Amid a growing national shortage of primary-care providers and increased demand for health-care services under the Affordable Care Act, the next generation of advanced practice nurses at the University of Arizona College of Nursing pledged to become adept, caring clinicians who are part of the solution.
On March 7, more than 60 students in the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at the UA College of Nursing participated in the second annual White Coat Ceremony, marking their transition from pre-clinical coursework to advanced clinical practice.
“Advanced practice nurses are playing an ever-growing role in our health-care system, particularly for primary-care services, where we are facing a significant and growing provider shortage,” said Joan Shaver, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean of the UA College of Nursing. “Especially in rural and underserved areas, nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists provide much needed, high-quality care, often as the only health-care providers.”
During the ceremony, which was funded by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, doctoral students from 12 states were cloaked in their white coats by faculty and affirmed their commitment to providing compassionate, patient-centered care while reciting the Student Oath of Responsibility.
Lindsay Bouchard, MS, RN, who has worked as a registered nurse for the past five years, is one of more than 300 students in the DNP program pursuing advanced-practice specialties in nurse anesthesia, family, pediatric, adult-gerontology acute care or psychiatric mental health.
“I love the UA for many reasons,” said Bouchard, who is pursuing the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner specialty. “The faculty are so supportive and have such a wide range of expertise. There was really nowhere else that I was even considering. This was my number one choice and I’m so happy that I’m here.”
Beyond their initial education to become registered nurses, advanced practice nurses must complete a master's or doctoral degree program and have advanced clinical training. Through classroom and clinical learning, students gain the specialized knowledge and clinical competency necessary to practice in primary care, acute care and long-term health-care settings.
“In 2006, we opened our online Doctor of Nursing Practice program to provide broad access to those seeking a nursing practice doctorate,” said Terry A. Badger, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAAN, professor, division director and administrative leader of the DNP program. “Our graduates have the knowledge and skills to provide a wide variety of care, to lead health-care teams and to be the high-quality, cost-effective providers urgently needed now and for the future.”