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Students can begin enrolling next year in the first doctoral program ever offered at UW-Eau Claire.
The UW System Board of Regents on Friday approved establishing doctorate of nursing practice programs at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Oshkosh, making them the first of the 11 UW System comprehensive campuses to be granted the authority to offer a stand-alone doctoral program. (Others have worked with UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee on collaborative advanced degrees.)
The DNP program will help the universities fulfill changing practice requirements in nursing and help meet the growing demand for health care officials, said Andrew Phillips, UW-Eau Claire's associate vice chancellor of academic affairs and dean of graduate studies.
Phillips expects 16 students to enroll in fall 2010 in the three-year doctorate program, which was four years in the making. UW-Eau Claire now offers bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing.
The DNP is a professional doctorate, similar to the doctorates required of physicians, pharmacists, dentists and attorneys. Basic research doctorates, such as Ph.D.s, will continue to be limited to UW-Madison and UW- Milwaukee, the UW System's two doctoral campuses.
In a telephone interview Thursday from Milwaukee, UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich said he was confident the Board of Regents would approve the program.
"I think we've demonstrated that comprehensive universities are capable of putting together high-quality programs, where it makes both educational and financial sense," said Levin-Stankevich, crediting UW-Eau Claire officials who developed the DNP program.
"The DNP illustrates how UW-Eau Claire and the UW System can respond to changes in the professions and to demand in the state for the most well-prepared health care professionals," Levin-Stankevich said. "This program will help to ensure continuing opportunity for Wisconsin students to prepare for careers in nursing and for the preparation of future nursing faculty as well."
Mary Zwygart-Stauffacher, interim dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, agreed.
"The DNP will prepare nurses to practice in the complex health care environment that now exists and to influence needed change in our health care system," she said in a statement. "The need for advanced practice nursing in our state is vast, and UW-Eau Claire is poised to help meet that need through this new program."
The DNP will meet new educational recommendations for advanced practice nurses, which change the entry-level degree from a master's degree to a doctorate. The recommendations - determined by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing - take effect in 2015.