UH Board of Regents grants permanent status to UH Hilo Doctor of Nursing Practice program

The program began at UH Hilo in 2012 and provides training for students to become family nurse practitioners—FNPs are considered primary care providers with global prescriptive authority.

Cohort in lab coats
Members of the first cohort of UH Hilo doctor of nursing students. Courtesy photo.

The Board of Regents at the University of Hawai‘i has granted permanent status to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program at UH Hilo. The action changes the program’s status from provisional to established.

“The BOR’s decision validates the outstanding quality of the DNP, along with the efforts of our nursing faculty and staff who have worked hard to develop and administer this important program,” says Alice Davis, director of the School of Nursing. “Our DNP graduates are going to be a tremendous part of the health care workforce in Hawai‘i, and can help address the nursing faculty shortage unfolding across the country.”

The doctor of nursing practice is a terminal degree in nursing. The program began at UH Hilo in 2012 and provides training for students to become family nurse practitioners—FNPs are considered primary care providers with global prescriptive authority.

The program also has a leadership track for those interested in this area of practice. The program objective is to provide nurses with doctoral-level education focusing on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion and disease prevention in rural communities.

Graduates are among the program’s biggest advocates, saying the program has effectively prepared them for their respective careers.

“I will always strive to represent the UH Hilo School of Nursing well and will continue to serve our Hawai‘i Island community with all the valuable knowledge, skills and compassion I have learned,” says Tracy Thornett, a 2015 graduate who works at Hilo Medical Center’s Hale Ho‘ola Behavioral Health Unit where she combines her family nurse practitioner skills with her passion to address behavioral health needs in the community.

Another graduate 2015 graduate, Noemi Libed-Arzaga, is a nurse practitioner expertise at Hilo Medical Center’s Hawai’i Pacific Oncology Center.

The program received five-year accreditation status in 2014 by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Davis says the BOR’s action comes at a good time, with the accreditation up for review in spring 2019.

“Becoming an established program lends credence to the DNP program’s contributions to the community and provides assurance to the community and future students that it will remain a viable academic program in rural Hawai‘i,” David explains. “The recognition given by the BOR will be an important milestone of success that the accreditation body looks at when reviewing the program for academic and practice excellence. This definitely bodes well for the DNP program going forward.”

 

Media release