LITTLE ROCK — The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Nursing will offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) to Doctorate of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) degree program, beginning in fall 2017, to help address the state’s need for more health care providers.
The program received approval from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education on Oct. 28. This adds a second pathway at UAMS for nursing students to obtain a D.N.P., in addition to the College of Nursing’s post-master’s D.N.P. option.
The three-year, full-time program will allow B.S.N. graduates to obtain a doctorate — the highest level of nursing practice — without first obtaining a master’s degree. Nurse practitioners are able to provide many of the services performed by physicians, including diagnosing and treating illnesses and chronic conditions, performing child and adult checkups and prescribing medications.
“Our state and nation face a number of pressing health care challenges, including a shortage of providers that limits accessibility to high-quality care,” said Stephanie Gardner, Pharm.D., Ed.D., UAMS provost and chief academic officer. “Increasing the number of highly educated advanced practice registered nurses meets a crucial state need for the provision of accessible, affordable, quality care to Arkansas residents.”
Patricia A. Cowan, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the College of Nursing, said this would help UAMS address the state’s shortage of primary health care providers in a timely manner while also allowing students an opportunity to stay in-state for their education.
“There is currently no B.S.N. to D.N.P. program in central Arkansas, which requires many students to seek education for this degree outside the state,” said Cowan. “It stands to reason that students from Arkansas who are educated in Arkansas are more likely to live and work in Arkansas.”
In 2015, Arkansas ranked 46th among 50 states for physicians per 100,000 residents, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) State Physician Workforce Data Book. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designates 82 areas in Arkansas as primary care provider Health Professional Shortage Areas.
Nursing is moving in the direction of other health professions in the transition of master’s level education to the doctorate, Cowan said. This fosters the highest level of education and all the personal, financial and professional benefits a doctoral degree confers.
The program will have a total of 69 required credits, with courses offered on-campus and online as well as through distance education. Its first class will have 20 students.
Upon completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination to become advanced practice registered nurses in one of the clinical specialties of family, pediatric primary care, pediatric acute care, adult gerontology acute care, adult gerontology primary care and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a northwest Arkansas regional campus; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,021 students, 789 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.