OU Nursing Celebrates Opening of Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program

To address a critical nationwide shortage, the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing is teaming up with Arizona State University to launch a new program designed to increase the supply of practitioners.

“This new program reflects our commitment to address crucial health needs,” said Deborah Booton-Hiser, professor and director at the OU College of Nursing. “The need for highly qualified neonatal nurse practitioners is critical.”

In 2004 there were only 37 neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) programs in the United States . In 2005, 189 nurses graduated as NNPs. Nurse managers across the nation responding to a 2002 survey indicated that the limited number of programs have led to a shortage across the nation and in Oklahoma.

Booton-Hiser said there are less than 40 neonatal nurse practitioners in Oklahoma , a shortfall of about 20 to 25 needed now. Medical experts estimate about 12 new NNPs are needed in Oklahoma each year to replace those who are leaving their positions.

An estimated 400,000 children are admitted to Neonatal Intensive Care Units across the nation each year, and each unit requires the unique expertise of neonatalogists, neonatal nurses and neonatal nurse practitioners.

OU students can enroll in existing core courses at OU's Oklahoma City or Tulsa campuses. Curriculum for the NNP program is avail able online and through video conferencing courses.

The OU College of Nursing provides the clinical and practicum portions of the program at OU Children's Hospital at OU MEDICAL CENTER and other hospitals statewide.

“Their education is enriched because we have identified great community support for learning opportunities,” Booten-Hiser said.

To celebrate the new program and provide an opportunity for potential students to learn more about curriculum, the OU College of Nursing will sponsor a reception at 3 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, in the lobby of the College, 1100 N. Stonewall in Oklahoma City.

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