The aging population, wider access to health care coverage, and the prevalence of chronic illnesses add pressure on an overburdened health care system and complicate the process of finding a health care provider. Iowa, like other states, has taken steps to expand the nurse practitioner workforce since the current supply of primary care physicians has been unable to meet primary care needs. More than just boosting the volume of the workforce, the state legislated full practice authority for nurse practitioners, which lets nurses utilize every available resource to improve health care quality and delivery to meet present needs.
As more nurses take a step towards the Doctor of Nursing Practice, the quality of health care is expected to improve as graduates take an evidence-based approach to improve patient outcomes and the health care system in general. The success of efforts to use nurse practitioners to fill an essential gap in primary care is apparent by their overall acceptance among the population. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, a growing number of Americans are making nurse practitioners their provider of choice. By setting up practices in rural, and even metropolitan areas, nurse practitioners give patients more options and demonstrate that they are a feasible option for primary care services.
Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners (ARNPs) are registered nurses who receive advanced preparation and education through a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or DNP program and take a national certification exam in their area of specialty. At the conclusion of the program, they become eligible to apply for state licensure to evaluate and diagnose patients, prescribe medications, order and interpret tests, and manage treatment. Nurse practitioners form the fastest growing group of primary care professionals. According to the latest figures, two out of every three NPs practice in primary care and more than 80 percent complete their training with a primary care focus.
Research supports the use of NPs as a viable solution to the challenges in primary care. Several studies found that they provide quality care and high patient satisfaction rates that meet or exceed that provided by primary care physicians. Through the commitment to the “whole person,” they supply services that tend to both the physical and mental ell being and offer counsel on lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of diseases. The DNP program helps nurses develop a clear, comprehensive, and patient-centered approach to care. As they seek to understand patients, their challenges, and goals, they are better prepared to meet the needs of a diverse community.
Reasons to Get A DNP
As demand for health care balloons out of the control of health care administrators, astute patients are seeking out the services of well-trained, highly educated nurse practitioners to meet their needs. The dramatic increase in the number of DNP programs, since the AACN published a position statement in 2004, suggests that nurses are committed to delivering the quality of care patients want. They are going back to school to complete the requirements for the DNP degree. Academic institutions and nurses are moving ahead with the degree while advanced practice specialty organizations have lagged somewhat behind in the adoption of the 2015 implementation date recommended by the AACN.
Considering the emerging role of nurse practitioners in filling the gap in primary care, NP organizations have aligned themselves with the AACN’s position and are endorsing the move to the DNP for entry into advanced practice. The American Association for Nurse Anesthetist also acknowledge the efficacy of the degree and suggest an implementation date of 2025 for requiring the DNP for entry-level practice. To support these recommendations, the AACN advocates a phasing out of the master’s program to implement the DNP to prepare nurses for practice. The proposed 2015 deadline has come and gone, and it could be some years before the recommendations pan out, but it is essential that ARNPs take the suggestions to heart. Many universities still offer the MSN option, but much more are gradually phasing them out and offering the DNP as the viable replacement. Changing out the programs takes time. Implementing the policy at the state board level takes time. Shifting the mindset of those who hold fast to the MSN degree will be an upward battle. But ready or not, the future of the DNP is certain, and it is well on its way to becoming the go-to degree for prospective nurse practitioners. As more nurses emerge with the DNP, will those holding the MSN be in a position to compete? Those who enroll in the DNP program know well that the lack of a set target date does not mean that the requirement of a doctorate for advanced practice will not come.
Over the last decade, a pronounced shift in health care management left nurses assuming roles previously reserved for doctors, and support workers are taking up some nursing roles. The drive towards specialization, need to reduce costs, changes in technology and relocation of care settings outside the traditional are the main contributors to the shift. The hesitancy of physicians to take up roles in primary care creates opportunities for nurses to take up the slack. As this trend accelerates, it becomes increasingly evident that ARNPs need to up their education and training to meet the growing complexities in health care and collaborate effectively with other professionals trained at the doctorate level. Nurses in these advanced roles must have an education comparable to other health care professionals who are delivering services at the same level. The DNP is valuable for nurse practitioners who move into areas where they are the sole provider of care. Students receive training in eight essentials, which makes it easier to manage comprehensive caseloads, provide better access to care, use technology in practice, and interpret the results of research and implement the findings to improve the lives of patients.
If you plan to become an ARNP and feel torn between DNP and MSN programs, you must consider your career goals. There is a difference between both programs, and the differences may be critical to your success. The ARNP role is rewarding but demanding, and the DNP program gives students the tools they need to become expert clinical leaders in their chosen area of specialty.
DNP Admission Requirements Iowa
The DNP program supports the development of skills needed to translate evidence-based care into practice. Graduates become interdisciplinary leaders in various health care settings. They use scientific knowledge to improve safety, timeliness, effectiveness, and equity in care. There are numerous practice opportunities for DNPs based on the path pursued in the program. The opportunities include but are not limited to teaching, administration, or leadership roles.
Once you’ve decided to enroll in a program, your challenge is to secure entry. Admission is not as simple as undergraduate programs. The application requirements can be demanding and as it typically requires letters of recommendation and admission essays. You’ll also need to prepare for the interview, which can be imposing if you don’t know what to expect. Your cumulative GPA and performance in the science and nursing courses will weigh heavily in the decision-making process. Since graduate level clinical courses are intense, you need strong grades in the undergraduate clinical courses.
Admission will schedule an interview if you pass the exhaustive review of your admission documents. Excellent communication skills, a true commitment to nursing, and a thorough understanding of your prospective role will help you to stand out from other applicants.
Programs clearly define the minimum GPA for admission, but if you fall short there’s still hope. You can skill overcome poor graduates by completing a few graduate courses to demonstrate your academic ability to excel at graduate level coursework.
A common mistake during the application process relates to the letters or recommendation. Carefully consider whom you select to sing your praises. Before you attend the interview, do your homework. Review the program’s strengths and weakness, members of faculty, and the full curriculum.
Applicants, especially those entering with a BSN, should boost their experience in the field. Most programs require at least one year’s experience, which supports integration into the role. Experience is the specialty to which you’re applying will favor your chances of acceptance.
There are two points of entry to the DNP program. The post-master’s entry builds on the experience and education of masters-prepared nurses, but it also gives BSNs a fighting chance to prepare for an advanced practice role on the way to the DNP.
Admission Requirements – Post-Baccalaureate Entry
Registered nurses with a BSN may apply for admission to the DNP via the post-baccalaureate route. At the time of application, you will need to declare your advanced practice specialty area, but keep in mind the admission may be competitive due to limited space. Students with a BSN will need to complete 70 to 95 credits based on the specialty chosen. The specialty will also determine the duration. Following the completion of the advanced practice specialty, it will require another five semesters to obtain the DNP. The post-master’s core courses may be available in online format.
- A BSN or advanced degree in nursing.
- Evidence of current registered nurse licensed in Iowa.
- Completion of all prerequisite course by the start of the program
- Letters of character references from professionals in the field
- A written essay outlining your professional goals
- Graduate from a CCNE or NLNAC accredited nursing program
Admission Requirements – Post-Master’s Entry
The post-master’s DNP is open to nurses who have a master’s degree in nursing with an advanced nursing practice specialty. Entry through this route gives students the flexibility to complete many of the courses online. Applicants who have earned a master’s degree in an advanced nursing specialty will complete the DNP requirements in five to six semesters – 35 to 40 credits.
- A master’s degree in a recognized ARNP specialty
- Evidence of certification from a national certifying organization
- Complete prerequisite courses
- A registered nurse license
- Letters of references from professionals in the field
- A current resume
At a rate of $1190 per credit for resident students, the approximate cost for tuition for the post-master’s to DNP program is $41,650 at the University of Iowa. Those entering through the post-baccalaureate route will pay almost twice the cost of post-MSN students. Applicants should apply for financial aid early and take advanced of programs such as the Nurse Faculty Loan Program (NFLP).
DNP Programs Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA DNP Programs:
7009 Nordic Drive, Cedar Falls, IA 50613
Dubuque, IA DNP Programs:
1550 Clarke Drive, Dubuque, IA 52001
Iowa City, IA DNP Programs:
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA 52242
Lamoni, IA DNP Programs:
1 University Place, Lamoni, IA50140
Sioux City, IA DNP Programs:
Briar Cliff University
3303 Rebecca Street, Sioux City, IA 51104
Waterloo, IA DNP Programs:
1990 Heath Street, Waterloo, IA 50703