Congress appropriated funding in 1992 to implement a training program for nurse practitioners (NPs) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU). After receiving operational authority in 1993, Dr. Faye Glen Abdellah, founding Dean of the Graduate School of Nursing (GSN), began recruiting faculty and staff, developing curricula, and the first 3 NP students matriculated in August 1993. In 1996, the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) approved the GSN as a funded School of the Department of Defense (DoD) and in 2008 the GSN received dedicated classroom and faculty space in Building E on the USU campus. Students in the Masters of Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Advanced Practice Nursing (APN) programs are all commissioned officers in one of the Uniformed Services. Students receive full pay and allowances, free medical care, tuition, books and lab fees while at USU and upon graduation, in return all graduates complete a service obligation determined by their sponsoring Service or Agency.
The GSN enjoys a collaborative and cooperative relationship with the Chief Nurses of the four uniformed services (Army, Navy, Air Force and United States Public Health Service) and nursing leaders from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA) and the American Red Cross. All together these federal nursing leaders represent over 125,000 nurses with a beneficiary population exceeding 8.5 million. Nursing leaders from the uniformed services and VA coordinate the clinical specialties and numbers of graduate nurses with the GSN to meet the needs of the Uniformed Services. They nominate and authorize students to apply for admission to the GSN programs and ultimately employ all GSN graduates. USU is also tightly connected to military and federal stakeholders. The Surgeons General of the four Uniformed Services are ex officio members of the University Board of Regents (BOR) which creates a direct and open communication channel between the services, USU leadership, and USU/GSN curriculum.
The GSN offers both an MSN and DNP degree option for advanced practice nurses and upon program completion, graduates are eligible to sit for national certification in the following advanced practice nursing specialties: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Registered Nurse Anesthetist (RNA), Perioperative, Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist (AG-CNS), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP). The GSN also offers a full or part-time Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science (PhD) degree.
The first 3 students to matriculate were FNP students who arrived in August 1993. Since that time FNP students have continuously matriculated in classes ranging in size from 7 to 29. As of May 2018, a total of 270 FNP students have graduated from the MSN program and another 74 from the DNP. The first CRNA students matriculated in 1994 and have been continuously admitted since that time, in cohorts ranging from 11 to 37 students. As of May 2018, a total of 341 RNA students have completed the MSN and another 51 have completed the DNP. In 2002 the GSN established the nation’s only AG-CNS program with a focus on Perioperative nursing. To date the AG-CNS program has graduated 63 MSN prepared clinicians who have had an enormous impact on patient safety and improved outcomes in the high risk perioperative environment. In 2007 the services asked the GSN to establish a PMHNP program option to increase the number of uniformed mental health providers. The first students were admitted in 2008 and as of May 2018, 22 PMHNP students have completed the MSN degree and 34 have earned a DNP degree. The newest APRN program in the GSN is the WHNP program. Established at the request of the Air Force, the first students arrived in 2014. Built on the foundation of the FNP curriculum, WHNP students are offered the opportunity to certify as both WHNP and FNP clinicians. As of May 2018, a total of 4 DNP WHNPs have graduated, all of whom have successfully passed both the FNP and WHNP certification examinations. The PhD program admitted the first students in 2003, and 40 nurse scientists have completed the program many of whom now hold very senior leadership or scientific positions.
GSN graduates are uniquely prepared for practice and research in Military and Federal Health Care Systems. The “signature curriculum” has three foci: 1) Operational Readiness in a Changing Environment, 2) Clinical Decision-Making in the Federal Health Care Delivery System, and 3) Population Health and Outcomes, with cross-cutting emphasis on patient safety, evidenced based practice/research, leadership, the cultural and political environments, and the transition of technology to practice. The PhD program, established in 2003, has a focus on areas of research germane to military and federal health.
GSN faculty and staff: have an exceptional blend of experience in the military and/or Federal Health Care Systems, provide a distinctly different educational experience and are dedicated to producing graduates well prepared to deliver health care in a wide variety of settings and communities, in the U.S and around the world. The GSN is committed to promoting clinical excellence, furthering research and scholarship in healthcare and to inter-professional collaboration in education with the School of Medicine including the departments of Military and Emergency Medicine; Preventive Medicine and Biometrics; Medical and Clinical Psychology; and Neuroscience.