First doctoral program at CBU to take place for School of Nursing in fall 2015

With the introduction of the Doctorate of Nursing Practice program, California Baptist University is set to begin the first doctoral program in the fall of 2015.

Changing national mandates are a part of what encouraged the start of the program, as well as a growing number of students in the master’s program.

The addition of a nursing doctoral program could also have an impact on individual health outcomes in Riverside County.

“To be able to change health outcomes for our county is going to be exciting,” said Dr. Lisa Bursch, acting director of the DNP. “To be able to be a part of that is amazing.”

Bursch and Dr. Rebecca Meyer, director of the Master of Science in Nursing program, co-wrote the proposal for the DNP program based on the recommendations made by a doctoral committee.

The first doctoral program is a two-year program designed to help students with systems leadership.

Students interested in stepping into a leadership role in a hospital organization or clinical setting will take courses such as organization theory and health policy to help them reach goals that will impact individual health outcomes with system-wide changes.

“A little bit that sets us aside from other DNP programs is that our students are going to start their (class) project their very first semester,”

Bursch said. “As they’re moving through their coursework, they are learning specific parts of their project. They’re implementing what they’ve learned in those courses and putting it toward their project.”

Bursch said they are targeting 20 students from CBU and the surrounding community for the program in the fall.

A need for doctoral practitioners has been growing both in the county and the nation, which Bursch said led CBU to begin working on its doctoral program.

“Research has shown that the higher education level of nurses, the higher the patient outcomes,” Bursch said. “Our health outcomes in the U.S. aren’t equal to the money we spend. A lot of it came back to education.”

By this year, advanced practice nurses, nurse practitioners, clinical specialists, nurse mid-wives and nurse anesthetists are recommended to be at the doctoral level.

Bursch said by 2020, however, that recommendation will change to a national mandate for nurse anesthetists.

“The idea is that when one is going to be mandated, the others will follow very closely behind,” Bursch said.

The first cohort of nursing students for the bachelor’s program, composed of 40 students, began in 2007. A master’s program has been added, and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education have accredited both programs.

In July 2014, WASC gave the proposal for a doctoral program preliminary approval.

Delegates from WASC completed a site visit in September, and in November gave CBU the approval to begin the doctoral program.

“We want to know that we have that vigor behind the pro- gram, and that’s what we have when we have that accreditation,” Bursch said. “Students will know that their degree means something.”

Some students in the beginning stages of the bachelor’s program are planning on continuing into the later stages of the nursing program to accomplish their goals.

“Right now, I just want to finish my bachelor’s,” said Paola Valenzuela, third semester nursing student. “Then after that, maybe. I’ve met people who right away, after they graduate, have a job at a hospital. They’re going for their master’s already and they’ve barely graduated.”

Other students are planning on going into the nursing field before continuing on to graduate work.

“I’m just finishing semester by semester and getting my bachelor’s,” said Annel Vasquez, third semester nursing student. “I’m probably going to (obtain a) master’s after a year of working. It’s a lot.”

To celebrate the beginning of the DNP program, the School of Nursing held an open house Feb. 19.

An overview of the program was introduced, including a tour of the new Nursing Annex with the Sim-Clinic and Sim-Studio.

About Bekka Wiedenmeyer

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