Soothing aches, ailments, emotions, and spiritual pain, nurses bridge the gap between doctor and patient, serving as liaison and advocate. But aging baby boomers and large numbers of retiring clinical nurses have caused an alarming nursing shortage. According to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2012, making registered nursing the top occupation for job growth over the next eight years.
Beginning in fall 2004, Azusa Pacific University’s School of Nursing introduced a Ph.D. in Nursing Program, becoming the only evangelical, Christian university west of the Mississippi to offer this degree. After a six-year process of developing and proposing the program, the School of Nursing received accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) in February 2004.
“This program evolved in response to the severe nursing shortage in both the clinical and academic sectors,” said Marianne Hattar, RN, FAAN, DNSc, professor and chair of the Ph.D. Program. “It also reflects a commitment on the part of the faculty to participate in the efforts of improving the health of society and advancing knowledge development in the discipline of nursing.”
The doctoral program provides theory-based professional education and a solid grounding in research as the basis for advancing nursing knowledge and nursing education, and improving healthcare. The curriculum integrates a wide body of knowledge in the area of wellness promotion and health maintenance. Doctoral students can choose to concentrate their research in health of the family and the community, or international health. The Ph.D. Program also provides a sub-specialization in nursing education.
“The recognition by WASC to allow APU to offer its first Ph.D. in Nursing marks a significant turning point in APU’s academic history,” said Michael M. Whyte, Ph.D., provost. “Accreditation officials singled out the university’s doctoral leadership, innovative curriculum, and phenomenal faculty. APU is now positioned to provide transformational scholarship to students on all academic levels.”
“For many of our graduates, nursing is not just an occupation or business; it’s a calling,” said Aja Tulleners Lesh, Ph.D., dean of the School of Nursing. “Their commitment to this calling and the ability to keep God First in their lives sets them apart from other nurses. It is our hope that the Ph.D. in Nursing will create that very same distinction, this time in nurse leaders.”