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Doctor of Nursing Practice Program offers nursing professionals new opportunities

Josephine Arriola was a clinical director of patient services at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chippewa Falls in 2010 when UW-Eau Claire began offering a doctor of nursing practice degree program, the first doctoral program offered at the university. Arriola had earned her master's degree from UW-Eau Claire in 2000, but she recognized that her leadership position at the hospital could put her in a position where she'd be supervising colleagues in patient services who have a doctoral degree. So she jumped at the chance to begin working toward her own doctoral degree once it became an option at her alma mater.

"I had management responsibilities for the respiratory department, sleep disorders center, intensive care unit and house supervisors," said Arriola, who is a clinical instructor in UW-Eau Claire's College of Nursing and Health Sciences. "Many of the people who I work with have a doctorate in another discipline. As their colleague working with them in a collaborative team, it made sense that I have a comparable degree."

Having more DNP nursing professionals is important to the nursing profession, said Arriola.

"It pushes the bar up for nursing in line with other disciplines," said Arriola, who earned her DNP in 2012. "Also, with health care reform and other changes to the health care industry, nursing needs to be at the table. Nurses need to be prepared to be innovative and to delve into current research on best practices so that patients continue to get quality care."

The opportunity to work toward her DNP on a part-time basis has allowed her to continue her nursing positions at St. Joseph's Hospital and UW-Eau Claire.