March 13, 2013
Contact Barb Gayle, vice
president for academic affairs, at 608-796-3080 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Bonnie Nesbitt, assistant dean, graduate nursing program,
at 608-796-3688 or email@example.com
VITERBO GRANTED APPROVAL TO OFFER FIRST DOCTORATE
PROGRAM: DOCTOR OF NURSING PRACTICE
CROSSE, Wis. –
The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges (HLC) has
granted Viterbo University approval to offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
degree beginning this fall.
Full accreditation followed a two-day campus visit last
November by an HLC team, which subsequently filed a report recommending
approval to begin the doctorate program.
The DNP is a clinical doctorate structured to provide
evidence-based care to meet regional health care needs.
“The accreditation visiting team that visited was
very positive and recommended approval without any conditions,” said Rick
Artman, president of Viterbo University. “The team’s members were highly impressed
with our new state-of-the-art nursing center and simulation labs, our research
capabilities, the curriculum, the quality of faculty who will be delivering
this program and the support from our board of trustees and regional health
According to Silvana Richardson, dean of the School
of Nursing, the four-year doctoral program will enroll students in its first
class this fall, with anticipation that the total number will eventually grow
“Prior to the official approval, the university
wasn’t permitted to publicize or recruit for the DNP but word that Viterbo was seeking
approval for the DNP prompted inquiries timely enough to assure fall
enrollment,” said Bonnie Nesbitt, assistant dean and director of the graduate
For Viterbo, the DNP allows the university to expand
its academic portfolio in nursing from the bachelor’s degree to the clinical
doctorate thus solidifying its role as a regional leader in this important
health care profession. Demand for the nurse practitioner with the advanced
level of clinical expertise is expected to grow significantly in the coming
decades as the population ages and the need to manage chronic health conditions
as well as emphasize health promotion and disease prevention increases.
“The program will be selective, Richardson said, “and
designed to attract highly qualified nurses interested in becoming leaders with
enhanced organizational skills to improve health outcomes as members of
inter-professional health care teams.”
The DNP is addressing the reality of today’s health care
environment, which is increasingly complex, requiring more nurses who are
educated at the highest professional level, Richardson said. The DNP graduates
will find employment in clinical and academic settings utilizing the latest evidence-based
Viterbo currently graduates more bachelor level
nurses than any other private college in Wisconsin. In all, nearly 780 students
are enrolled in nursing programs at the undergraduate and graduate level on the
Viterbo campus or at other sites throughout Wisconsin.
Richardson indicated the initiation of the DNP
symbolized the university’s commitment to providing aspiring nurses a complete
range of professional nursing programs from the bachelor to the doctoral level.
For Barb Gayle, vice president for academic affairs,
the announcement represents a historic step in the evolution of the university.
“Twenty-five years ago, Viterbo began offering its first graduate programs.
Now, in addition to our five master’s level programs, we have taken a huge
step, offering a doctorate to those who seek the highest level of educational
“This achievement deserves to be celebrated because
it represents a great deal of hard work and preparation on the part of many
people,” Gayle added.