Fifth anniversary of the DNP program

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Radford University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program celebrated its fifth anniversary on September 1st. The program allowed its first group of students in August 2010. At that time 32 students were enrolled.


The program now has almost 50 nurses that are striving to get a degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Executive Leadership. Starting next August another concentration will be added to the program, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.


The main reason for the growth is simple. Virginia Burggraf, Graduate Coordinator for the School of Nursing, says. “Our mission is outreach to the community. The area needs more health care providers and we are meeting that need.”


Many places require nurses to have a DNP to enter into their career. This program provides a way for registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing science (BSN), a master’s degree (MS), or a master’s degree in nursing science (MSN) for advanced nursing practice to continue their growth and compete with others in their field.


The courses are practice oriented requiring up to 1,080 practice hours as well as 30-81 credit hours. After finishing the program, students are required to take a national board certification test, which Radford graduates have a 100% on.


“What the DNP gives the student, is the opportunity to translate research into practice.” Burggraf said.


The program also teaches student how to see people as more than just their illness. “We have a more holistic approach. We combine both the technical knowledge along with the interest of the person.” Laura LaRue, assistant professor and coordinator of the FNP concentration, said.  “In other words you’re not just someone with gallbladder disease there’s a human being with that gallbladder.”


The success of the program has resulted in a positive portrayal of Radford University. According to LaRue, “It helps Radford University because it provides a presence.”


The graduates from this program have been successful in their careers while carrying the fact that they were Radford University graduates. Many of them have went on to becoming the top nurses in their hospitals.


While members of the program are proud of the growth and success so far, they don’t see another concentration being added any time soon.


If another concentration was added, it would have to be something that the New River Valley community was in need of. Currently that need would be an Adult – Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. The New River Valley, as well as other rural areas, has a large population of the elderly.


No talks have begun about adding this concentration though as they are still getting ready for the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration to begin next Fall.


With the growth of the program, Radford University strives to keep the pass rate to 100% and to teach each individual the skills they need to be successful.