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University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to Launch New Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Master’s Program


The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing has given approval to the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to offer a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP) master’s program as an extension of its successful and well-respected Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP) program. The NNP program was developed in partnership with Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Magee-Womens Hospital. Students will be able to enroll for courses for the fall 2007 semester.

“We are delighted to have the NNP program officially approved and available to students after three years of hard work and preparation,” said Donna G. Nativio, Ph.D., C.R.N.P., F.A.A.N., associate professor and director of the Family, Adult and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Programs as well as the new NNP program. “The school is fortunate to have this program as an integral and essential component of its overall curriculum. The community will benefit from the care made available to sick newborns by these skilled professionals. Although the program is open to qualified nurses from across the nation, this is an important and convenient opportunity for local nurses interested in this career option. Students who are able to attend full time can complete the program in two years.”

It has been said that nursing is both a discipline and a profession. NNPs use nursing science, related sciences and nursing practice to promote, restore and maintain the health of infants. The primary goal of this program is to prepare nurse practitioners to function in an expanded role that includes managing the health care needs of high-risk infants, their families and children up to two years of age, in collaboration with neonatologists and other pediatric clinicians.

The new NNP program will address unmet needs for NNP care in the region served by the University of Pittsburgh educational programs. There currently are no NNP programs within a 50 mile radius of Pittsburgh and none in southwestern Pennsylvania. There is a substantial need and demand for NNPs which has increased recently due to the amplified acuity of care in NICUs, increase in premature births in the region, limitations on medical resident works hours in academic institutions with NICUs and projected physician shortages. All of these factors jeopardize care in the absence of adequate numbers of skilled NNPs who provide cost effective, high-quality care to high-risk newborns.

“This program is vital to the school and the Pittsburgh region because there is a serious shortage of NNPs locally and nationwide,” said Kathleen Godfrey, M.S.N., C.R.N.P., adjunct faculty and lead nurse practitioner for the NNP program. “Our overall goal is to successfully prepare entry-level neonatal nurse practitioners who will enhance the quality of care and fill the vacancies as expertly trained NNPs in our regional NICUs.”

The NNP master’s program also will focus on providing continuing education for its participants. Maintenance of current knowledge and skill is a necessity for a professional NNP. Continuing education is the vehicle for updating and maintaining knowledge and skill and is essential for the practicing NNP.

The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing ranked seventh overall among the nation’s top schools of nursing in the 2007 issue of U.S. News and World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools,” and fifth in research dollars received from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Nursing educates nurses for an increasingly demanding environment through a curriculum that combines rigorous academic work with varied and intensive clinical experiences and a growing involvement in research. More than 11,000 students have graduated from the School of Nursing’s baccalaureate, masters, R.N. options and doctoral programs since the School was founded in 1939. For more information on the School of Nursing and the educational programs available, please visit


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