Columbia Nursing Introduces New Masters-Entry Curriculum

Fifteen-month program addresses growing need for advanced nurses to deliver more complex care

New York, NY –May 18, 2016 -- Columbia University School of Nursing has introduced a new 15-month curriculum for non-nurse college graduates that will educate students as registered nurses with a master’s degree.


Masters Direct Entry (MDE) builds on and replaces an earlier 12-month program that awarded bachelor of nursing science degrees to non-nurse college graduates. MDE is aimed at both future caregivers and researchers. The inaugural MDE class begins in June.


“People are living longer. Chronic diseases that used to be fatal in the short term are now being managed,” said Bobbie Berkowitz, PhD, dean of Columbia University School of Nursing and senior vice president, Columbia University Medical Center.


“Nurses require expert knowledge to support the complex care associated with chronic disease," said Karen Desjardins, DNP, director of the new MDE program. "New technology, gene-based treatments, and an impetus to keep costs down also means that nurses need more education."


The Masters Direct Entry program is a key part of other changes at Columbia Nursing. The school was an early adopter of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s recommendation that, beginning in 2015, all new advanced-practice nursing students graduate with a doctoral degree. Starting next year, becoming a nurse practitioner or nurse midwife at Columbia Nursing will mean acquiring a doctor of nursing practice degree (DNP). Columbia Nursing’s Nurse Anesthesia program culminating in the clinical doctorate will begin in 2019.


At the end of the 15-month program, MDE graduates will sit for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination―the nationwide test for the licensing of nurses) and have the option of becoming advanced practice nurses by moving directly into Columbia Nursing’s 33-month DNP program or obtaining a doctorate in nursing research (PhD).


“Columbia Nursing has been a leader in clinical education since the school began,” said Judy Honig, DNP, EdD, associate dean for academic affairs and dean of students. “By establishing the MDE program we’re building on that long history of leadership. Education is power, and the more our students know, the better they can care for patients and improve how care is delivered.”


The MDE curriculum has several themes. First, an emphasis on evidence-based-practice will include education in research methods and limitations, interpretation of data, and applying new findings to practice. “We want our students to think of evidence-based practice as central to what it means to be a 21st century nurse,” said Berkowitz. “Doing something because it’s always been done is not good enough. Whatever kind of care you’re providing, the default assumption must be to learn what the research says. This is a way of thinking but it’s also a way of professional life.”


Another hallmark will be care coordination. Nurses are increasingly responsible for managing care as patients move from one healthcare environment to another. The MDE curriculum will provide a thorough understanding of the various settings and care teams involved in such shifts. Features include patient-centered care planning, teamwork and collaboration, and educating and involving patients and families.


A third thread will address providing culturally sensitive care including matters of religion.


“At Columbia Nursing we recognize our responsibility to furnish the next generation of nurses with a superb education -- one that prepares them for delivering the finest, most compassionate care possible,” said Berkowitz.

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