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State OKs IPFW nursing doctorate

– IPFW soon will offer nurses and nursing students the opportunity to obtain a doctorate in nursing practice.

The joint venture between IPFW, Purdue University-Calumet and Purdue’s main campus in West Lafayette, will likely admit its first students in the fall of 2015.

The program was approved this month by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education. Final approval of the program by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association is expected this year, IPFW said this week.

It is the first doctoral program in the state to be offered on a regional university campus, according to IPFW.

“This program directly addresses the community’s need for advanced nursing practice,” IPFW Chancellor Vicky Carwein said. “It will put more nurses with the highest level of clinical education on the front lines of health care.”

The program, for advanced practical nurses, will offer a practiced degree, as opposed to a research degree, said Carol Sternberger, chair and a professor of IPFW/Parkview’s department of nursing.

It is similar in that way to doctorates in pharmacy or physical therapy, she said.

Sternberger has been working on putting the program together for the past three years, and she credits Carwein and Purdue President Mitch Daniels for helping get it off the ground.

With the Affordable Care Act highlighting a growing need for general practitioners, especially in the more rural areas, Sternberger said the program will put more nurse practitioners in the area to better meet the needs of the community.

Her views were echoed by Craig Dunker, CEO of Lutheran Medical Group.

“With the expansion of the Healthy Indiana Program and with a growing aging population, we support the university’s efforts to educate and train more nurse practitioners,” Dunker said. “With the looming physician shortage, health care will have to rely on nurse practitioners and more midlevel providers. We applaud IPFW’s efforts.”

Graduates of the program will have the skills necessary to run a clinic, as well as advanced skills in nursing, Sternberger said.

“They know how to get patients through the health systems and provide the highest level of care,” she said.

rgreen@jg.net

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