DNP Programs Arkansas

Nurses who hold a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) are heralded as saviors to the profession as they can help bridge the gap between nursing leaders and nurses involved in direct patient care. The clinical doctorate keeps practitioners on the frontlines of patient care, to a great degree, so they’re in touch with the challenges of inadequate staffing as it relates to patient care and safety.

For more than two decades, the master’s degree has been the standard for nurses seeking advanced practice certification. Since 2004, there have been recommendations to raise the standard in response to the need for APRNs to work collaboratively with other professions, the increasing complexity of the healthcare system, the pressures to deliver safe and cost-effective health care, a shortage of faculty to prepare future nurses, and specialist training that requires more credit than what is offered in the master’s degree. These new requirements have forced leaders to re-examine the adequacy of the master’s degree as the best preparation for advanced practice.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) position statement called for changing the educational preparation for APRNs from the master’s degree to the doctoral degree. With support from many nursing organizations, including the Institute of Medicine, the almost immediate response was a rise in universities offering the DNP. The program is especially beneficial to advanced degree nurses who want to expand their clinical specialty knowledge. Previously, their sole option was to enroll in the research-focused PhD, which does not meet their needs for developing clinical specialties. Moreover, registered nurses practicing with BSN degree also have an opportunity to elevate their practice as the curriculum facilitates the easy transition from the BSN and MSN to the DNP. This very fact creates demand for the DNP program, as 52% of BSNs, who plan to move towards an advanced practice, prefer the DNP as their terminal degree.

The DNP curriculum prepares nurses to achieve the highest standard of practice and hone their clinical skills. It builds on the foundation of the master’s program with additional instruction in evidence-based practice, policy advocacy, leadership, health systems, and informatics. As clinical leaders, the DNP practitioners will understand and find practical solutions to the issues faced by practicing nurses.

Reasons to Get a DNP

The reduced practice status for advanced practice nurses in Arkansas limits nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives from functioning as an essential part of the primary care delivery equation. Nursing advocates continue to push bills in the state legislature that would give advanced practice registered nurses the ability to practice to the full extent of their education and training. APRNs are the key to improving healthcare within the state since the growth rate of primary care physicians is not progressing at a sufficient pace to meet demands. As the future advanced practice appears promising, it is essential that nurses be trained at the highest level to manage the complex health care issues that the aging population faces.

New and changing technologies have a significant impact on the way care is delivered. Health care administrators and informed consumers expect health care providers to utilize new and effective technologies designed to improve patient outcomes and streamline the process from admission to discharge. DNP-prepared nurses receive an introduction to the newest technologies during the program. But more importantly, they understand and have the capacity to stay on top of changes and introduce them into the care setting in the shortest time possible. DNPs are the first to embrace and roll out new technologies that improve the delivery of care and patient satisfaction.

In a 2004 AACN Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, the AACN recommended that preparation for advanced practice be moved to the doctorate level. The Association believes that the terminal practice degree has all the elements to prepare nurses to meet future healthcare needs. The changes healthcare environment demands the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise from nurses who assume specialty positions. The clear link between a higher level of nursing education and improved patient outcomes validates the call for moving the preparation for advanced practice from the master degree to the terminal doctorate degree. The Arkansas State Board of Nursing accepts education at the master’s level for licensing APRNs, but the increasing complexity of patient care, rapid expansion of knowledge, and concerns for the quality of care delivered will turn the tide in favor of the DNP degree.

A crisis in nursing education will have a profound impact on the state’s, and nation’s, attempts to boost the nursing workforce. The nursing shortage has been widely publicized, attracting lots of interest from would-be nurses. However, a shortage of capable faculty and limited spaces in programs force schools to turn away hundreds of qualified candidates each year. DNP graduates may be added to the pool of suitably qualified candidates who can assume part-time or full-time roles as nurse educators. Clinical positions offer higher compensation packages than educator roles, but the reward of giving back to the profession and contributing to the future of nursing draw many graduates to serve as faculty members in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.

Functioning at the highest level of clinical practice, DNP nurses are the best paid. With salaries that exceed $81,430 annually, Arkansas DNPs collect paychecks that reflect their responsibilities, positions, and education. The higher level of responsibility requires greater accountability to employers, co-workers, and the public. Nurses who use their master’s level training and certification for advanced practice may receive sizeable paychecks, but the DNP increases a candidate’s bargaining power when it comes to compensation and benefits.

DNP Admission Requirements Arkansas

The DNP is a terminal practice-focused degree designed for nurses who want to achieve the highest level of proficiency in the delivery of complex care. It is also beneficial to those who want to influence the healthcare system without being directly involved in patient care. The latter group may work as health policy specialists, administrators, educators, executive leaders, and public health advocates.

Graduates have the competency and expertise to translate evidence-based care into practice to improve delivery of care and measure the outcomes of plans implemented.

There are three pathways to the DNP:

  1. The post-baccalaureate program caters to BSNs who choose the doctorate degree in preparation for advanced practice.
  2. The post-master’s program is designed for MSN graduates to expand their practice.
  3. A third option is available to those who plan to prepare for certification in another practice role.

Admission Requirements – Post-Baccalaureate Entry

Registered nurses who hold a bachelor’s of science in nursing degree can enroll in the BSN to DNP program to prepare for national certification and Arkansas licensure in an advanced practice role. The prospective student can choose from one of four roles, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse anesthetist, and a selection of population focus, including women’s health, pediatric care, gerontology, etc.

General enrollment requirements include:

  • Secure admission to the university before applying for admission to the nursing department.
  • GRE scores.
  • Submission of the application fee.
  • An official transcript from the BSN program and any other applicable transcripts.
  • Current unencumbered license to practice as registered nurse.
  • Completion of basic level statistics.
  • Completion of a health assessment.

Admission Requirements –Post-Master’s Entry

Nurses prepared for advanced practice at the master’s level and MSN prepared RNs can expand their clinical skills through the DNP program. The curriculum enables them to further their clinical expertise in an existing role and patient population focus or prepare for another role/population focus or pursue a track in administration, education, informatics, leadership or other track to prepare for a career outside patient care.

The core DNP curriculum will cover 30 to 35 credit hours, and the student may need to complete additional coursework based on the selected role and population focus.

Applicants must:

  • Secure admission to the university before applying for admission to the nursing department.
  • GRE scores.
  • Submission of the application fee.
  • An official transcript from an accredited MSN program and any other applicable transcripts.
  • Certification as an APRN.
  • Current unencumbered license to practice as an APRN.
  • Completion of a graduate health policy course with a grade B or above.
  • Completion of a health assessment.

The cost of completing the program varies by university and will also depend on the total credits requirement to complete the role and population focus. The approximate cost of tuition per credit is $625 plus fees – such as student fee, lab fee, and online delivery fee. Additional costs for books, supplies, admission requirements, certification, and supplies will apply.

DNP Programs Arkansas

Fayetteville, AR DNP programs:
University of Arkansas
3189 Bell, 1 University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701
479-575-2000

Jonesboro, AR DNP programs:
Arkansas State University
2105 Aggie Rd, Jonesboro, AR 72467
870-972-3820

Little Rock, AR DNP programs:
University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
4301 West Markham Street, Little Rock, AR 72205
501-686-7000

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