to help solve many of the system issues we face in health care today and meet the changing needs of our patients, their families, and the communities nurses serve.”

The DNP program has been designed for nurses with BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or MSN (Master of Science in Nursing) degrees. Students will choose one of two tracks — either Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Health Systems Leadership. Graduates from the FNP track will be qualified to sit for certification as a family nurse practitioner and provide primary health care services. Graduates from the Health Systems Leadership track will be qualified for administrative leadership positions in the health care industry.

About 16 students will be admitted to the DNP program for 2009. Admissions are expected to increase in each subsequent year, up to 70 students by 2013.

“Since we will be educating working nurses, we hope to offer some blended courses that take advantage of online education opportunities for nurses throughout the state,” Plowfield said.

Nurses who earn the DNP degree are prepared to undertake the highest level of professional practice.

“It is similar to the professional doctorates in medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), pharmacy (PharmD), and physical therapy (DPT),” Plowfield said.

Graduates of the clinical doctoral program will be able to enter an advanced practice specialty area; assume positions of leadership in healthcare; design intricate theory-guided and evidence-based models of care delivery; conduct research on the evaluation of outcomes of care through the application of state of the art evidence; develop programs to promote population health; use technology and information to transform healthcare systems; and collaborate on inter-professional teams to improve patient and population health outcomes across continuums of care.

“These outcomes strongly reflect the overall mission at the FSU College of Nursing, which emphasizes the development of expert clinicians and researchers for practice in diverse settings,” Plowfield said.

“While we will be the seventh university in Florida to implement a DNP program, we intend to make the Florida State University experience unique,” she said. “Working with our state- and community-nursing colleagues, our College of Nursing will place an emphasis on aggregate health care. Such approaches have become critical given the well-known shortage of primary-care providers, particularly in underserved communities and for vulnerable persons with high risk and chronic health conditions.”

To learn more about the DNP program that begins next fall at Florida State University’s College of Nursing, contact Professor Dianne Speake, the college’s associate dean for academic affairs, at (850) 644-6846 or dspeake@fsu.edu; or contact Brenda Pereira, coordinator for Nursing’s graduate academic programs, at (850) 644-5638 or bpereira@fsu.edu. For general information on the College of Nursing, visit the Web site at nursing.fsu.edu.