The availability of primary care providers in Colorado lags in comparison to the growing number of persons 65 years or older and newly insured individuals who increase demand for health care services. In a direct response to the unavailability of primary care in some areas, the competition for advanced practice nurses is on the rise. Rural and medically underserved areas especially need nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives to care for the newly insured persons. Since several studies link a more educated workforce to better care, registered nurses seeking to practice in advanced positions are strongly encouraged to obtain a doctorate through the DNP program. Nurse anesthetists, in particular, will need to acquire a doctorate to practice in the next decade. If the Institute of Medicine has its way, there will be twice as many doctorate-level nurses by 2020.
Currently, a master’s degree in nursing is the accepted route for advanced practice in Colorado. In the future, there may be stiffer credentialing requirements, which may or may not affect existing APNs ability to practice. As the number of schools offering the DNP program in Colorado and across the nation increases, accessibility will increase. The terminal degree prepares graduates to better cope with responsibilities that are normally flowed to a physician. Outpatient facilities account for the largest share of health care, and APNs increasingly confront cases where they must manage patients with several chronic conditions. Graduates of the DNP program are essential to the delivery of affordable care in the home or outpatient facilities. From managing the needs of healthy pregnant women to assisting with chronic pain management and providing specialized care to geriatrics and other populations, advanced practice nurses are integral to the health care workforce ability to meet patient needs.
Reasons to Get a DNP
DNP-prepared nurses are essential to the delivery of efficient health care in Colorado, especially to patients suffering from multiple chronic conditions who are transferred to outpatient facilities. The growing complexities of health care and greater access to insurance due to health care reform require more qualified professionals to meet demands. Sadly, there are not enough primary care physicians to meet demands in rural and inner city areas. The healthcare sector relies on the DNP prepared nurses to fill the expanding gap.
Continued changes and advancing technologies in the sector require nurses at every level to keep up. DNP professionals, in particular, have the educational preparation to lead out in the areas of advancing technology to train other nurses, implement new best practices based on research, and use evidence-based practice to improve patient outcomes. The DNP degree is essential if you want to practice at the highest level of nursing and provide the best possible care to patients.
The DNP is the preferred doctorate if you wish to continue clinical practice, unlike the Ph.D. that prepares students for research. Developed by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses, AACN, the degree prepares nurses for specialist roles such as a family nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, or clinical nurse specialist. Although most APNs in Colorado practice with their master’s degree preparation, the DNP may be the minimum requirement for advanced practice in the future.
With more than half of Colorado’s nursing faculty over the age of 55, there’s need for new faculty to take their place. The lack of qualified educators will hinder the state’s ability to graduate new nurses. Given that educators are essential to the future generation of nurses, the state will struggle to meet the demand for healthcare without faculty at the state’s colleges and universities. DNP graduates can take up teaching positions and educate the future generation of nurses.
Professional development is easier if you have a DNP degree. New DNP graduates practicing as an APN may not be an immediate candidate for pay increases. In fact, employers are non-committal about the type of degree if the candidate is qualified for advanced practice. Therefore, APNs with a master’s degree and DNP degree may receive the same salary. But the DNP will open the door to positions in leadership, education, and research, which will be beneficial in the long run.
DNP Admission Requirements Colorado
DNP degree programs in Colorado are targeted to nurses with an MSN or BSN degree who want to acquire a practice-focused doctorate. The student will graduate as a clinical expert in critical thinking, leadership, and policy-making competencies to create positive changes in healthcare at an individual, population, and organizational level. The DNP prepared nurse has the know-how and training to relate to other practice doctorates, such as PharmD, AudD, and MD.
The Ph.D. and DNP are both terminal degrees. The Ph.D. in nursing is a researched-focused program that emphasizes research methodology and scientific content and requires student to produce a research project and defend a dissertation. The DNP, on the other hand, produces experts in a specialized area of advance practice. It is designed for nurses who want to continue in clinical practice through the use of research findings. The DNP translates evidence into practice to improve the quality and delivery of health care.
The duration of the program will depend on the entry pathway and may be 2 to 4 years according to the routes outlined below:
Admission Requirements – Post-Baccalaureate Entry
The post-baccalaureate program ensures students acquire the volume of knowledge to navigate the increasing complexity of patient care and draft health care policies that will impact the entire healthcare system positively. Students must select their area of focus as the initial two years will cover the advance practice role in the selected area. The BSN to DNP route generally requires some classroom attendance for the MSN. The final two years will prepare students to function at the highest level of evidence-based practice. In accordance with the AACN’s requirements, candidates must complete 1000 post-baccalaureate clinical hours.
- Complete the graduate school’s application
- Submit documentation of completing an accredited BSN program with and a GPA of 3.0 or above
- Provide letters of recommendation – determined by the school
- Write an essay or statement outlining your career goals after getting a DNP
- Provide a copy of RN license
- Provide a professional resume
- GRE scores may or may not be required.
Admission Requirements –Post-Master’s Entry
The MSN-DNP curriculum builds upon the foundation provided by the MSN program and provides further learning in the areas of health policy, evidence based practice, population health, and information technology. The program is targeted to the practicing APN, who can complete the program in just two years with part-time enrollment. Following is a generalized list of entry requirements.
- A completed application post-graduate study
- Documentation of completing an MSN program
- Official transcripts of study
- A valid RN license and certification in the area of specialty
- Letters of recommendation
- A professional resume.
DNP Programs Colorado
Aurora, CO DNP Programs:
American Sentinel University
2260 South Xanadu Way, Suite 310, Aurora, CO 80014
Colorado Springs, CO DNP Programs:
University of Colorado
1420 Austin Bluffs Parkway, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
Denver, CO DNP Programs:
3333 Regis Boulevard, Denver, CO 80221-1099
University of Colorado Denver
1250 14th Street, Denver, CO 80217
Grand Junction, CO DNP Programs:
Colorado Mesa University
1100 North Avenue, Grand Junction, CO 81501-3122
Greeley, CO DNP Programs:
University of Northern Colorado 501 20 Street, Greeley, CO 80639