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Riverside, Calif. (Jan. 15, 2015) -- California Baptist University will have its first doctoral degree beginning in the fall of 2015. The School of Nursing will offer the doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) after it was approved by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

"It is very exciting to be launching CBU's first doctoral program later this year," said Dr. Jonathan Parker, CBU provost and vice president for academic affairs. "We have been working very diligently to develop a high quality DNP degree program and I'm especially pleased that our accrediting agency has recognized that effort and commented very favorably on the result."

The school expects 20 students in its first class, said Dr. Lisa Bursch, acting director of the DNP program. Bursch said there is a national movement to have more nurses educated at a doctoral level because of the complexity of health care. For that reason, the school is looking to train nurse leaders to have an impact on health outcomes.

"For as much money as (the nation) spends on health care, our national outcomes are not that great," Bursch said. "Something's not translating between what we know to do and what's being done."

The nursing doctoral program will be the only one in Riverside County, Bursch said. Students in the clinical doctorate will take original research and put it into practice. Classes will include organization and systems leadership class, nursing theory and translational research, policy and finance. All students will do a project, which involves looking at health outcomes and how to improve them.

Parker said it is fitting that CBU's first doctoral program is in nursing. "Programs such as the DNP not only help to meet an important need in society by producing highly-trained healthcare professionals," he explained, "but they also represent the service-related values that California Baptist University seeks to instill in its graduates."