CHICOPEE — To help master’s-level nurse leaders reach the pinnacle of their careers, the School of Nursing at Elms College has announced a new doctor of nursing practice (DNP) curriculum in health systems innovation and leadership (HSIL).
“Graduates of this program will be awarded a clinical practice doctorate and will be educated at the highest level of nursing,” said Teresa Kuta Reske, director of the DNP program for the Elms College School of Nursing. “The new track will increase the number of advanced-practice nurses who are highly educated, prepared to work within collaborative interprofessional teams, and who can lead changes that improve the outcomes of patient and health systems. We are excited to offer this new track in response to nurse practitioners’ and nurse leaders’ requests to acquire a higher level of knowledge and skills in order to lead effective change of healthcare. Additionally, each student will be assigned a faculty mentor to enhance their professional growth and development throughout the program.”
The doctor of nursing practice degree is a terminal degree that prepares expert advanced-practice clinical nurse practitioners, nurse leaders, and nurse educators for the highest level of nursing practice. A DNP-prepared nurse has practice expertise and works to improve the delivery of care to all patients within the micro and macro healthcare systems.
The DNP curriculum emphasizes implementing or applying new original research to improve patient outcomes, enhance quality of care, and reduce costs. The curriculum is delivered using a hybrid format — with both on-campus and web-based instruction — and offers courses in systems leadership, evidence-based practice, population health, finance, quality improvement, informatics, and other key areas of study that will build on a scholarly final capstone project.
This is a two-year program, designed for nurses who want to continue working while they pursue the DNP degree. The students’ scholarly capstone projects will be related to the areas of nursing where they currently work, or areas in which they have an interest. After earning the DNP degree, graduates can remain in practice, leading in formal and informal leadership roles on cross-professional and interdisciplinary teams to improve and provide quality healthcare.
“Research has shown there is a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes,” said Kathleen Scoble, dean of the School of Nursing. “The increasing complexity of the healthcare system in the U.S. and the rapid aging of our population require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible. DNP students will make a significant difference in the health and well-being of the citizens they will care for in Western Massachusetts and beyond.”
The college will enroll the program’s first students in August to begin studies in September. Ideal candidates include nurse practitioners, midwives, clinical specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse leaders, and nurse educators who currently hold master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees.