Weber State now offers a new Master of Science in Nursing-Nurse Practitioner degree for students. (Source: Weber State University)

One of the top nursing programs in the nation will be expanding next fall as Weber State University introduces its new Master of Science in Nursing-Nurse Practitioner degree.

The new graduate degree program was announced by the university in late July. Melissa Neville, the director of the WSU Master of Science in Nursing program, said that the nurse practitioner graduate degree will be a major addition to the nursing department.

“We will be on the forefront of advancing the field of nursing,” Neville said in a press release. “By adding this nurse practitioner program, the School of Nursing will add a higher-level clinical component that will support our present philosophy. We want to prepare nurses who can practice at all levels and meet the demands of changing health care.”

The program overview describes the degree as combining, “clinical skills as a registered nurse with new expertise in diagnosing and treating health conditions, preventing disease (and) promoting and managing health.”

WSU School of Nursing Chair Susan Thornock said nurse practitioners play an important role in the future of healthcare.

“If you look at the cost of health care, a nurse practitioner is not quite as expensive as a physician, but can still give quality care,” Thornock said in a press release. “They will work directly with physicians and can help meet healthcare needs now and in the future.”

Beginning in the Fall 2016 semester with 15 students per year, the nurse practitioner degree will be the third MSN degree offered at Weber State, joining the MSN-Nurse Leader: Executive and MSN-Nurse Leader: Educator programs. There were 42 students pursuing MSN degrees during the Spring 2015 semester, according to School of Nursing Enrollment Director Robert Holt.

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