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McNeese to Offer Doctorate of Nursing Practice Degree

April 26, 2021 | McNeese Public Relations
The front entrance of Hardtner Hall welcomes guests to the College of Nursing and Health Professions

Beginning this fall, the legacy of the College of Nursing and Health Professions at McNeese State University will continue to change lives with the addition of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in advanced practice psychiatric mental health nursing – the first such program in Louisiana. The program is approved by the Louisiana State Board of Nursing.

This new specialized program at McNeese will prepare graduates with the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to assess, evaluate, diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental health conditions for children and adults.

“Through the DNP program, McNeese will be able to educate advanced practice nurses to help address the severe mental health provider shortages in Louisiana. We are excited to get started,” said Dr. Ann Warner, interim dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

The DNP program will be a part-time, post-master’s program designed for working nurses and will utilize a face-to-face with an online component delivery method and will consist of 54 semester credit hours beyond the master’s degree in nursing. 

Dr. Tari Dilks, professor of nursing and graduate nursing department head, will lead the program. Dilks has over two decades of education experience and has served as an advocate for the awareness of psychiatric mental health issues on the local, state and national levels. She currently serves as an expert consultant on mental health to the University of Louisiana System and its member schools.

According to the Rural Health Information Hub 2021 data, 100% of Louisiana parishes are Health Professional Shortage Areas in mental health. 

“There are simply not enough providers available to meet the mental health needs of our great state, especially those providers who can prescribe psychotropic medications to obtain mental fitness for the residents of Louisiana,” said Dilks.

“This program is the first DNP program in our state to focus specifically on psychiatric mental health advanced practice nurses and the needs of the people of Louisiana,” she pointed out. “Graduate projects must be in the field of mental health and identify problem areas that psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners can impact.”

McNeese’s graduate nursing program consistently sees 100% of its nurse practitioner graduates pass their national certification exams, which tests the competency of nursing school graduates in the U.S.

“The mission of the university is to change lives and our DNP program will do just that for the mental health needs our people need in our state,” said Dilks.

June 15 is the application deadline for the first DNP that starts Aug. 16 Interested students can apply for fall 2021 admission at For more information, contact Stephanie Lavoi at 337-475-5753 or