A&T Wins Approval for Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

By Labrina VanCliff / 02/29/2024 College of Health and Human Sciences

RALEIGH, N.C. (Feb. 29, 2024) – The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors gave unanimous approval today to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

The new degree is the latest major milestone for the John R. and Kathy R. Hairston College of Health and Human Sciences, which is now North Carolina A&T’s largest college and growing rapidly.

The DNP profession is one of the fastest-growing health careers in the nation. Research cited in the proposal for the A&T program projects 50.7% growth within North Carolina for DNP graduates by 2031. DNP enrollment is surging nationwide as states and communities struggle to meet the demand for health care professionals.

The DNP is a terminal degree that prepares nurses for advanced clinical practice and leadership. At A&T, it will have two tracks: Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) and Transformational Nursing Leadership (TNL). Coursework will be delivered in a hybrid mode to meet the needs of nursing students working full- or part-time.

The program is expected to begin accepting applications for admission to its first cohort in fall 2024.

The proposal notes that DNP will “integrate emerging technology as well as health equity and social justice components in the curriculum to ethically and innovatively address health care challenges, increase minority student representation in advanced nursing practice and leadership, bridge workforce gaps in PMHNPs and equip future nursing leaders with DEI and emerging healthcare technology skills.”

The proposal projects that by its fifth year, the program will have an abiding full-time enrollment of 50 students, with each new DNP cohort totaling 20 students.

“I am excited about the new DNP program approval and the opportunity to engage in training advanced clinical professionals. Nurse practitioners play a critical leadership role in the clinical environment and in areas outside of direct patient care that impact community health,” said Hairston College Dean Elimelda Moige Ongeri, Ph.D. “Integration of emerging technology and health equity competencies into the DNP program will enhance access and improve the quality of care afforded to diverse patient populations in the state of North Carolina. This new program reflects N.C. A&T’s legacy of advancing social justice through strategic workforce development, research and community engagement.”

Bureau of Labor statistics show that as of May 2022, the mean annual wage for nurse practitioners was $124,680, with those working in psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals and in home health care earning significantly higher.

The 36-credit hour, post-master’s DNP degree and the 70-credit BSN-DNP degree options are a cost-effective degree path with significant return on investment for both in-state and out-of-state students. More importantly, the 70-credit BSN-DNP option will enable students to move directly from the bachelor’s degree through to DNP graduation without a master’s degree.

Statewide, seven other UNC institutions have DNP programs, but only two offer the psychiatric/mental health track and both are on the eastern side of the state. Four programs offer nursing leadership, but only one (Winston-Salem State University) is on the western side of North Carolina. All the other programs serve about half the overall DNP enrollment demand. The Hairston College sees opportunity in the unmet demand and sparse program offerings in the Piedmont-Triad and western North Carolina more broadly.

The program’s approval comes on the heels of BOG approval of the M.S. in health psychology in 2020 and the M.S. in physician assistant studies in 2022. The Hairston College has grown to six departments and the School of Nursing, with now four graduate programs and nearly 2,800 students.

“With three clinical graduate programs, the Hairston College is well positioned to lead in graduating underrepresented groups in key and strategic areas that advance community wellbeing,” said Ongeri. “The new DNP program will prepare students for careers as expert nurse clinicians and leaders who develop, implement and evaluate programs of care and transform healthcare systems by using evidence-based innovations and technologies.

“Through their leadership, they’ll facilitate interdisciplinary processes that transform healthcare systems, health-related industries and academia.”

Media Contact Information: lvcliff@ncat.edu

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