The University of San Francisco: School of Nursing

The Bridge - USF School of Nursing and Health Professions Newsletter

The Bridge - USF School of Nursing Newsletter 
Summer 2011 - Vol VI Issue 1

Earn an Executive Leader Doctor of Nursing Degree

This spring the School of Nursing and Health Professions launched the first Executive Leader Doctor of Nursing (ELDNP) program in the nation, opening the door for practicing nurses to acquire extensive expertise in evidence-based practices, information technology, financial management, innovation and entrepreneurship, and other arenas.

The move couldn’t be better timed as the health care industry strives to refashion itself to deliver better care for a more affordable price. The ELDNP, with its specialty in executive management, joins USF’s other pioneering doctoral-level nursing degree programs, the DNP for family nurse practitioners and the DNP for health care systems leaders.

“The more doctoral educated nurses there are the more possibility we can fundamentally change healthcare outcomes based on research supported evidence rather than traditional practices,” said Susan Prion, associate professor of nursing and chair of USF’s DNP program.

The DNP isn’t a research PhD, rather it’s a practice doctorate designed to prepare experts in specialized nursing, including the care of individual patients, the management of care for particular patient populations, the administration of nursing and healthcare organizations, and the development and implementation of health policy.

Included in the program’s curriculum are courses on risk management, labor relations, ethics, information technology, advanced financial management, and innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The program includes integrative practice experiences and an intense practice immersion experience,” Prion said. “And it culminates with a practice application of a DNP project based in evidence rather than a knowledge-generating research effort.”

One of the most valuable lessons Lisa Gifford, DNP ’09, took away from her DNP experience was how to integrate complex adaptive systems into health care – an approach that aims to break down the hierarchical walls that are common in some facilities between physicians and nurses or between surgical and emergency care units, among others. By using adaptive systems, health care providers work as a team to provide the best care with a more holistic approach, including reducing medication errors, falls, and infections, said Gifford, who has worked as an administrator of hospice care centers in the Bay Area for two decades.

“For me, the DNP just made sense,” Gifford said. “It’s one of the most intelligent things that American nursing has done in the past 50 years, because it bridges the gap between PhD research and clinical practice.”

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