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PLU Welcomes Doctor of Nursing Practice Cohort as First Doctoral Program

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A PLU Nurse Practitioner student works during a health-outreach activity at the Sumner Senior Center. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

Image: A PLU Nurse Practitioner student works during a health-outreach activity at the Sumner Senior Center. (Photo: John Froschauer/PLU)

May 3, 2016
By PLU Marketing & Communications

TACOMA, WASH. (May 27, 2015)—Pacific Lutheran University welcomes its first Doctor of Nursing Practice cohort to class orientation on May 28.

The DNP, which prepares graduates in the advanced-practice specialty area of Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), already has been ranked as one of the top 100 graduate nursing programs in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

“The DNP program is the first doctoral program at Pacific Lutheran University,” said Teri Woo, PLU Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate Nursing Programs. “The DNP degree will prepare nurses to be leaders in the current complex healthcare environment. We offer DNP tracks for nurses who want to become FNPs and for those who are already advanced-practice nurses who want to earn the DNP degree as a post-Master’s student.”

The new cohort of 15 students comes to PLU with degrees from institutions ranging from Texas Tech and James Madison University to Hawaii Pacific and, of course, PLU, Woo said.

There is a well-documented shortage of primary-care providers in the United States, with Pierce and Mason counties, and others across Washington, designated as “medically underserved.” A recent brief from the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, titled “Nurse Practitioners to Meet Rising Demand for Primary Care,” also noted that demand for Nurse Practitioners is set to increase to alleviate healthcare shortages.

The PLU FNP program, then, is designed to meet the demand for additional primary-care providers in the region and state. The program qualifies students to sit for national certification examinations for Family Nurse Practitioner, making them eligible under Washington State law for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) licensure. In the State of Washington, ARNPs have independent practice and prescribing authority.

About the 2015 DNP Cohort

  • Total enrollment: 15 (13 women and 2 men).
  • Average GPA: 3.54.
  • Average age: 37.3 (students range from 28 to 55).
  • 9 students with a BSN are starting in the BSN to DNP track—all are in the Family Nurse Practitioner program.
  • 6 students with an MSN are in the MSN to DNP track—all are Master’s-prepared nurses who are returning to become Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP).
  • 1 of the MSN to DNP students is already an FNP (2014, PLU) who is returning to earn her DNP degree.