Doctor Nurse or Nurse Doctor?

Christina Kelso

Photo by: Grace Singer

Jacksonville University’s Fall 2011 semester marks the beginning of a doctoral level program in the School of Nursing in the spirit of a nationwide movement.

Alongside each forward step in health care, a demand is ignited for highly trained professionals to practice within it. In modern, fast paced society, where the complexities of the human form have become increasingly unraveled, a high standard has been set within the hospital and educational landscape.

In recent years, enrollment in nursing doctoral degree programs has increased at a swifter pace than ever before. This is due to developments in healthcare technology and increasingly complex needs of patience. To meet these demands in the ever-changing health care environment, many advanced practicing nursing professionals, such as nurse practitioners, are now obtaining the expanded knowledge provided in pursuing the required doctoral degree.

This Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) will be the first doctorate degree offered in JU’s history. Taking the lead, the nursing program paves the way for the availability of more doctoral degrees and is expected to increase Jacksonville University’s reputation and standing in the academic world. Being the first program, it had to be strong, setting the foundation for those to follow.

In the near future, the school intends to take this leap with other programs, carefully selecting those of which that are ready with a strong foundation and offer a flourishing job market for graduates.

“We were so excited to have this program approved. We had a good base on which to build the doctoral program from and could never have done it without our excellent faculty” said Dr. Judith Erickson, Dean of the School of Nursing.

Taking the lead initiative in writing the curriculum for the program was Dr. Leigh Hart, a professor in the School of Nursing. She took on the responsibility of organizing and developing the courses to meet national standards.

Dr. Lois Becker, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs took on the intensive process, writing the successful proposal to become accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

This achievement was met with immense excitement amongst both students and faculty, said Erickson. Within the first month fourteen students applied. This first influx of students includes two of the nursing school’s own faculty, professors Tiffani Mickens and Mary Vanderhoef. Without stopping there, a notable wave of interest has also sparked amongst undergraduate nursing students.

“I think the new program is a wonderful opportunity for nurses, especially these days,” said junior Brian Giles.

While, the doctoral program is an important step forward for Jacksonville University it is even more significant in what the program says for nursing as a whole.