With a projected 60 percent increase in the 70+ population, Alaska has one of the fastest growing senior population in the nation. Physical and mental disabilities limit the activities of those 65 years and older have become complicated with the shortage of health care professionals to meet them where they are. Primary care forms the foundation of care to this and other groups, yet is the area of health care that is most affected. The rural nature of Alaska makes it even more complicated for seniors to find a physician.
Training more Alaskans to be doctors will take time and there’s no guarantee that those trained will practice in primary care. Medicaid patients are among the most affected by the shortage of physicians. Another reason access to care for seniors is at such an all-time low could also be attributed to the low Medicare reimbursement rates, which are significantly lower than a physician’s usual charges. A viable solution to the primary care crisis has been the use of nurse practitioners. Although there has been aggressive opposition for the use of nurse practitioners to meet primary care needs in underserved areas, Alaskans recognize that NPs are necessary for long-term health care.
Alaska was among the first states to implement full practice authority for nurse practitioners. Registered nurses who enroll in a master of science degree in nursing (MSN) or the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) can become certified in a specialist area and practice to the full extent of their education and training and bring relief to Alaskans who are missing access to care. Due to their exceptionally high-quality care, accessibility in rural districts, and willingness to accept Medicare patients, NPs have become the providers of choice for many Alaskans. Alaska’s NPs do not have the regulatory barriers of other states, so they’re able to examine and treat patients and prescribe medications without a physician’s oversight. Those who complete the DNP program can bring evidence-based practice to patients and effect change at every level of clinical practice.
Reasons to Get a DNP
Nurse practitioners are other advanced practice nurses are a critical element of the delivery of health in underserved areas. Alaska, as a rural state, faces a unique set of challenges when it comes to primary care. From low Medicare reimbursements to the need for better compensation and specialty training, primary care professionals are not inspired to practice within the state when there are bigger and better incentives outside the state. Nurse practitioners can fill this widening gap in primary care. But the complexities of issues faced by the aging population require NPs to be trained at the highest level. The terminal DNP degree prepares nurses to meet the challenges of clinical care and use evidence-based practice to produce the best possible outcome for patients.
The healthcare delivery system has changed in many ways, one them being the role of technology in health care. Improvement of the systems of yesteryear and even the use of software and equipment to improve diagnosis and treatment increase the expectations from nurses are every level. Advanced practice nurses, in particular, might also use technology in their practices to streamline processes and improve patient outcome and satisfaction. Technology is a prominent component of the DNP Essentials as it encourages graduates to stay on top of technological advanced, research processes, and systems to adopt best practices, utilize evidence-based practice, deliver the highest possible care.
The AACN conceptualized the terminal DNP to give nurses comprehensive training for the assumption of a specialist role. The organization specifically advocates the DNP for nurse practitioners who would work independently to deliver primary care to vulnerable populations. To date, the Alaska Board of Nursing, and other state boards license, authorize, or recognize graduates of the master’s degree in nursing who have completed certification in a specialist area. In the future, the AACN’s mission to install the DNP as the standard for advanced practice could be a distinct reality.
Even worse than the current nursing shortage is the shortage of faculty willing to train the next generation of nurses. Reports suggest that nationally, nursing schools turn away thousands of eligible applicants each year due to a lack of resources, including a shortage of nurse faculty. Like the rest of the population, nurse faculty members are approaching retirement and will leave a huge gap in education. The nation’s ability to turn around the nursing shortage depends partly on the availability to capable educators. Those who complete the DNP program can assume part-time or full-time positions to alleviate the burdens in education.
DNP graduates earn more. More education and training always attract better salaries and compensation in any field. A DNP graduate has more than a few career options based on his or her specialist training. Sitting at the top of the career ladder, DNPs can earn over $99,500 annually plus benefits. Career options vary from education to leadership, health care policy, administration, and private practice.
DNP Admission Requirements Alaska
The DNP curriculum emphasizes advanced professional nursing practice, research, theory, and leadership roles in the increasingly complex health care delivery systems. Students also learn how to apply research into practice. The terminal degree is the higher degree available for nurses.
The University of Alaska Anchorage accepts applications from candidates who hold an advanced practice registered nurse license and a desire to expand their knowledge and skills to utilize research, implement best practices, and widen their knowledge and leadership skills to have a positive impact on health care policy.
Part-time and full-time study options are available. Full-time students will complete the program in four trimesters and part-time students will complete the degree in six trimesters.
To graduate from the program, students must complete a total of 7 credits. Applicants may transfer up to 7 credits from a master’s program –determined by the university based on the evaluation of the transcript. Students will need to complete 1,000 clinical hours for the DNP – up to 700 hours may be waived based on documentation of clinical hours in the master’s degree program. Course topics include pharmacology, advanced practice information, advanced nursing leadership, health economics, epidemiology, advanced practice ethics and law, genetics and genomics and advanced pathophysiology, practice inquiry, clinical immersion, and pharmacology for primary care.
Admission Requirements –Post-Master’s Entry
The deadline for submitting applications for October entry is June 15 and November 1 for March entry. The SON deadline is December 1 for the post-master’s DNP degree.
- Submit a completed SON application form.
- Submit a resume and personal statement
- Provide documentation of completing a master’s degree in nursing from an APRN program accredited by the CCNE or ACEN.
- Have an active unencumbered license to practice as an APRN in Alaska State
- Documented experience as an APRN
- Have an advisor-approved plan of study based on a gap analysis.
- Provide three letters of professional recommendation.
- Attend an interview. Scheduled by the school after it is determined that the candidate meets the minimum requirements.
Meeting the admission criteria does not guarantee admission to the competitive program. Preference is given to applicants with clinical expertise, proficiency in other languages, and a record of professional contributions. Candidates accepted on a conditional basis must provide documentation of continuous CPR certification, evidence of satisfactory health, immunity to rubella, rubeola, chicken pox, Tdap, Hepatitis A and B, and a PPD test, and satisfactory results on a criminal background check.
DNP Programs Alaska
Anchorage, AK DNP programs:
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508