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The DNP program is the highest level of clinical practice education, including the implementation of evidence into practice to improve patient and practice outcomes.
The practice doctorate is for advanced nurses who are in direct or indirect clinical practice. The focus of the DNP is to provide nurses with additional education in the areas of health policy, organizational leadership/management, and additional clinical expertise implementing evidence into practice. The DNP education extends beyond the master’s level of individual patient care to a systems level approach affecting the health of populations. To obtain the DNP academic degree, students must complete a minimum of 70 graduate nursing credit hours and 1,000 practice hours (see below). Finally, the DNP student completes a clinical scholarship project to improve health outcomes of individuals, families and/or communities, nursing students and/or other healthcare providers, or in advancing the profession (e.g., legislation) through the translation of clinical research into practice.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to DNP
- Post-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP
In addition to rigorous course work, the DNP student is expected to complete at least 600 clinical practice (residency) hours at one or more practice sites under the supervision of an experienced preceptor. The student develops a final clinical scholarship project in collaboration with an agency, usually focused on a quality improvement, education, or legislative issue to improve processes, patient outcomes, or nursing practice.
Areas of Concentration
- Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
- Family Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner – Primary Care
- Leadership - Population Health
DNP Student Residency Requirements
The DNP student is mentored by an agency preceptor. For BSN-DNP students, a minimum of 600 residency hours are required. For nurse practitioner students, these hours must be in direct patient care. For leadership-population health students, these hours should be in areas such as education, health departments, health care organizations, etc., where students may lead others to improve health care delivery and health outcomes. The BSN-DNP students must attend six “Intensives” which are three days of training on-campus at various times during the curriculum (see the DNP Intensive schedule).
For MSN-DNP students, MSN credit hours apply towards the minimum 70+ credit hours needed for a DNP academic degree. In addition, practicum or residency hours accumulated in the master’s program may be applied towards the minimum 600 residency hours. MSN-DNP students will only need to do additional residency hours if they are below the 600 minimum hours. MSN-DNP students must attend two “Intensives” (DNP Intensive #1 and #6), but may attend other DNP Intensives if they choose.
All DNP students will obtain 400+ additional residency hours conducting their clinical scholarship project and simulation training (Intensive days). DNP Intensive #2-6 may account for 25-125 hours of simulation and other training (i.e.,25 hours/intensive). The DNP Intensive #1 is orientation to the graduate nursing program and is not eligible for credit towards DNP residency hours.
UMSL College of Nursing (CON) will assist students in finding residency sites; however, a student may choose to find their own preceptor and site. All preceptors and sites will need approval from the faculty member overseeing the residency.
- All preceptors must have at least one-year experience in their role.
- For the nurse practitioner (NP) student, the preceptor must be licensed. A NP, physician’s assistant (PA) with a minimum of a master’s degree, Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or other master’s or doctorally prepared health care provider (e.g., social worker, psychologist, dentist, etc.).
- For the leadership student, the preceptor can be an agency manager(s), administrator(s), social worker, educator, etc.; however, all preceptors must have a minimum of a master’s degree.
- Why would I choose a DNP when an MSN is acceptable in practice?
- I am an NP and already have my MSN so why should I return for a DNP?
- I am a nursing administrator, why would I need a DNP?
- I am an MSN in nursing education, would a DNP degree benefit me?
- I have an MSN but I am not a licensed and credentialed advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). I would like to become an APRN, is this possible?
- I have an MSN and I am a licensed and credentialed APRN. I would like to seek a second certification, is this possible?
In 2004, the American Academy of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to endorse the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing. This decision called for moving the current level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master’s degree to the doctorate-level by the year 2015. This endorsement was preceded by almost four years of research and consensus-building by an AACN task force charged with examining the need for the practice doctorate with a variety of stakeholder groups (AACN, 2017). The UMSL CON has chosen to respect this recommendation and prepare students at the highest level of training. Employers may be more inclined to hire a DNP knowing that a practice doctorate is the highest level of education and training.
You have been prepared to manage direct care to patients at the individual level. The DNP will take you to the next level in managing care at a systems level. At a systems level, you can affect more patients indirectly. The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. DNP-prepared nurses are well-equipped to fully implement into practice much of the science developed by nurse researchers prepared in PhD, DNS, and other research-focused doctorates (AACN, 2017).
The changing demands of this nation's complex healthcare environment require the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes. The Institute of Medicine, Joint Commission, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other authorities have called for re-conceptualizing educational programs that prepare today’s health professionals (AACN, 2017). The UMSL CON offers the Leadership-Population Health track to enhance your understanding of the social determinants of health, quality improvement, leadership and health policy.
Some of the many factors building momentum for change in nursing education at the graduate level include: the rapid expansion of knowledge underlying practice; increased complexity of patient care; national concerns about the quality of care and patient safety; shortages of nursing personnel which demands a higher level of preparation for leaders who can design and assess care; shortages of doctorally-prepared nursing faculty; and increasing educational expectations for the preparation of other members of the healthcare team (e.g., pharmacy, physical therapy, etc.) (AACN, 2017). At UMSL CON, the MSN in nursing education would enter the DNP program in the Leadership-Population Health track.
Yes. We have a post-graduate certificate specifically for those who already have their MSN. The plan of study would be individualized for you and based on your MSN transcript and will take 1.5-2.5 years to obtain.
Yes. We have a one-year post-graduate certificate to include the diagnosis and management courses and required residency hours. A minimum of 18 credit hours is needed for a post-graduate certificate. An individualized plan of study would be developed for you to meet the minimum credit and residency hours for your population of interest. Some residency hours from your original MSN program and possibly your professional practice may be applied towards the required residency hours for your additional certification.