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UTHSC College of Nursing Opens Dual Pediatric DNP Program


The University of Tennessee Health Science Center’s College of Nursing is opening a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a dual pediatric concentration to ensure continuity of care for children.

Dr. Michelle Rickard

The college has opened applications for a dual concentration in Pediatric Acute Care and Pediatric Primary Care in its DNP program, a terminal degree that prepares nurses to serve as nurse practitioners. Applications for the program will be open through December 15, and the first cohort for the full-time program will begin in August 2021, said DNP Program Director Bobby Bellflower, DNSc, NNP.

State Board of Nursing guidelines do not allow a nurse practitioner certified only in acute care to provide primary care to patients, nor do they allow a nurse practitioner certified solely in primary care to provide acute care to patients, Dr. Bellflower said. “There is a real disconnect from hospital care to follow up with patients in primary care, and this is one way to help address that disconnect,” she said.

Nurse practitioners certified in both pediatric areas will be able to provide care for children in both settings and “provide better continuity of care for all children,” Dr. Bellflower said. The new program has no part-time option. It is only offered full time and will be one of the few such dual programs in the country. The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board lists only 17 recognized dual Pediatric Acute Care/Pediatric Primary Care nurse practitioner programs.

Dr. Sally Humphrey

UTHSC’s new dual pediatric nurse practitioner program will be headed by the concentration coordinators for the individual pediatric programs: Sally Humphrey, DNP, APRN, CPNP-PC, concentration coordinator for the pediatric primary care nurse practitioner program; and Michelle Rickard, DNP, CPNP-AC, concentration coordinator for the pediatric acute care nurse practitioner program.

The UTHSC College of Nursing currently offers seven single DNP concentrations and three dual DNP concentrations, including the dual pediatric program. The college began offering the DNP concentration in pediatric primary care in 2005 and began offering its DNP concentration in pediatric acute care in 2017. The initial board certification rate of UTHSC College of Nursing graduates for all DNP concentrations combined is 97.1 percent.