Fresno State selected for first steps toward Nursing, Physical Therapy doctoral programs

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Fresno State selected for first steps toward Nursing, Physical Therapy doctoral programs

The California State University may begin planning for three Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) pilot programs to launch as early as fall 2012, pending approval by the CSU Board of Trustees at their meeting Jan. 25-26. California State University, Fresno is among the three campuses and also is among campuses selected to plan for Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program.

“Fresno State is honored to be selected as the lead campus to work with San José State to develop the Nursing doctoral programs,” said President John D. Welty. “This selection and the Doctor of Physical Therapy program selection are a tribute to our outstanding faculty in the College of Health and Human Services and recognition of the great need which exists in Central California for health care professionals. We will begin immediately to seek the resources we need to launch the programs.”

The U.S. Bureau of Health Professionals projects California will have a shortfall of more than 100,000 nurses in ten years.  A key challenge to closing this projected shortfall has been a limited number of slots available in California nursing programs, which is tied to a limited number of individuals qualified to serve as nursing faculty.

Due to California’s pressing need for nursing faculty, the state adopted AB 867 (2010) that allowed the CSU to offer an independent DNP.  The CSU already awards 60 percent of bachelor’s level nursing degrees in California, and has several excellent master’s level programs.

“The DNP represents the extent to which California’s health – economically and medically – is directly tied to the education provided to CSU students,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed.  “By offering top quality and affordable degree programs, the CSU will help build the pipeline to fill the ranks of nursing faculty.”

The three proposed DNP programs include two programs that will be offered jointly by multiple CSU campuses.  The joint programs would include Fresno and San José in the north and Fullerton, Long Beach and Los Angeles in the south. San Diego is recommended for a stand-alone program.

The DNP will build on the CSU faculty expertise and campus resources based in existing nursing departments.

Each DNP program is subject to the chancellor’s approval and determination of need and feasibility, and must demonstrate that qualified faculty, financial support, facilities, and information resources are sufficient to establish and maintain the programs.  Prior to chancellor approval, programs will seek professional and regional accreditation, as well as the recommendation of the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

The CSU Board of Trustees will also consider allowing campuses to begin planning to offer Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs consistent with state law, AB 2382 (2010).  Trustee approval would allow Fresno, Long Beach, Northridge, Sacramento and San Diego to develop proposals for programs to launch as early as summer 2012.

The DPT is particularly relevant to accreditation in CSU physical therapy programs.  Physical therapists practicing in California must have graduated from an accredited physical therapy program as well as passed national and state examinations.  Beginning in 2015, the National Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education will only grant accreditation to programs awarding doctorates.

With the doctoral programs, the CSU will be able to continue educating physical therapists to meet the state licensure requirements.

The CSU currently educates one-third of the state’s physical therapy graduates.  Educating these health professionals is critical in a high-growth field such as physical therapy.  In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 30 percent growth in the demand for physical therapists by 2018 as compared to 2008.

As with the DNP, each DPT program is also subject to the chancellor’s approval and must meet the same support, resource and accreditation criteria.