RU DNP program marks five-year anniversary

As it celebrates its fifth anniversary, Radford University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has secured a place at the forefront of nursing education.

On Sept. 2, the program will welcome its sixth cohort with an orientation program for 17 advanced practice health care professionals aspiring to the terminal degree for practicing nurses.  In its first five years, 44 graduates have achieved the top level of education available to nursing professionals, including five in May 2015.

Almost 50 working nurses are now in the doctoral program that ends with a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Nurse Executive Leadership degree.  The program will add a third designation in August 2016 when the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program is introduced. 

RU DNP candidate in action

In its first five years, the RU DNP program has enabled 44 graduates to achieve the top level of education available to nursing professionals.

“The program’s growth shows how nursing is evolving into a leadership trajectory by which nursing professionals advance health care in the community, Commonwealth of Virginia and United States,” said Virginia Burgraff, graduate program director for the School of Nursing and the Marcella J. Griggs Distinguished Professor in Gerontological Nursing.

Targeted at registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing science (BSN), a master’s degree (MS), or a master’s degree in nursing science (MSN) for advanced nursing practice, the rigorous practice-oriented or professional terminal degree program prepares working nurses with between 30 and 81 credit hours of online instruction.  It further requires up to 1,080 clinical practice hours and a capstone project.  Graduates of the program then take one of two national board certification tests on which Radford graduates have a 100 percent pass rate.

Laura LaRue, assistant professor and coordinator of the FNP concentration, has been with the program since its inception. About the role such advanced education plays in preparing a critical member of the modern health care team, she said,  “These are experienced professionals who are responding to the rapidly changing health care environment by expanding their skills and abilities to integrate the latest evidence-based knowledge in their treatment of the whole patient.”

RU DNP candidates in action

Graduates of the RU DNP program have a 100 percent pass rate on the national board certification tests.

David Mercer DNP ‘15 is director of the Department of Wound, Ostomy and Continence for the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville. He said the program enabled him “to branch out and network anew” and added, “I loved the program and can’t speak enough about how positive it was . . . all at my pace and all supported through levels of compassion.”

Marjorie Young, DNP ‘15, is the director of Women’s Health Services at Lewis Gale Hospital Montgomery and she will soon join the SON faculty, which includes five Radford DNP graduates.

“I liken RU’s DNP program as building a magnificent home. Each class, brick by brick, built a solid foundation on which to fashion a strong advanced practice career,” Young said.  “The faculty supported creative, individualized programs of study to allow an innovative track of education and practice.”

The DNP program enrolled its first cohort of 32 students in August 2010.   Kimberly Hall, DeEtta Compton and Arneda Lyons completed work for their D.N.P. degrees in 2012 and were the first students to earn Radford University doctoral degrees.

“The DNP program highlights the range of expertise in the School of Nursing (SON),” said Tony Ramsey, SON director.  “I would say that the graduates have opened the community’s eyes to the importance of doctorally-prepared nurses to successful modern health care.”

For more information on the program, click here.

Aug 5, 2015