The flexible Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) trains working nurses to provide primary health care in medically underserved areas to relieve the burdens left by a lack of primary care physicians in these areas. The program lets nurses with a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing prepare for an advanced practice role. As more of Oklahoma’s universities roll out the program, it is expected that rural areas will benefit from a growing presence of nurse practitioners.
The injection of primary care professionals in the workforce will not only increase access to care in federal shortage areas but also improve health outcomes. In counties where a single primary care provider serves a region of more than 3,000 residents, there is an increased risk of errors or poorer health outcomes. As the population continues to age, there will be greater demand for primary care. DNP graduates can help to improve the quality and timeliness of care delivered to residents.
While the master of science in nursing (MSN) can also prepare candidates for advanced practice to fill the gap in primary care, there have been recommendations to replace the MSN with the DNP for nurse practitioners who will fill primary care roles. The DNP will equip students with the strong leadership to become expert clinicians. Through active participation in didactic and clinical experiences, graduates will have the competency to direct change in the future.
At the conclusion of the program, the graduate will be able to verbally articulate knowledge and its application, evaluate outcomes, deliver care to meet the present and future needs of populations based on research findings, design, implement, and evaluate methodologies to promote safe and efficient patient-centered care, and lead out in the evaluation and resolution of legal and ethical issues. They are also able to advocate for social justice and set up inter-professional teams to improve health care outcomes.
Reasons to Get A DNP
Education is the key to diversity in nursing. The baccalaureate degree is the first step to lower and mid-level supervisory positions and specialty practice. The DNP is the ticket to roles in leadership, management, research, administration, and education. The terminal degree has been in existence for decades but is fast-becoming the standard for advanced practice as nursing associations, employers, and experts take their stance on better education for nurses.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is one such association that has made a distinct call for the DNP, Ph.D. or DNSc for advanced practice. A better-educated workforce, at the bedside and managerial level, will change the face of healthcare due to better patient outcomes, better policies, greater representation of nurses on key boards where decisions impact the lives and well-being of the nurses directly involved in patient care. A much-anticipated benefit of more nurses enrolling in graduate programs, including DNP programs, is the wider pool of candidates available to take up educator roles in the unstaffed nursing programs. More critical than the shortage of nurses in Oklahoma’s workforce is the shortage of educators available to train the scores of hopefuls lining up for admission to undergraduate programs. Nursing schools across the United States turn away thousands of eligible candidates each year due to insufficient resources and a shortage of faculty. These two factors impede attempts to produce more nurses to fill vacancies in the workforce. Increasing the pool of candidates who are willing to assume educator roles on a full-time or part-time schedule will go a long way to relieve the pressure on the over-burdened system.
Advanced practice registered nurses may work independently to assess, diagnose, and treat patients and prescribe. They may order tests to aid with diagnoses, refer patients to other specialists, and consult with pharmacists and other professionals in the administration of medications. Whenever the need arises, APRNs must have the ability to communicate effectively and engage on a peer-to-peer level with other professionals who may be trained at the doctorate level. The DNP program covers the essentials that will grant APRNs the acuity and confidence to collaborate with other professionals.
As trusted, credible, committed, and diligent professionals, the general public places their lives in the care of the nurses who carry out a physician’s directive in the restoration of health. They assess, develop, implement, and evaluate patient care plans, and their effectiveness will influence patient outcomes. Decades ago when chronic diseases were not as prevalent or as complex as it is today, nurses could get by with a standard education. Today, the complexity of cases, made more challenging as patients suffer from multiple complications, demands more from nurses. More than just applying their clinical skills, they must incorporate technology into practice, use critical thinking and clinical judgment, and apply research and utilize the concepts of evidence-based practice. The DNP Essentials incorporates these principles and more to give graduates the best advantage to meet and exceed public expectations and demands.
Nurses outnumber other healthcare professionals, yet they often lack suitable representation when key decisions that affect the workforce and patient care are voted upon. Increasing the percentage of the workforce educated at the DNP level will boost representation at the administrative, state, federal, and regional level, which will help to improve the lives of patients and satisfaction of the nurses who work tirelessly at the bedsides to care for them.
Health care reforms affect the nurse’s role and responsibility the delivery of the care even more than public expectation. Nurses at the bedside and those in the boardroom are doing more than ever before. The call for increasing the percentage of nurses holding a bachelor’s degree has a counterpart at the top as experts recommend replacing the MSN with the DNP for entry into advanced practice. In response, many universities are discontinuing the MSN to replace it with the DNP. Although this response should be as the writing on the wall, there’s still some uncertainty as state boards, including the Oklahoma Board of Nursing, accept the MSN degree for APRN licensure.
The uncertainty of the future of nursing, the evolution of the role nurses place in the delivery of care, and the continued call for more education can be unsettling for nurses. As employers demand more to improve patient care and reduce errors and mortality rates, nurses have to get in line to remain viable and competitive. As the employment spectrum shifts from surplus to deficit to surplus again, greater uncertainty will arise and possible displacement for those who are willing to commit to higher education to improve patient outcomes. In the light of research, employers will always choose the best-trained nurses to secure industry recognition and deliver the type of care that will set them apart from competitors. The DNP nurse is trained at the highest level of practice and has the expertise that will ensure longevity and satisfaction in the profession.
DNP Admission Requirements Oklahoma
The DNP curriculum is grounded in the 8 essentials outlined by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses. A primary goal of the curriculum is to develop experts who focus would be to promote patient safety, nurse vitality, and positive health care outcomes for culturally diverse populations.
The most common pathway for entry is the master’s degree in nursing. However, registered nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and registered nurses with a master’s degree in another field may complete the preparatory work to be admitted to the DNP degree program.
Admission Requirements – Post-Baccalaureate Entry
The BSN to DNP program is available at only two universities in Oklahoma. Northwestern Oklahoma State University is the only public university to offer this track. The program is delivered online and prepares students to function in an advanced practice role without having to first complete a master’s degree. Unlike the research-focused doctorate, instruction emphasizes preparation for practice for the delivery of care in rural areas. For programs that do not award the master’s degree, students must progress continuously to the conclusion of the program a master’s degree is not awarded to those who drop out.
The curriculum covers a total of 73 credits will 1020 practicum hours that may be completed in three years full-time or four years part-time. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to sit a national certification exam in the chosen area of specialty.
- Application and acceptance to the university
- A baccalaureate degree with a major in nursing and administered by an ACEN or CCNE accredited program.
- A cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the undergraduate college coursework
- A completed application to the DNP program
- A written statement of purpose
- A current resume or curriculum vitae
- Letters of reference
- An unrestricted license to practice as a registered nurse
- Poof of English proficiency – for students whose native language is not English
- A personal interview – conducted in person or over the phone.
Admission Requirements – Post-Master’s Entry
Advanced practice nurses devote their lives to making a difference in patients’ lives. The post-master’s DNP lets them build on their knowledge and expertise to improve their practice, boost patient outcomes, and augment healthcare delivery. This pathway requires completion of 32 to 45 credits and may take up to two years. The curriculum will cover a range of topics, including advanced practice nursing, information systems and technology, quality improvement, healthcare policy, patient advocacy, organization ad systems leadership, and evidence-based practice. Students will complete 300 to 500 hours of fieldwork (based on the practicum hours in the master’s program) to apply their knowledge in a real-world environment. Graduates will be prepared to assume greater leadership roles in healthcare organizations, utilize research to improve patient outcomes and promote a more efficient health care system.
- Application and acceptance to the university
- A master’s degree in nursing from an accredited program
- An unrestricted registered nurse license
- Certification in a specialized area
- Experience as an advanced practice nurse
- A resume that outlines practice as nurse
- A written statement of goals to improve healthcare outcomes
- Letters of recommendation
- Official transcript of all college coursework
- Liability and malpractice insurance
- Details of graduate research or clinical experience to demonstrate competence
The average rate of tuition for the DNP program at a public university is $350 per credit. Students must also budget for the cost of books, supplies, background check, health requirements, and liability insurance.
DNP Programs Oklahoma
Alva, OK DNP programs:
Northwestern Oklahoma State University
709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717
Oklahoma City, OK DNP programs:
The University of Oklahoma Health Science Center
1100 N Stonewall Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73117
Oklahoma City University
2501 N Blackwelder, Oklahoma City, OK 73106
Tulsa, OK DNP programs:
The University of Tulsa
800 South Tucker Drive, Tulsa, Oklahoma 74104