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RU Gains SCHEV Approval to Offer Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

RADFORD –The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) on Tuesday unanimously approved the university’s proposal for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, marking the third time in a one-year period RU has received SCHEV approval for a graduate-level program.

“This shows the level of faith that SCHEV and the Commonwealth of Virginia have in RU’s ability to produce quality graduate programs,” said Raymond Linville, dean of RU’s Waldron College of Health and Human Services. “This program will put more nurses out on the front lines who possess the highest level of clinical education. This is a win-win situation.”

Provost Wil Stanton said, “Radford University has made another great stride toward meeting the vision laid out in its 7-17 strategic plan: to be among the top 50 masters institutions in the nation."

According to Linville, RU’s DNP program is uniquely situated: it will be the first program of its kind to offer a doctoral degree to post-baccalaureate and post-masters degree nursing students.

“This move to the doctoral level education is in alignment with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing position statement to prepare advanced practice nurses at the highest clinical level by 2015,” explained Kathy LaSala, director of RU’s School of Nursing. “This is an opportunity for graduates of RU’s School of Nursing to continue to meet the highest clinical education needs for nurses and help meet the critical healthcare needs of the community.”

The first admitted students to the DNP program, which will be offered in an online distance-learning format, are scheduled to begin classes in the fall of 2010. It is anticipated that the program will enroll 25 students in its first year and employ two faculty members and one administrative professional that specializes in computer distance learning.

“The increasing complexity of therapies and technology, coupled with improved patient safety and focus on clinical outcomes, necessitate that the healthcare team have a wide range of talent and expertise steeped in knowledge,” said Nancy Agee, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Carilion Clinic and a member of RU’s Board of Visitors. “RU’s DNP program is integral to advancing the nursing profession as a key member of the healthcare team. RU is taking another important step in furthering its reputation as a university for higher level learning needed in the 21st century.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts about 233,000 additional jobs will open for registered nurses each year through 2016, on top of about 2.5 million existing positions. But only about 200,000 candidates passed the Registered Nurse licensing exam last year, and thousands of nurses leave the profession each year.

The DNP degree is RU’s third doctoral degree program. It joins the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) degree in Counseling Psychology, which admitted its first class of students in the fall of 2008, and the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which received this fall $500,000 from Roanoke-based Medical Facilities of America to fund RU’s first endowed chair and $100,000 from Pennsylvania-based Genesis Rehab Services to create a laboratory at RU dedicated to motion analysis, an integral focus in the study of physical therapy.

The DPT program is currently in the process of searching for a departmental chair and director of clinical education. Once hired, RU will seek accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education of the American Physical Therapy Association. The program will submit an Application for Candidacy, which is the formal application required in the pre-accreditation stage. Submission of this document does not assure that the program will be granted Candidate for Accreditation status nor does it assure that the program will be granted accreditation.

Another program, Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT), has hired a founding chair and director of clinical education and is currently in the process of applying for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

Jan. 8, 2009
Contact: Mindy Buchanan-King (mlbuchana@radford.edu; 540-831-7764)

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