Dr. Joan S. Tilghman (l) is chairperson of the Doctor of Nursing Practitioner program at Coppin State University, and Jennifer Pope (r) the first student to receive all three nursing degrees from Coppin. (Curtesy Photos)

By Beverly Richards
Special to the AFRO

In 2005, the Institute of Medicine published a report calling for nursing schools to develop a non-research clinical doctorate to prepare practitioners to serve as clinical faculty. 

Coppin State University (CSU) Helene Fuld School of Nursing answered the call by establishing a Doctor of Nursing Practitioner (DNP) program to fulfill the need. “It was an effortless decision,” said Chairperson Joan S. Tilghman. “Coppin’s School of Nursing had everything it needed to develop and implement a Doctor of Nurse Practitioner program. We had a national reputation for scholarship and excellence, the knowledge base and the qualified and nationally recognized faculty.”

Dr. Joan S. Tilghman is chairperson of the Doctor of Nursing Practitioner program at Coppin.

This marks a major milestone for CSU as it is their first doctoral program, making it one of only five HBCUs with DNP programs. “One of the goals of the program is that the alumni will make a positive, measurable impact in nursing,” said Dr. Tilghman. “I envision hundreds of graduates of this program serving their communities with passion and purpose in a variety of professional roles.”  Alumni of the program serve on advisory boards. They are employed at the Veterans Administration, private partnerships and state agencies. Several of the current DNP students have been selected to serve as Behavioral Health Ambassadors by the HBCU Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health. “This is also the first time nurses have been included in this initiative,” said Dr. Tilghman.

Graduates of the DNP program are also making history. Jennifer Pope was awarded a doctor of nurse practitioner degree in December 2016, becoming the first alumnae to receive all three degrees – undergraduate, graduate and doctorate from the university. Pope chose Coppin because she knew the program was going to be rigorous, and “that the resources would be in place to ensure my success.” Admittedly,” she added, “there were two more incentives a Maryland Higher Education scholarship for nurse faculty and the DNP’s chairperson, Dr. Joan Tilghman. Jennifer gives back to her alma mater as a master’s/Family Nurse Practitioner faculty member.

Jennifer Pope is the first student to receive all three nursing degrees from Coppin.

Dr. Tilghman is devoted to the success and expansion of the DNP program. She has been funded to develop and execute a BSN to DNP degree program that will promote a seamless transition for nursing students to enter a doctoral program after earning their baccalaureate degree. “We have also been funded to develop a dual degree through an HBCU DNP/Ph.D. dual degree consortium.” The project goal is to develop and plan for implementation of a five-year Ph.D./DNP dual degree utilizing shared resources. The preparation will take place during 2020-2022 and includes Morgan State University’s Ph. D in nursing program and Coppin’s DNP program. “I envision the HBCU Consortium to evolve into a program that includes other HBCUs with nursing programs,” said Dr. Tilghman.

The degree offers a seven-week semester option on Fridays and Saturdays, and there is an online curriculum. 

To learn more about Coppin’s DNP program call 410-951- 3980 to speak to an admissions coordinator.