Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi received final approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to offer a new DNP program for registered nurses who have earned graduate degrees and are interested in expanding their skills as family nurse practitioners or nurse leaders.
The new online degree offered through the university’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences is the first of its kind south of San Antonio, according to a news release. University officials expect doctoral graduates to help alleviate the gap in healthcare professionals in rural areas.
Fall 2016 program start
The two-year program will begin in fall of 2016 with a group of 13 students who are credentialed as family nurse practitioners.
“We are extremely excited about the addition of the new doctoral program,” College of Nursing and Health Science Dean Mary Jane Hamilton, PhD, MS, RN, said in the release. “We have worked to gain approval for this innovative doctoral degree for almost five years because we believe our graduates will change the health of South Texas communities. Qualified DNP nurse practitioners could help ease the shortage of healthcare providers and serve as primary care providers in rural areas that may not have doctors.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges predicts that by 2025 the United States will face a shortage of between 46,000 and 90,000 physicians. South Texas counties also report a shortage of primary care clinicians, and are often categorized as medically underserved, Hamilton said in the release. That is especially critical as South Texas faces higher rates of several preventable diseases like diabetes and infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, listeriosis and dengue fever.
“The professional nurse most likely to enroll in this program is the individual striving to be an expert in practice and a leader in the community workforce, currently employed full-time, and interested in completing a degree through distance learning technology,” Eve Layman, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, associate dean of the college, said in the release.