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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has a new option for nursing students looking to further their education: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

The DNP degree complements but differs from the existing Ph.D. in nursing in that it is clinically-focused rather than research-focused. It is now the terminal degree for advanced practice nurses including clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists and nurse midwives.

Applications are now being accepted for classes beginning in January 2011. The program will admit those who already have a master’s of science in nursing for the inaugural class. The deadline to apply is Oct. 1, 2010.

The DNP program elevates advanced practice nursing to a level comparable with that of other health professionals prepared at the practice doctoral level. The full-time program is designed for licensed nurses with a master’s degree who wish to pursue a clinical doctoral degree in nursing.

This program aligns UT with anticipated changes in accreditation. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the national accrediting body for colleges of nursing, will require that the educational preparation of advanced practice nurses be set at the doctoral level beginning in 2015.

“The initiation of this program now allows our graduates to be prepared at the highest level of clinical expertise and leadership capabilities well in advance of this new requirement,” DNP Program Chair Peggy Pierce said, adding that the Ph.D. will continue at UT Knoxville as a research-focused degree.

The goal of the DNP program is to prepare expert clinicians who will provide advanced nursing care in a variety of settings, be leaders in improving the health care system, and educate future nurses.

The DNP program will help increase the number of doctorate degrees granted by the university, which is one of UT Knoxville’s goals in its quest to become a top 25 public research university.

The program will be primarily online, requiring minimal on-campus time each semester. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission gave final approval last week for the clinically-based doctoral program.

For more information about the DNP and how to apply, visit http://www.nursing.utk.edu/.

C O N T A C T :

Peggy Pierce, DNP program chair, (865-974-7630, ppierce@utk.edu)

Kristi Hintz, Office of Media Relations, (865-974-3993, khintz@utk.edu)