College of Nursing

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ECU nursing approved to offer doctor of nursing practice degree

Friday, February 08, 2013

East Carolina University College of Nursing received approval to offer a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program beginning fall 2013.

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors voted to approve the new program Friday morning. The degree is the highest level of clinical practice education for nurses. Doctor of nursing practice clinicians are experts in applying research findings to clinical practice and improving health care delivery systems.

The national move toward doctor of nursing practice programs is in response to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine calling for nurses to achieve higher education levels to meet changing healthcare needs.

East Carolina's doctor of nursing practice program coursework is 100% online, and clinical practice sites include primary care clinics, hospitals, and public health care agencies. Students are required to attend skills sessions at the College of Nursing several times a year.

"The emphasis on rural health, along with the advanced technology used for teaching in an online and virtual clinic environment, are unique features of our program," said Sylvia Brown, dean of the College of Nursing.

East Carolina University College of Nursing prepares the most advanced practice nurses in N.C. The college is nationally recognized as a leader in online graduate nursing education, and is ranked 10th by U.S. & World Report.

The initial DNP student cohort is for master's prepared advanced practice nurses. The program will be available to Registered Nurses with bachelor's degrees in fall 2014. Prospective students may contact Dr. Bobby Lowery (, director of DNP implementation, for application information.

Brown adds that the program supports the college's mission to serve as a leader in improving rural healthcare by preparing expert clinicians who will positively impact healthcare outcomes.

UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC-Greensboro and Winston-Salem State University also received approval for doctor of nursing practice programs. UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University received approval for a shared program. Currently, the only other North Carolina doctor of nursing practice programs are offered at Duke University and Gardner-Webb University, both private schools.