MBU Launches Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Mary Baldwin University announced today its plans to enroll students in a new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program in its Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences (MDCHS) starting in August 2021. Students will pursue specialization as either a Family Nurse Practitioner or Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, both of which are needed to help fill national healthcare needs.

“As demand for primary care physicians outpaces the supply, there is wide agreement that doctorally prepared advanced practice nurses are essential to solving the physician shortage and increasing access to healthcare both nationally and right here in the Shenandoah Valley,” said Pamela R. Fox, president of Mary Baldwin University. “The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences was founded in 2014 to help enhance access to quality healthcare and the DNP is a natural extension of this mission.”

The Doctor of Nursing Practice is one of two terminal degrees in nursing, but it is the only one focused on practice-based training and translational research. Most DNP graduates pursue careers as nurse practitioners in clinical settings such as family medical practices or acute care facilities (hospitals, rehabilitation centers, etc.), or as healthcare executives. The DNP is currently not required to become a nurse practitioner, but the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that all nurse practitioners hold a DNP by 2025. MBU will offer a special DNP track for nurse practitioners who already hold a Master of Science in Nursing to help them meet this goal.

MBU’s DNP will be delivered in a unique hybrid format – the only one of its kind in Virginia – providing students the convenience of online study paired with up to three visits to campus each year for intensive clinical instruction. With its more than 600 hospital and health system affiliation agreements, MBU also is well-positioned to help secure clinical placements for its DNP students, a requirement of the degree. 

An interprofessional approach to learning will be another distinctive hallmark of the MBU DNP. Mirroring the experience of working in complex healthcare settings where nurses are expected to collaborate with doctors, fellow nurses, therapists, and others, the curriculum will emphasize this collaboration with instruction by professionals representing a variety of healthcare disciplines.

“The hybrid nature of our DNP program ensures that it is accessible to working nurses without sacrificing the value of in-person, hands-on instruction,” said Deborah Greubel, DNP, MBU’s chief health officer and vice president of Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences. “As an advanced practice nurse myself, the importance of an interprofessional approach to educating healthcare leaders cannot be overstated. We routinely hear from our graduates that they are better prepared for the workplace because they have been trained in this collaborative mindset.” 

MBU launches its DNP at a time when career prospects for advanced practice nurses are extraordinarily strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be an average of 24,200 job openings for nurse practitioners each year through 2029 and notes that advanced practice nurses “will be in high demand, particularly in medically underserved areas such as inner cities and rural areas.” The median annual wage for nurse practitioners was $109,820 in May 2019, according to the bureau. Nurse practitioner also earned top spots in three recent job rankings from US News: No. 3 on 100 Best Jobs; No. 2 on Best Healthcare Jobs; and No. 3 on Best STEM Jobs.

The DNP will be the third doctoral program in the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, joining the Doctor of Occupational Therapy and the Doctor of Physical Therapy. It will be one of two nursing degrees offered: MBU established an online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2015. 

Applications for the inaugural DNP class are currently being accepted through NursingCAS. Applicants must hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master of Science in Nursing and an unrestricted RN license, among other criteria. MBU expects the program to be approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in June. To promote the new program, the university has launched a national digital advertising campaign with the theme “In Nurses We Trust.”

To learn more, visit marybaldwin.edu/dnp.