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Commentary: Weber State’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program helps provide more health professionals to Utah

By Ann Rocha - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jul 1, 2023

Photo supplied, Weber State University

Ann Rocha

The numerous challenges nurses face in health care highlights the need for an education that equips them with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel. The Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing at Weber State University offers the Doctor of Nursing Practice program to prepare nurses to meet the complex health care needs of the nation. This program serves nursing students who are aiming to achieve the highest degree level and achieve leadership positions. The doctorate degree allows nurses to use reliable research to improve patient care and quality.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that the education of advanced practice registered nurses and individuals who hold top clinical positions be at the doctoral level.

Weber State’s program offers two emphasis areas: family nurse practitioner and executive leadership. The executive leadership path prepares students with a master’s degree to become expert nurse leaders to improve the quality of patient outcomes and care. Many graduates from this program take on leadership positions like chief nursing officers and public health policymakers.

The family nurse practitioner emphasis is designed for students with a bachelor of science in nursing. This path prepares graduates as both nurse leaders and clinical family nurse practitioners. Family nurse practitioners have a broad scope of practice, from educating on wellness and disease prevention to treating serious illnesses. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners says FNPs are primarily found in family, primary care and urgent care. However, FNPs can specialize in women, children and adult care. With additional certifications, some may open their own practice to treat people with chronic conditions. Additionally, the AANP says that FNPs earn a median annual income of $115,000, depending on location. We’re proud to see Weber State graduates from this path in almost every health care setting, both in Utah and beyond.

Although a doctor is primarily referred to as a medical doctor, it is a common title in many other health care professions. Nurses graduating from the DNP degree program are referred to as a doctor and use their credentials to inform others of their education and leadership abilities. Across the U.S., there are about 240 DNP programs, and more are developing to strengthen nurses’ skill sets and prepare them for leadership positions.

Weber State University implemented the DNP degree program in 2019. Since then, WSU has graduated four cohorts in DNP executive leadership and four cohorts in DNP family nurse practitioner. We accept new applications for these competitive programs in the spring of each year, and students begin in the fall semester.

All Weber State nursing graduate degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. To learn more about the graduate degree programs offered at WSU Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, visit the Weber State University website.

Ann Rocha, Ph.D., APRN, FNP-BC, is an associate professor at Weber State University’s Annie Taylor Dee School of Nursing, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.


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