Innovative BSN to DNP program starts at Norton Healthcare through UK

In a world of medical provider shortages and shifts in care delivery, an innovative program between Norton Healthcare in Louisville, Ky., and the University of Kentucky College of Nursing in Lexington,

Ky., is offering a solution.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN-to-DNP) option offered by the Norton Healthcare Institute for Nursing through the University of Kentucky College of Nursing allows nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing the opportunity to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and sit for certification as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), also called a nurse practitioner, in three years.

“As the nation’s first DNP option, we’re excited to take nursing development another step forward in training nurses to become an even more valuable part of the provider team,” said Patricia B. Howard, Ph.D., R.N., FAAN, professor and interim dean, University of Kentucky College of Nursing. “Norton Healthcare is extremely forward-thinking in working with us to offer nurses to train for an advanced degree and move into a progressive model of health care delivery.”

A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine urged the advancement of nurse education to assist with increased demand for health care services, specifically with primary care providers, that will come as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

With millions more patients expected to have access to health coverage through the ACA, the health care system needs to tap the capabilities of APRNs to meet the increased demand for primary care, according to a news release from the Institute of Medicine.

The Norton Healthcare program calls for 150 DNP-prepared APRNs to be added in the next few years to serve Norton Healthcare patients through new opportunities in its facilities and physician practices. Norton Healthcare consists of five Louisville hospitals with 1,837 licensed beds, seven outpatient centers and 116 Norton Medical Group and Norton Immediate Care Center locations.

“This program is part of our vision for nursing and is an important component for the National League for Nursing guidelines and our designation as a Center of Excellence in nursing education,” said Tracy E. Williams, DNP, R.N., senior vice president and system chief nursing officer at Norton Healthcare. “I know from experience that it can be very difficult for a nurse to go out on his or her own and attain this advanced degree. With this new program, Norton Healthcare will provide support to program participants through tuition assistance, mentors, clinical rotation within the system and classes offered on-site and online.”

The first cohort will begin studies in January 2014. Those who apply for the program must have a BSN and three years of service at Norton Healthcare. They will be selected through a rigorous interview process. Once selected, they will need to work full time at a Norton Healthcare location while attending school full time.

“In an ever-changing world of health care, there is a shortage of providers to deliver care to patients,” said Kim Tharp-Barrie, DNP, R.N., SANE, system vice president, Norton Healthcare Institute for Nursing and Outreach. “Providers with a DNP will be able to help support our physicians and provide extended care to patients.

“At Norton Healthcare, we have a strong commitment to helping nurses attain professional development.”


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