Collaboration with St. Cloud State improves access to primary care in Central Minnesota

New pathway to DNP focuses on underserved communities while meeting state’s workforce needs

April 4, 2021
Brett Stursa

U of M's Goldy Gopher with Saint Cloud State U's husky

The University of Minnesota School of Nursing and St. Cloud State University Department of Nursing Science announced a new collaboration designed to improve access to primary health care in Central Minnesota.

The collaboration will create a pathway for nurses to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree with a family nurse practitioner specialty, designed to produce graduates who will be skilled in providing comprehensive, family-based care to rural and underserved communities. The collaboration will also prioritize educational opportunities for registered nurses already working in the CentraCare Health system, allowing them to significantly expand their scope of responsibility, service and impact.

“This collaboration with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing will provide nurses in our region with the opportunity to engage in world-class research and advanced clinical practice,” says Shonda Craft, PhD, St. Cloud State University School of Health and Human Services dean. “The University of Minnesota School of Nursing is a leader in doctoral nursing education nationally and has led the state in nursing and health innovation for more than 100 years. The combination of a rigorous educational program alongside clinical engagement with CentraCare Health will create a program that positions graduates for leadership in advanced nursing practice in the rural and underserved areas of Central Minnesota.”

The first St. Cloud cohort will begin in fall 2021, with courses taught by University of Minnesota School of Nursing faculty and students completing their clinical practice at CentraCare Health affiliates. A dedicated St. Cloud State University faculty, Assistant Professor Mary Pesch, DNP, MPH, RN, FNP-BC, will work with the St. Cloud cohort. St. Cloud State Nursing faculty will create a dedicated DNP curriculum designed to focus on rural family nursing care that will launch in 2025.

“Community-engaged outreach like this collaboration is at the heart of the University’s land-grant mission.”
– Connie White Delaney, dean of University of Minnesota School of Nursing

The collaboration is supported by a donation from CentraCare, which committed $1.5 million to St. Cloud State to help the University establish a graduate nursing program and the Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to partner in translating the scholarship of the University of Minnesota and engaging with St. Cloud State to focus on collaborating to address the demand for advanced practice nurse practitioners and improve access to primary care in Central Minnesota,” says Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI, FNAP, dean of the University’s School of Nursing. “Community-engaged outreach like this collaboration is at the heart of the University’s land-grant mission.”

This program is the first health related and second doctoral collaboration between St. Cloud State and the University of Minnesota. The institutions innovated to collaborate on the first joint doctoral program in Minnesota in 1994, when they launched the Doctorate of Education in Educational Administration and Leadership, St. Cloud State’s first doctoral program.

“Improving access to health care throughout the state is a priority of the University of Minnesota, and this is an excellent example of collaboration between institutions to accomplish that goal,” said Jakub Tolar, MD, PhD, vice president for clinical affairs.

Categories: Education