CSU-Pueblo offers first doctorate degree: Doctor of Nursing Practice


Colorado State University-Pueblo is offering its first doctorate degree, the Doctor of Nursing Practice, through its School of Nursing.

“Offering the Doctor of Nursing Practice is a pivotal point in the history of our university,” said CSU-Pueblo Provost Mohamed Abdelrahman. “We look forward to making a significant contribution to the health care needs of our community and beyond.”

The new degree will help meet the growing health care needs of rural southern Colorado and moves the university the university toward its goal of being the people’s university of the Southwest United States by 2028.

“A great deal of time and effort went into developing the program to ensure our students are well equipped to meet the growing needs in today’s health care industry,” Abdelrahman said in a news release. “I am thankful to the faculty and staff, and the CSU system for their strong support of this effort.”

CSU-Pueblo nursing faculty began developing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree for nurse practitioners after a state senate bill was signed in 2012, allowing the university to offer doctoral degrees.

The program went through a variety of approvals by internal and external entities including, most recently, the Higher Learning Commission, the official accrediting body for CSU-Pueblo.

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“The clinical doctorate degree is considered a terminal degree in nursing practice, CSU-Pueblo Associate Dean of Nursing Joe Franta said. “Students enrolling in the new degree program come in as baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses and graduate with the skills to enhance practice excellence through evidence-based practice methodology, system leadership, health policy and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Students will earn their doctorate degree in 3½ years. The degree program will develop or validate expertise in one of four areas of specialties: adult/gerontology acute care; adult/gerontology acute care and family; psychiatric-mental health advanced nursing practice for the nurse practitioner; and a population focus for those with a master’s as a nurse educator. 

“CSU-Pueblo offers the only dual-emphasis adult/gerontology acute care/family nurse practitioner [specialty] in Colorado,” Franta said.  “This new degree is an excellent fit for the increasing health care access needs, especially in Southeastern Colorado.”

The degree will be a great step forward for individuals who want to become leaders in advanced nursing roles and make changes at the systems level that will impact health care at the local, regional and national levels. The university is seeking candidacy for the program with the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

“The curriculum is designed to incorporate innovative, interprofessional, health care learning experiences and focuses on evidence-based health care in rural settings,” said Susan Belport, CSU-Pueblo associate professor of nursing.  “The program maximizes the use of hybrid delivery methods for enhanced learning and increased course accessibility.”

Graduates will be prepared to generate new knowledge through innovation of practice change, translation of evidence, and implementation of quality improvement processes in specific practice settings, systems, or with specific populations to improve health or health outcomes.

“A Doctor of Nursing Practice will provide additional community health support to the more than five decades of service to health care in the region that CSU-Pueblo nursing graduates have provided,” Belport said.

The demand for nurses and nurse practitioners is a continuing national concern, with Business Insider listing Nurse Practitioners as the one of the best 21 jobs of the future for 2024 with an estimated increased need of 44,700 new positions.

By offering the new degree, “we will be better positioned to address those local and subsequent national needs [and] opening doors to the university leadership, community partners and other schools of nursing,” Franta said. “The School of Nursing will stimulate the local, regional, and university community and be a point of pride for students.”

The CSU-Pueblo School of Nursing has been educating professional nurses to meet the health care needs of diverse populations since 1964. Over the past 50-plus years, the department has accomplished numerous milestones and has become an integral part of the Pueblo community.

CSU-Pueblo has conferred more than 2500 bachelor’s degrees and 150 master’s degrees over the last five decades.

According to CSU-Pueblo dean of the College of Education, Engineering, and Professional Studies, Sylvester Kalevela, the doctoral program will bring recognition to the community and university that nursing is on the move as a leader.

“Adding the Doctor of Nursing Practice is a status that will not only enhance our nursing program but the academic standing of the university as well,” Kalevela said.