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Department of Nursing Launches a New Doctoral Degree

July 28, 2014 – A new doctoral degree at the School of Nursing & Health Studies will help support the development of advanced nursing leaders in a variety of settings.

“The DNP [doctor of nursing practice program] is a clinical practice degree,” said Maureen Moriarty, the program’s director. “We’re taking nursing practice to the highest level and preparing our graduates for systems-level leadership.”

Preparing Leaders

Moriarty says the nursing field moved in this direction due to the massive increase in knowledge required for advanced practice nursing.

“The reason nursing went this route is that the body of knowledge you have to amass has gotten so much greater since master’s programs were introduced for advanced practice,” she said.

The ultimate aim, she said, is to produce a larger population of doctorally prepared clinical leaders within the country’s nursing workforce.

“The goal when you complete the degree is that you will have the skills to be a leader in a clinical setting, in an administrative setting, or in an educational setting,” she said.

A Clinical, Collaborative Degree

Moriarty received her doctor of nursing practice degree from Johns Hopkins University.

She said doctoral students in the NHS program could pinpoint an area for quality improvement, gather data and information, test a solution, and – if successful – implement it.

“Our research is all clinically driven,” Moriarty said. “They tend to be research projects versus a research study. Our research is tied to our own clinical area of expertise. Our students will benefit from the mentorship of our faculty throughout the research process.”

The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing helps guide the program, which is designed for post-master’s advanced practice nurses – nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists.

Values-Based Model, Location

Georgetown’s program, Moriarty noted, is collaborative in nature and will require students to interact with other disciplines, such as medicine, health care administration, policy and law, informatics and evaluation sciences.

Moriarty said the department’s values-based nursing model sets the DNP program apart from others.

“Something that we have that is unique to Georgetown is our values-based model,” she said. “We will ensure that our values are embedded throughout the curriculum, and all students will take a course in ethics and reflective leadership.”

Students also will have the opportunity to participate in the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt process and to pursue a policy focus.

“Our location in Washington, D.C., gives our students a lot of opportunities to work with people on Capitol Hill on policy issues,” she said.