New Doctorate of Nursing Practice program’s inaugural class begins journey of a lifetime motivated for future success

Six future doctors of nursing from Atlanta to Texas have started their journey as the first cohort of the Alcorn State University School of Nursing’s new Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Back in July, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) approved the program, which is the university's first doctorate program in school history. All the members of the inaugural class are Alcorn nursing alums.

The DNP program offers a full-time progression option to graduates of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) master's degree program. The program requires 36 credit hours to be completed in five semesters of continuous enrollment. It also provides advanced education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, healthcare systems, evaluation of practice models, and health policy.

Past experiences motivate some of the new DNP class to continue their studies at Alcorn. Leandre Collins, who earned a master's degree in nursing in 2010, enrolled in her alma mater again because of the School's quality instruction and preparation. The current family nurse practitioner at Mallory Community Health Center, Tchula, Mississippi credits the School for equipping her for her career.

"I gained many new skills while pursuing my master's degree," said Collins. "The instructors and staff were great at mentoring and leading me. They helped me to learn more about research, and they equipped me to pursue a doctorate. They are the reason for my success today."

Pursuing a doctorate provides more opportunities for nurses to expand their horizons in the field. That is the goal for Erika Martin, a nurse at The Medical Resort at Pearland in Texas who earned a master's in nursing from Alcorn in 2018. Her mission is to use her degree to become a teacher in the future.

"My goal is to transition into academia, and earning a doctorate in nursing is a requirement," said Martin. "I've been doing hands-on patient care as a nurse for 14 years, so I'm ready to explore a different aspect of the nursing profession. I'm also here to expand my knowledge in the field. So far, the program seems organized. I believe the program will be successful."

Conducting research is mandatory for students to complete the program. For Jennifer Gates, a nurse at Atlanta Medical Center who also earned a master's in nursing from Alcorn in 2018, participating in medical research is what excites her most about furthering her education.

"One of my passions is doing research," said Gates. "The doctorate program requires students to do a research project to graduate, and I am so excited for the opportunity to do what I love. I believe that the courses and research will be challenging but rewarding at the same time."

The class is filled with professionals that are staples in their communities for their service. Dr. Debra Spring, dean for the School, expressed her pride in the students for enhancing their knowledge to become even better servants.

"What makes me proud about this class is that all of them are employed and making a significant difference in their communities," said Spring. "Their pursuit of Alcorn's DNP program gives them additional opportunities to make a positive impact on the people they serve."

Visit the Doctor of Nursing Practice page for more information about the program.