School of Nursing to offer online doctorate of nursing starting fall 2020

Marshall University’s School of Nursing will offer an online doctorate of nursing program beginning in fall 2020. The DNP will accept 25 students for the first year and 25 more students each additional year. Professor Rebecca Appleton, director of the master’s of science in nursing program, said she began working on creating the DNP program in 2016, and President Jerry Gilbert recently approved it.

“It is the terminal degree for most nurses; it’s usually the end of the line in terms of what you have to do for education for a nurse,” Appleton said. “Students won’t have to travel, they won’t have to go to Kentucky or to Morgantown. This program will be online. It will take approximately three to four years, depending on whether they’re part time or full time. The cost is very reasonable in terms of what currently is out there; we’re very in line with WVU in terms of tuition. We’re going to hire a director this year, and we’re hoping that we will be able to start taking students in the fall of 2020.”

The DNP program will offer classes with specific focuses, such as epidemiology, Appleton said, and students will complete an evidence based project. 

“It has some interesting focuses, we’re going to focus on epidemiology,” Appleton said. “It’s basically figuring out why diseases are occurring, the cause of diseases and we’re going to focus on that because that seems to be an interest for people in this area. Most of the coursework is theoretical. There is some work that they will do with preceptors, which they will determine who they want to work with. And looking at something that they are very interested in, they choose an area and they develop an evidence based problem and do a project. It’s based on research, we look at research and what the evidence shows us the best ways to help people heal. And that’s how we’re basing our nursing practice nowadays is on research evidence.”

Appleton said after completing the DNP program, nurses will have multiple positive job opportunities, such as hospitalists, working directly with doctors or specializing in specific fields.

“There’s all kinds of job openings,” Appleton said. “These nurses will actually work hand in hand with other physicians; they can be hospitalists, they can work in clinics, they can work on their own. They can work independently in West Virginia so they can set up their own clinic and work in it. They can work almost anywhere really. And they make good money, somewhere around a six-figure salary. They can teach too, they can be administrators. They can teach, they can do almost anything. They’re just a higher-level nurse. They can specialize in any of the things that physicians specialize in.”

Marshall’s School of Nursing also offers bachelor’s and master’s programs, and Appleton said they are both credited, with high certification rates. 

“The NCLEX certification rate for the BSN students in 2018 was 98 percent for Marshall, and the Family Nurse Practitioner passing rate on ANCC certification exam was 100 percent in 2018. There are very few programs who ever manage to do that, and we’re usually right up there, if we’re not at 100 we’re near that,” Appleton said. “Our undergraduate and graduate students do very well at Marshall. People in this area really look forward to having our graduates because they’re so good compared to some of the others in the area.

“This program is actually going to help our undergraduate and graduate programs because our graduate school then hopefully go on to the DNP, those people who want to can go on and get their DNP here,” Appleton said. 

Amanda Larch can be contacted at [email protected].