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Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialist (NCNS) Tracks Pausing Admissions for 2014-15

The University of Washington School of Nursing (SON) has been offering graduate education to prepare nurses to be Neonatal Nurse Practitioners (NNP) and Neonatal Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) for many years, first through the Master of Nursing degree and now through the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. This highly-specialized education has prepared nurses for the crucial, advanced practice nursing care for the most vulnerable newborns and their families. Along with other nationally-prominent schools of nursing, we have seen consistent fluctuations in the need for these highly-educated nurses and uncertainty in the numbers of nurses who apply to our programs. Several educational programs throughout the nation that prepare NNPs and NCNSs have closed or suspended admissions in recent years because they could not enroll enough students to cover costs of delivering the education.  

Here at UW School of Nursing, we also have difficulty maintaining yearly admission to the NNP and NCNS specialties because of the small numbers of qualified applicants to the DNP program. Therefore, UW SoN has decided to continue serving our currently-enrolled students with a curriculum and faculty dedicated to excellence, but to suspend new admissions for academic year 2014-2015 while we lead a national conversation to address this issue. (In other words, we will not be accepting applications for DNP-NNP and DNP-NCNS in January 2014 for the 2014-15 Academic Year.) The SON will continue to accept applications for the Perinatal Nurse Specialist track.

We plan to work together with our colleagues in other nationally-based educational institutions and nursing organizations to assess factors influencing student demand and to find solutions to offering an appropriate number and location of programs to meet our nation’s need for highly-skilled and valued neonatal advanced practice registered nurses. We are asking for your patience and support while we take on the responsibility of leading a national effort to create a predictable and sustainable plan for preparing NNPs and NCNSs needed by our clinical partners and the vulnerable patients and families they serve. 

As we engage with our colleagues in other schools and organizations around the nation, we will maintain communication with our students, alumni, partners, and colleagues to keep you informed of progress and plans for the future. Our goal is to recommend a course of action for the UW School of Nursing in early spring of 2014.

We appreciate your interest in the future of these advanced practice registered nurse specialties and also ask for your understanding and your support. For those students currently in the NNP and Neonatal CNS tracks, please do feel secure that we are committed to providing you with the quality education and support you need to complete your degree and pursue your career goals.