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Georgia Nursing Workforce Center releases report on advanced practice nursing education
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Melanie Kieve
Senior Director of Communications and Marketing
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Advanced practice nurses — nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists and clinical nurse specialists — are key players in Georgia’s health care system, and reliable information is needed to identify trends in their academic preparation.

To meet this need, the Georgia Nursing Workforce Center has released a report on Georgia’s advanced practice nursing education programs. The report is the first of its kind in the state.

Nineteen schools across Georgia offer advanced practice nursing programs, which include master’s level, post-master’s certificate and doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs of study.

Data were available on 15 of the 19 Georgia schools that participated in the 2022-23 American Association of Colleges of Nursing enrollment and graduations survey. All 15 schools offer nurse practitioner programs, while two offer nurse anesthesia and nurse-midwifery programs. There are no clinical nurse specialist programs in Georgia.  

Among the findings:

  • Georgia schools outperformed national peers (26.7% vs. 4.2%) in the number of post-master’s DNP students enrolled in nurse anesthesia programs. There was minimal difference noted in enrollment in post-baccalaureate DNP nurse anesthesia programs.

  • Georgia schools outperformed national peers in enrollment (43.8% vs. 9.4%) and completions (45.7% vs. 14.9%) for post-master’s certificate adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner programs. The Georgia schools’ outperformance also extended to adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner DNP programs (post-baccalaureate DNP enrolled 20.6% vs. 11.9% and graduated 19.1% vs. 9.9%; post-master’s DNP enrolled 17.5% vs. 4.7% and graduated 19.5% vs. 3.1%). These statistics may mark the demand in Georgia for focused preparation for nurse practitioners working in acute care settings.

  • Georgia schools outperformed national peers in post-master’s DNP enrollment (29.2% vs. 19.8%) and graduations (41.5% vs. 18.3%) for family nurse practitioner programs. This is a call for additional data on the education and degrees students obtain prior to entering a post-master’s family nurse practitioner DNP program. Such data would help determine if this trend is a reflection of the retiring of the clinical nurse specialist role in advanced practice.

  • The largest percentage of post-master’s DNP students enrolled in Georgia (43.8%) and the U.S. (55.4%) are previously certified as nurse practitioners and not seeking additional nurse practitioner certification. This could indicate that students hope to use doctoral education to gain advanced knowledge in areas other than a clinical provider role such as policy and executive leadership. 

  • Georgia schools fell behind national peers in enrollment for master’s-level (5.7% vs. 19.8%), post-master’s certificate (32.8% vs. 56%), and post-master’s DNP (5.1% vs. 13.1%) psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner programs. Georgia enrolled a similar number of post-baccalaureate DNP psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner students as national peers.

According to Chelsea Hagopian, DNP, APRN, AGACNP-BC, executive director of the Georgia Nursing Workforce Center, gaining clarity about the education of advanced practice nurses is important because of the essential role they play in the health care of Georgians.

“Georgia is experiencing health care provider shortages — especially in mental health, maternal health and primary care — and advanced practice nurses are crucial in meeting this need,” says Hagopian, who also serves as an assistant clinical professor at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. “This report provides a snapshot of potential increases in this workforce, which helps Georgia nursing schools, health care entities and policymakers make more informed decisions toward improved health outcomes for Georgia, specifically around access to care.”

Recommendations from the report include the need for a robust infrastructure for consistent, long-term data collection and a mechanism to share data across the state of Georgia. Expansion of data collection efforts should include the geographic location of schools and students and the purposeful use of graduation exit surveys and alumni surveys to capture data on the impact and value of nursing education and employment trends of graduates. 

About the Georgia Nursing Workforce Center

The Georgia Nursing Workforce Center researches and addresses issues of supply and demand for nursing in Georgia, including retention, recruitment, educational capacity and the distribution of nursing workforce resources. In collaboration with the Georgia Nursing Leadership Coalition, the center is housed at the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Learn more here.

About the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing 

As one of the nation’s top nursing schools, the Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is committed to educating visionary nurse leaders and scholars. Home to the No. 1 master’s, No. 3 BSN and No. 6 DNP programs nationwide, the school has been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League of Nursing. The school offers undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and non-degree programs, bringing together cutting-edge resources, distinguished faculty, top clinical experiences and access to leading health care partners to shape the future of nursing and impact health and well-being. Learn more here.

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