Categorized | Education

UH-Hilo Doctor of Nursing Practice now an established program


The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo School of Nursing’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program has been awarded permanent status by the Board of Regents (BOR). The BOR’s recent action changed DNP’s designation from a “provisional” to an “established” program.

“The BOR’s decision validates the outstanding quality of the DNP, along with the efforts of our Nursing faculty and staff who have worked hard to develop and administer this important program,” said Dr. Alice Davis, director, School of Nursing and Doctor of Nursing Practice. “Our DNP graduates are going to be a tremendous part of the healthcare workforce in Hawai’i, and can help address the nursing faculty shortage unfolding across the country.”

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree in nursing. The program began at UH Hilo in 2012. The DNP provides training to become Family Nurse Practitioners, which are considered primary care providers with global prescriptive authority. The DNP also has a leadership track for those interested in this area of practice. The program objective is to provide nurses with doctoral-level education focusing on primary care, cultural diversity, health disparities, health promotion and disease prevention in rural communities.

Graduates say the DNP has effectively prepared them for their respective careers, and are now among the program’s biggest advocates.

“I will always strive to represent the UH Hilo School of Nursing well and will continue to serve our Hawai’i Island community with all the valuable knowledge, skills and compassion I have learned,” said Tracy Thornett, a 2015 graduate who works at Hilo Medical Center’s Hale Ho`ola Behavioral Health Unit where she combines her family nurse practitioner skills with her passion to address behavioral health needs in the community.

“Thank you for making my dream come true,” added Noemi Libed-Arzaga, a fellow 2015graduate, who shares her nurse practitioner expertise at Hilo Medical Center’s Hawai’i Pacific Oncology Center. “To be a provider, I will do anything and everything to help my School of Nursing,”

The UH Hilo DNP is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which awarded the program the full five-year accreditation status in 2014. Davis said the BOR’s action comes at a good time, with DNP’s accreditation up for review in spring 2019.

“Becoming an established program lends credence to the DNP program’s contributions to the community and provides assurance to the community and future students that it will remain a viable academic program in rural Hawai’i,” David noted. “The recognition given by the BOR will be an important milestone of success that the accreditation body looks at when reviewing the program for academic and practice excellence. This definitely bodes well for the DNP program going forward.”

For more information on the DNP program, contact Davis by email at

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