NMU, OU Offer Nursing Doctorate

Northern and Oakland University have received a $950,000 grant from the State of Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth to jointly offer a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree, beginning fall 2007. The one-year accelerated program, one of only 19 in the United States, will address a critical need in Michigan and the nation for nursing faculty members.

Pictured together at NMU Sept. 11 are: (front row) NMU President Les Wong and Linda Thompson Adams, OU dean of nursing'; and (top row from left) Kerri Schuiling (Nursing); Frances Jackson, OU director of the DNP program; and Jeanette Klemczk, Michigan’s chief nurse executive.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) estimated that as many as 30,000 qualified nursing school applications were denied access to U.S. nursing programs in 2004-05 due to nursing faculty shortages.

“I think state policymakers see this as a great example of how universities can join together to be highly efficient in meeting a critical state and university need," said Jean Klemczak, Michigan’s chief nurse executive, who was on campus earlier this week to meet with students, faculty and both NMU and OU administrators. "I am delighted that the development of this program is under way."

Oakland will be the degree-granting institution, but NMU nursing faculty members are helping to develop the cooperative program and will teach several courses. Additionally, 10 of the cohort’s 20 spots are slated for Upper Peninsula students.

“This was a great opportunity for two universities with strong nursing programs to come together to work as a team in a way that helps our students, communities, the state and both nursing programs,” said Linda Thompson Adams, OU dean of nursing.

Part of the funding for the OU-NMU program includes scholarships to cover tuition as well as student stipends.

“Paid tuition and a stipend are tremendous incentives to get currently employed nurses with an interest in teaching to consider earning a doctoral degree,” said Kerri Schuiling (Nursing). “Most nursing programs have a significant number of faculty members that are not far from retirement. We need to be educating our replacements now.

“The program is for nurses focused or having specialty certification in a practice area. It enables nurses with a focus in a practice area to attain the terminal degree for practice, which in turn, makes them attractive candidates to university programs. So being a nursing educator is not a requirement of the program.”

One aspect of the program that most excites NMU and OU administrators and faculty is the opportunity it provides their respective students to learn more about various geographical healthcare issues.

“With this program, we’re blending our faculty and our students so that those who are teaching and learning in an urban environment will be introduced to rural healthcare issues and vice versa," said OU's Frances Jackson, who will serve as director of the program. "The students will then be the ones who will go on to teach our future undergraduate and graduate nursing students and they will be able to bring a better understanding of rural and urban nursing issues and needs to their classrooms. That’s exciting,”

NMU has offered joint doctoral programs with other universities periodically in the past, but this will be its first doctoral program that NMU faculty members have played a major role in developing and teaching.


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Updated: September 11, 2006

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