University introduces Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program

The Department of Nursing at Misericordia University is introducing the online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program for the fall semester – the third doctoral program at the University – to accommodate the needs of busy health care professionals and in response to growing national need.

The 27-credit part-time MSN to DNP track can be completed in two calendar years while attending the fall, spring and summer over six semesters. An optional nine-credit specialization in nursing education – the only DNP program offering this specialization in northeastern Pennsylvania – is also available for advanced practice nurses who wish to become educators on the collegiate level. Nationally board certified and licensed advanced practice nurses, including certified registered nurse practitioners (CRNPs), certified nurse midwives (CNMs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and certified clinical nurse specialists (CNSs), are eligible to apply for the MSN to DNP program.
For further information about the DNP degree program at Misericordia University, please contact Maureen Sheridan in the Center for Adult and Continuing Education at (570) 674-6451 or e-mail her at
The DNP program is being offered in two tracks. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) track, which is slated to begin with the 2015 fall semester, features 64 credits that can be completed while attending classes in three years over nine semesters, including summers. Graduates of the program will be awarded with both the Master of Science degree in nursing and the DNP degree. Graduates are eligible to sit for the national family nurse practitioner board certification examination.
“The DNP program is being introduced at Misericordia in response to the growing need for advanced practice nurse clinicians prepared at the doctoral level,’’ said Brenda Hage, Ph.D., D.N.P., C.R.N.P., professor and director of Graduate Nursing Programs at Misericordia University. “The Institute of Medicine, in concert with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), has a preferred recommendation and vision that by 2015 all advanced practice nurses should be educated at the doctoral level.’’
Dr. Hage is dually doctorally prepared with both Ph.D. and D.N.P. degrees. She will serve as the DNP program director.
The Institute of Medicine, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and other authorities seek to re-conceptualize education standards for health care professionals to meet the growing needs of the increasingly complex national health care system, including the implementation of the Affordable Care Act that is expected to result in the introduction of many new patients into the system.
The Misericordia University DNP program is a practice-focused doctoral degree that educates nurses to become expert clinicians, leaders in health policy, and catalysts for improved health care delivery within an inter-professional environment. The curriculum consists of didactic and clinical course work structured around the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Didactic and clinical course work in this cutting-edge curriculum culminates in the completion of an evidence-based practice clinical capstone project. A residency experience is not required to complete the program.
Misericordia University features the oldest nursing program in the area and graduates more students in the health sciences than any other college or university in northeastern Pennsylvania. The University offers three undergraduate nursing programs: traditional, full-time nursing students; part-time accelerated evening program for adult students; and the RN-to-BSN Expressway Program. The undergraduate nursing programs are designed to meet the special educational and scheduling needs of adult and traditional students, leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
The MSN nursing program is designed to meet the special needs of current BSN registered nurses who desire an advanced practice specialization as a family nurse practitioner. MU also offers a post-master’s certificate as a family nurse practitioner for nurses who already have an advanced clinical master’s degree and who wish to change or expand their practice focus to primary care. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education in health assessment, diagnosis and management of acute and chronic health conditions with expertise in health promotion and disease prevention. Graduate programming leads to the MSN and provides course work in a convenient part-time, one-day-a-week format.
Nursing students at Misericordia can successfully complete the three individual programs – BSN, MSN and DNP – by taking a blend of traditional classroom and online courses.
The nursing program recently had its continuing accreditation extended for the maximum of 10 years to March 2023 by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
Undergraduate and graduate nursing students have also been successful in passing their national licensure examinations. Most recently, baccalaureate degree nursing students who graduated from the Bachelor of Science degree program during the past year achieved a pass rate that was 16 percentage points higher than the national average for pass rates on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
MU’s BSN graduates achieved a 98.08-percent pass rate for first-time test-takers who took the NCLEX-RN examination between Oct. 1, 2012 and Sept. 30, 2013. Misericordia graduates exceeded both the average national pass rate of 82.07 percent and the average pass rate in Pennsylvania of 85.31 for baccalaureate degree programs. It marks the third year in a row that the nursing program’s pass rates surpassed the state and national averages. 
In addition, the May 2013 graduate degree nursing students in the Misericordia University Nurse Practitioner Program also recently received a 100-percent pass rate on the American Academy of Nurse Practitioner Examination. The family nurse practitioner program continues to provide high quality primary care nurse practitioners to local health care systems.