College of Nursing to offer doctorate program

As the MSU College of Nursing celebrated its 75th anniversary this September, the Montana University System Board of Regents (BOR) approved its plan to offer the first nursing doctoral degree program in the state.

The program, according to College of Nursing Dean Helen Melland, will “better prepare graduates to make a difference in health care at the systems level.” She said the college was “thrilled” with the BOR’s decision and the new ability to offer the program to Montanans.

The proposal for the program was developed after the American Association of Colleges of Nursing directed that all nurse practitioner programs must offer doctorate degrees by 2015.

The two specialty degrees that will be available at MSU are a Family Nursing Practitioner Program and a Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program.

With the introduction of the doctoral program, the current master’s degree program will be phased out. The Clinical Nurse Leader Program master’s degree, however, will continue as is.

Currently, 25 students are admitted to the master’s program annually. Melland expects the same numbers in the doctorate program. The program’s first class of students will be admitted for Fall 2013.