Addressing Gaps in Care, New Program Offers Dual Pharmacy-Nursing Degree with Family Nurse Practitioner

Academic partnership between Colleges of Pharmacy and Nursing provides innovative solution to alleviate the health-care provider shortage facing the nation.
“This innovative program exemplifies our focus on providing next-generation education and preparing our students for the inevitable changes and new challenges they will face in their fields."

TUCSON, Ariz. – Students at the University of Arizona Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy soon will be offered the opportunity to simultaneously earn a Master of Science in Nursing, a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Family Nurse Practitioner certificate through a first-of-its-kind program created with the future of health care in mind.

The program responds to a national need for qualified health-care providers. The Association of American Medical Colleges projects a shortage of between 42,600 and 121,300 physicians by 2030, while demand for primary-care services is projected to increase at a more rapid pace than physician supply. An aging population, mixed with an exodus of primary care providers entering retirement, has stretched health-care resources thin, particularly for individuals living in rural or medically underserved areas that lack regular provider access.

“This unique program allows students to train as a nurse with a master’s degree and then obtain a Family Nurse Practitioner certificate and PharmD at the same time, giving them flexible career choices,” said UArizona College of Nursing Professor Terry Badger, PhD, RN, PMHCNS-BC, FAPOS, FAAN, chair, Division of Community and Systems Health Science.

The College of Nursing and the College of Pharmacy worked together to develop a curriculum pathway to save students both time and significant tuition dollars. Students graduating from the specialty program will be ideally qualified to provide care in community-based settings and will have the skill set and certifications to diagnose, prescribe and treat patients unable to easily access primary health care.

“This program is an inventive solution to alleviate the health-care provider shortage facing the nation,” said College of Pharmacy Dean Rick G. Schnellmann, PhD. “The College of Pharmacy is proud to collaborate with the College of Nursing on this pioneering initiative, and is excited to provide students an enhanced interdisciplinary skill set they can use to better serve their communities.

The answer to the impending shortage of qualified primary-care providers lies in novel approaches that complement the current education and training programs the two colleges have in place.

Current efforts to alleviate the situation include increasing the numbers of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. This will help address the shortage, but is considered unlikely to meet the immediate health-care needs of the country.

“These two exceptional colleges are working together to address a critical national need, demonstrating the forward-thinking, collaborative spirit found at the University of Arizona Health Sciences,” said Michael D. Dake, MD, senior vice president for UArizona Health Sciences. “This innovative program exemplifies our focus on providing next-generation education and preparing our students for the inevitable changes and new challenges they will face in their fields.”

For more information on the program visit our Dual-Degrees page.

This story was originally published by University of Arizona Health Sciences