DNP Frequently Asked Questions
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DNP Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program?
  2. What is the focus of the DNP program?
  3. Are there different curriculums for students coming into the DNP program having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) versus a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)?
  4. Will the College of Nursing assist me with finding a residency site?
  5. What are the qualifications for a Preceptor/Mentor?
  6. Why would I choose a DNP when an MSN is acceptable in practice?
  7. I am an NP and already have my MSN so why should I return for a DNP?
  8. I am a nursing administrator, why would I need a DNP?
  9. I am an MSN in nursing education, would a DNP degree benefit me?
  10. 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?
  11. I have an MSN and I am a licensed and credentialed APRN. I would like to seek a second certification while getting my DNP, is this possible?

What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program?

The DNP program is the highest level of clinical practice education, including the implementation of evidence into practice to improve patient and practice outcomes.

What is the focus of the DNP program?

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. DNP students complete 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.

Are there different curriculums for students coming into the DNP program having a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) versus a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)?

Yes. There are two program options (please see below for the specific program descriptions):

  1. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to DNP
  2. Post-Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP

BSN-DNP: The student will complete a minimum of 70 graduate nursing credit hours and is expected to complete a minimum of 600 clinical practice (residency) hours at one or more practice sites under the supervision of an experienced preceptor. The BSN-DNP student will select a population of focus for their study:

  • Adult-Geriatric Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care
  • Family Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Acute Care
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care
  • Women's Health Nurse Practitioner - Primary Care
  • Leadership - Population Health and Healthcare Systems

In addition, the BSN-DNP is required to attend six "intensives". An intensive is a three-day seminar on campus offering training and experiences that cannot otherwise be offered on-line.

MSN-DNP: The student will complete a minimum of 33 graduate nursing credit hours and will need to provide evidence of residency or practicum hours obtained in their previous graduate program. Additional residency hours (if needed) will be determined by the College of Nursing (CON). The MSN-DNP does not select a population of focus. The MSN-DNP student is required to attend two "intensives" at the beginning and at the end of the program (Intensive #1 and #6); however, a student is welcome to attend any or part of Intensive #2-5 to review or enhance their skills.

All DNP students develop a final clinical scholarship project in collaboration with an agency, usually focused on a quality improvement, education, or legislative issues to improve processes, patient outcomes, or nursing practice. DNP residency hours are acquired throughout work on the clinical scholarship project, simulation and other training that assists the student in becoming an expert in their area of interest.

Will the College of Nursing assist me with finding a residency site?

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.

What are the qualifications for a Preceptor/Mentor?

  • All preceptors must have at least one-year experience in their role.
  • All preceptors must be licensed and credentialed within the state of the practice site
  • At least half of the acquired residency hours must be with an APRN.
  • All preceptors must complete a "Preceptor Agreement" and be approved by the residency faculty, area emphasis coordinator, or PGC/DNP program director.

Why would I choose a DNP when an MSN is acceptable in practice?

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.

I am an NP and already have my MSN so why should I return for a DNP?

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-prepared to fully implement into practice much of the science developed by nurse researchers prepared in PhD, DNS, and other research-focused doctorates (AACN, 2017).

I am a nursing administrator, why would I need a DNP?

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 DNP program is designed to enhance your understanding of the DNP role, social determinants of health, epidemiology, healthcare informatics, quality improvement, leadership, healthcare economics and health policy.

I am an MSN in nursing education, would a DNP degree benefit me?

There are many factors building momentum for change in nursing education at the graduate level. These 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 demanding 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). The MSN in nursing education is encouraged to enhance learning through the exploration of new technologies or other modalities. Implementing higher learning alternatives and understanding outcome measures will improve training for all healthcare providers.

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?

Yes. We have a post-graduate certificate (PGC) 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 years to obtain. We also have a plan of study that incorporates the PGC while completing the DNP academic degree. This will require about three years, however, after year two, you will be eligible for board-certification leaving your third year to focus on your clinical scholarship project. You will also be required to attend other intensives related to courses needed for the certificate.

I have an MSN and I am a licensed and credentialed APRN. I would like to seek a second certification while getting my DNP, is this possible?

Yes. We have a post-graduate certificate (PGC) to include the diagnosis and management courses and required residency hours. A minimum of 18 credit hours is needed for a PGC. An individualized plan of study would be developed for you to meet the minimum credit and residency hours for your new population of focus. You may qualify for some residency credit based on your APRN role, education and training. The area emphasis coordinator and the PGC/DNP director determine residency credit. We have a plan of study that incorporates the PGC while completing the DNP academic degree. This will require about three years, however, in year two, you will be eligible for board-certification leaving your third year to focus on your clinical scholarship project. You will also be required to attend other intensives related to courses needed for the certificate.