The Doctor of Nursing Practice: Promoting Partnerships and Reducing Health Disparities Among Vulnerable Populations

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Charlene D. Whitaker-Brown, DNP, MSN, FNP-C
Judith B. Cornelius, PhD, MS
School of Nursing, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC, USA

The purpose of this presentation is to describe how a collaborative environment was created between two universities to support Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) students as they build their programs of scholarly activity to meet the needs of our vulnerable populations.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and Western Carolina University (WCU) established a partnership called the UNC Charlotte/WCU Dual DNP program,awarding the terminal degree of the DNP. Together these two institutions connected to provide the context for the Dual DNP program development, implementation and evaluation.

UNC Charlotte is North Carolina's urban research university. Located in the state's largest metropolitan area, UNC Charlotte is among the fastest growing universities in the UNC System ( UNCC, 2016). In contrast as the westernmost institution in the University of North Carolina system, WCU provides comprehensive educational opportunities to residents in the state’s western region and attracts students from around the globe to explore the region’s natural diversity. Founded in 1889 Western Carolina now provides an education to more than 10,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs (WCU, 2016).

This is a case history describing the innovative approach of the collaborative process two universities shared to build a growing and successful accredited DNP Program. The first step in developing a successful collaborative environment was planning the partnership. Next, effective approaches in assisting students with their scholarship were identified. DNP students were encouraged to engage in interdisciplinary, scholarly work as they expand and improve innovative methods to deliver care to our most vulnerable populations. Finally, program evaluation was significant in the identification of critical elements of an effective partnership.

Universities must provide the needed opportunities, resources, and mentoring to support both faculty and their students. Successful inter-institutional collaboration and university investment in the development of the Dual DNP Program has helped to increase the knowledge and skills of DNP students as they build their programs of scholarly activity to effect change in vulnerable populations served.