Samuel Merritt University Adds a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program To its School of Nursing

Samuel Merritt University

Media Relations Contact:

Elizabeth Valente, SMU Media Director


Samuel Merritt University Adds a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program
To its School of Nursing

(Oakland, CA November 30, 2010) Starting in January, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) will offer a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree.

"The focus of the DNP degree is leadership. It's intended for nurses who want to enhance their ability to make effective changes in a variety of healthcare delivery settings, as well as those with a commitment to improving healthcare outcomes via evidence-based practice, policy change, and the application of research," said Scot Foster, PhD, SMU Academic Vice President and Provost. "This degree would be valuable for someone in nursing education, administration, or advanced practice."

The SMU DNP program is open to master's prepared registered nurses. It is a 36-credit online program designed to accommodate students who plan to continue to work in their practice setting while pursuing full-time doctoral study.

"It was an important next step for the University's School of Nursing to develop this program," says Cecily Cosby, PhD, Professor and Interim DNP Director. "The DNP is aligned with our mission and goals, it coincides with the urgent need for healthcare reform, and the Institute of Medicine's recommendation to maximally utilize the training and skills of nurses. It will allow us to better serve the community with nurses prepared for the challenges ahead."

"While PHD prepared nurse colleagues will continue to discover new knowledge through their research efforts, it is the DNP prepared nurses who will translate and apply that knowledge to implement the changes in both practice and policy that will ultimately improve outcomes", adds Dr. Cosby.

Increasingly, advanced practice nursing roles require doctoral degrees, according to recommendations from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). From 2008 to 2009, the number of students enrolled in DNP programs increased from 3,415 to 5,165.

"Employers are quickly recognizing the unique contribution these expert nurses are making in the practice arena, and the demand for DNP-prepared nurses continues to grow," says Dr. Cosby. According to the 2009 salary survey conducted by ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners magazine, the annual earning potential for DNP-prepared NPs is $7,688 more than master's-prepared NPs.

Also, as colleges and universities across California work to enroll and graduate more new nurses, the need for doctorally prepared practitioners and faculty is also growing. According to the National Academy of Science (2005), this need could be met with the new, non-research clinical doctorate.

"The curriculum and vision of these DNP programs will empower and challenge the next generation of leaders from nursing to break through all of the old expectations, limitations, constraints, and barriers," said Dr. Edward O'Neil, Director of the Center for Health Professionals, UCSF.

According to the 2010 AACN DNP Report, 120 DNP programs are currently enrolling students at schools of nursing nationwide, and an additional 161 DNP programs are in the planning stages. DNP programs are now available in 36 states. There are five DNP programs in California: Loma Linda University, University of San Diego, University of San Francisco, Western University of Health Sciences, and Samuel Merritt University.


Samuel Merritt University, located in Oakland, California, has been educating health science practitioners who are committed to making a positive difference in diverse communities since 1909. Nearly 1,400 students are enrolled at SMU, with campuses in Oakland, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Mateo. The University offers an undergraduate degree in nursing; master's degrees in nursing, occupational therapy, and physician assistant; and doctoral degrees in physical therapy and podiatric medicine. For more information visit

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