Lee University will open its "second century" with the historic opening of its first doctoral program, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, it was announced Wednesday by president Paul Conn.
Dr. Conn was joined in the announcement by Vice President Debbie Murray and Sara Campbell, dean of the School of Nursing. “We have received approval from the Southern Association Commission on Colleges and initial approval from the Tennessee Board of Nursing to take this important step,” Dr. Campbell said.
"This degree offering is a perfect way for Lee University to kick off our second hundred years," Dr. Conn said. The school has recently concluded a year-long celebration of its Centennial year, since it was founded in Cleveland in 1918. "We have considered offering doctorates in other areas in the past few years, and believe we are now in a good position to design doctoral programs in areas like education, religion, and music.
"The rapid growth and excellence of our School of Nursing makes it the first doctoral program which is ready to go." The program will begin teaching its first class of admitted students on Jan. 7, 2019.
The DNP can serve as a doctoral program for those nurses already possessing an advanced practice nursing certification or for those nurses in need of an APN program along with the doctoral degree. Students may enter the program with the baccalaureate or master’s degree in nursing, according to Dr. Campbell. There are multiple specialty tracks that can be under the umbrella of a DNP program. The first specialty track that Lee will offer is the Family Nurse Practitioner.
Dr. Campbell said, "We are ready to offer a doctoral program in nursing that will reflect a standard of excellence and uniqueness, similar to our BSN program. Students in this region and across the nation are seeking doctoral programs that are flexible, but which are also relational and of high quality. We are confident that we will be that kind of program."
The Lee School of Nursing first admitted students in 2014 and has rapidly gained recognition as a "state-of-the-art" program, said Dr. Conn. Its first three classes of graduates all achieved 100 percent pass rates in their first try on the national nursing exam (the NCLEX), and dozens of them are already working in hospitals in the area, including Erlanger, Tennova, CHI Memorial, Parkridge, Vanderbilt Medical Center, and numerous other health-care providers. The Lee undergraduate program has achieved full accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
"When we first opened our new School of Nursing building in 2016," Dr. Conn said, "it seemed very big for a start-up program, but we anticipated high demand for our program, and for our graduates as they finished. In both cases, our positive expectations have been exceeded by the rapid growth, in size and reputation, of the School of Nursing." The Lee program now teaches almost 400 nursing majors, and is nearing its full interior build-out of faculty space in its building. The facility features large simulation teaching labs and a multi-million-dollar array of equipment and furnishings.
The DNP program is designed to prepare graduates at the highest level of nursing practice, addressing the growing complexity of patient care and health care delivery. The uniquely structured program features innovative experiences such as use of telehealth robots, focus on rural and global populations, and leading disaster response as a healthcare provider. The DNP was designed in contrast to the PhD nursing programs which are traditionally research intensive.
For more information about the program or to apply, visit http://www.leeuniversity.edu/dnp/.