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University of San Francisco Launches 1st Executive Leader DNP Program

In the wake of a recent Institute of Medicine report calling on nurses to “practice to the full extent of their education and training,” nurse executives wanting to advance their degrees have another option besides the traditional PhD.

The University of San Francisco is offering the nation’s first Executive Leader DNP program. An inaugural cohort of 19 nurse leaders began classes in January, and will graduate in December 2012. The program is geared toward master’s-prepared nurse executives wanting to achieve their doctoral degrees in nursing without getting PhDs, said KT Waxman, RN, CNL, MBA, DNP, assistant professor at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and president and CEO of Waxman & Associates LLC, a healthcare consulting company.

“This is for a nurse who doesn’t necessarily want to get his or her PhD and be a researcher,” Waxman said. “The DNP is specifically a practice doctorate, so this doctorate degree is perfect for nurse executives who want to broaden their thinking in a more strategic fashion. The DNP really focuses on a macro system. They’re going to take the research that’s out there and the evidence and apply it to practice.”

KT Waxman, RN

Although much of the work in the EL-DNP program is done online, the cohort meets in person seven times a year for two and a half days in San Francisco, Waxman said. Nurses enrolled in the program include nurse executives from California, Washington, Florida, Indiana and Wyoming.

The nurses hail from a variety of backgrounds and facilities, such as large medical centers, small rural hospitals and consulting firms. The university plans to accept a maximum of 20 students each spring, with no more than two cohorts attending school at one time, said Susan Prion, RN, EdD, DNP, DNP department chair.

“The EL-DNP program enhances our traditional DNP program,” she said. “It allows us to tailor the evidence-based practice academic experience to healthcare leaders and executives, as both have slightly different leaning needs. The twice per semester intensive format also allows us to attract nursing executives from around the country.”

Courses covered in the program include healthcare policy and ethics, financial management, strategic leadership innovation and entrepreneurship.

Among the requirements to achieve the EL-DNP are completing a DNP residency, writing a grant, writing a manuscript for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and being certified at the national level. “It’s designed for the working professional,” Waxman said. “We work very closely with them. It’s a real challenge for time management, so busy executives are able to figure it out and fit it in.”

Cost of the program is $72,000 and includes tuition, books, hotel stays and meals when the cohort meets in San Francisco. “It’s a pretty good deal,” Waxman said. “They get to come to San Francisco, and the hotel is near Union Square. They get to enjoy the city and bond together as a cohort.”

A majority of this year’s cohort is from California, Waxman said, but USF, which offered the first DNP program in the state in 2006, hopes to have a wider variety of geographically diverse nurse executives for the class of 2013.

Prion said the program provides an opportunity to have an impact on healthcare reform. “We also believe that the focus on micro systems at the master’s level and macro systems at the doctoral level provides a very effective organizing framework with which to improve patient outcomes,” Prion said. “The faculty of the school are educators, but are first and foremost nurses, and we chose to embody the mission of the university through our work in educating change agents for healthcare.”

For more information on the USF’s EL-DNP program, visit or email Waxman at [email protected]


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By | 2020-04-15T13:21:17-04:00 May 2nd, 2011|Categories: Regional, West|0 Comments

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