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State Board of Education Approves Online Nursing Doctorate


The Idaho State Board of Education approved a new online doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree program at Boise State University in Feb. The program is aimed at nurses who are seeking a terminal degree in nursing that is an alternative to a research-focused Ph.D. The program starts in August 2013.

“This program highlights our growing commitment to the expansion of nursing education programs vital to preserving the quality of life we enjoy in the Treasure Valley,” said Martin Schimpf, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I am very proud of our nursing faculty and the energy and commitment they have put into designing this state-of-the-art program to prepare nurse leaders for the rapid changes we are experiencing in health care.”

Boise State’s ninth doctoral program will prepare more nurses to assume leadership responsibilities in education and the clinical work force, and is self-supporting. Entry into the program will require a current registered nurse (RN) license, a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a master’s degree in a related field, or a master’s degree in nursing.

“Health care systems are growing and becoming more complex and nurses are pivotal in these systems,” said Pam Springer, associate dean of the College of Health Sciences and director of the School of Nursing. “Nurses prepared with practice doctorates have the skills necessary to work within these complex systems to improve the health care experience and outcomes.”

Boise State has forged a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Idaho State University that outlines how graduate education at the two schools can benefit Idaho. The agreement includes a new doctorate in nursing at ISU that will focus on direct care advanced practice nursing.

“We are pleased to work with ISU to coordinate offerings to ensure we can deliver a variety of graduate nursing programs to citizens in Idaho,” Springer said.

Boise State’s DNP builds upon the content of the School of Nursing’s existing master of nursing and master of science in nursing programs. The doctorate is a part-time program consisting of 40 credits earned over eight semesters. Fifteen students per year will be admitted.

The program will emphasize the use of evidenced-based practice to enhance the development of interventions that affect health outcomes and that are effective even in highly complex healthcare systems. Graduates will be able to assume leadership roles in a wide range of settings, including acute, ambulatory and community-based care.

In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) proposed the current level of preparation for advanced nursing practice be increased from the master’s level to the doctoral level. Additionally, a recent “Future of Nursing” report from the Institute of Medicine and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation called for nursing leaders to achieve higher levels of education and be able to act as full partners in the redesign efforts of the health care system.

The program is part of a broader set of existing and newly approved graduates programs at Boise State University:

  • Existing master of science in nursing and master of nursing
  • New Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner Program that includes a master’s degree in
    adult-gerontology nursing and two new graduate certificates: adult-gerontology nurse
    practitioner and acute care, adult-gerontology nurse practitioner and primary care
  • A doctor of nursing practice

Boise State will continue to work closely with local hospitals and other health care providers, who partner with the university to offer clinical placements for students and faculty assistance. In addition to educating nurse leaders, the new doctorate will assure a strong pool of talented leaders that will benefit local health care organizations for many years to come.

“Boise State has an exceptional School of Nursing, and Saint Alphonsus has played an important role in the development of the program,” said Sally E. Jeffcoat, president and CEO of Saint Alphonsus Health System, in a letter of support for the new program. “It is important to us that we have a high quality local program that we can be part of developing and implementing.”

David C. Pate, president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System, agreed that the program will benefit the local healthcare community. “St. Luke’s Health System has a close relationship with Boise State and we are looking forward to partnering with Boise State in the development of these programs.”