Oregon’s liberal laws for advanced practice nurses, particularly nurse practitioners, enable nurses to participate in the delivery of primary care and help relieve the pressures on an overburdened system. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are registered nurses who have completed graduate-level study at the masters or doctorate level and national certification in a specialized area of practice. They provide effective, affordable patient care services, similar to a primary care physician, without any loss of patient satisfaction. In rural and medically underserved areas, they bring life-saving care to patients of all ages or specific to their population focus. The complexity of health concerns and a surge in the aging baby boomer population raise demand for health care services.
Traditionally, there are four primary roles for APRNs. However, Oregon recognizes only three roles for licensure and practice purposes: nurse practitioners (NPs), certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs). The Oregon State Board of Nursing requires applicants for APRN licensure to obtain a master’s degree as the minimum educational preparation for licensure. That requirement may change in the future as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and other governing bodies seek to produce a better-prepared nursing workforce. The AACN recommends the DNP as the minimum educational preparation for entry into advanced practice to place practitioners at the same level of preparation as physicians, pharmacists, audiologists, and physical therapists.
As primary care providers, APRNs are the first point of content in health care system. They offer an array of services such as the treatment of illnesses and accidents, education in preventative care, and continuous management of acute and chronic conditions. Oregon State is one of the few states that allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their training. The DNP program trains students in the areas of advanced health assessment, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and other areas. Nurse practitioners form a large part of the primary care workforce due to their ability to diagnose and full treat patients, prescribe medications and refer cases in accordance with Oregon’s state laws.
Reasons to Get a DNP
The shortage of primary care physicians makes APRNs an essential part of the healthcare delivery equation. As primary care physicians cross state borders into other states or move to other areas of practice and more residents gain access the healthcare through the Affordable Care Act, the need for qualified professionals to care for those in the inner cities and rural will surge. Nurse practitioners fit the model of what the healthcare system needs to fill the gap in primary care. The complexities of issues that the aging population face makes it a life and death issue to have primary care nurse practitioners trained at the highest level – as represented by the DNP.
Rapid changes in technology, science, research processes and systems affect the way care is delivered. With the changes arise heightened expectations for the health care workforce to improve patient outcome and satisfaction and streamline processes. The DNP program gives students the wherewithal to stay on top of changes and challenges within healthcare. Graduates serve on the frontline of leadership, are the first to embrace new technology, lead by example in best practices, and apply the principles of evidence-based practice. The DNP curriculum places students in the best position to deliver the highest quality and affordable patient care.
DNP graduates practice at the highest level of nursing. The terminal degree was conceptualized by the AACN to prepare nurses for specialist roles, such as a nurse practitioner with a population focus in adult gerontology acute care. While more than 55 percent of Oregon’s APRNs practice on the merit of a master’s degree, the AACN’s goal is to install the DNP as the primary means for educational preparation for advanced practice.
The nursing departments at Oregon’s colleges and universities are facing a crisis. Every year schools turn away hundreds of qualified applicants due to a shortage of faculty. The inability to produce sufficient graduates – due to a space limitation – is one reason for the ongoing shortage of qualified nurses. An upsurge in DNP graduates will increase the pool of applicants qualified to teach undergraduate and graduate students. While the majority of graduates assume full-time clinical positions, about 25 to 35 percent of graduates assume part-time positions in education.
DNP nurses salaries reflect their position in the workforce. Right at the top of the career ladder, their salaries range from $79,550 to $98,300 annually plus benefits and bonuses. The compensation is a reflection of the work they do and the level of responsibility and accountability that go with their profession. Having a DNP degree has a distinct advantage for nurse practitioners as they can earn more than $8,200 more than those with a master’s degree. DNPs receive the first pick for leadership roles in administration and education.
DNP Admission Requirements Oregon
As the highest degree in nursing practice, the DNP curriculum supports students in the acquisition of the skills to expand their practice. Extensive coursework and the AACN’s mandated 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice aid the development leadership and specialized clinical skills. The program builds on the foundation set by master’s study and further strengthens students’ capacity to use innovation and inquiry.
The AACN’s objective is to produce highly competent practitioners who are capable of advanced evidence-based care management, applying analytical processes, monitoring patients, and demonstrating leadership.
Three pathways exist to the DNP:
- The post-baccalaureate is designed for BSNs to fast-track their way to a doctorate.
- The post-master’s program gives those who already hold an MSN an opportunity to expand their practice.
- The third option gives APRNs an option to train for a second practice role and complete a doctorate.
Admission Requirements – Post-Baccalaureate Entry
Students enrolled in this option will begin graduate-level coursework at the masters and doctorate level. Some schools design the curriculum in a way that gives students the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in nursing en route to the doctoral degree. At the conclusion of 65 to 72 credits – covered in 7 to 9 semesters, students will be prepared to take a national certification exam to meet the standards for their specialty area.
General requirements for enrollment include:
- Separate applications to the University and the Department of Nursing.
- Official transcripts of college courses indicating the type of degree and date conferred.
- A statement of purpose for applying to the program and selecting the area of specialty.
- Letters of recommendation – professional or academic reference.
- GRE scores.
- Curriculum vitae or resume.
Admission Requirements –Post-Master’s Entry
The post-master’s program develops leaders who are capable of applying evidence to promote excellence in practice. The curriculum is based on the utilization of innovation and inquiry so students are prepared to identify, develop, and evaluate solutions to problems encountered in practice. In line with the DNP competencies, graduates must be able to engage in ethically based nursing practice using the results of research findings, analyze approaches to care delivery, fill gaps in professional knowledge and experience, demonstrate effective communication and collaboration to improve patient outcomes. The core curriculum requires students to complete at least 30 to 35 credits. Depending on the former education, additional coursework may be required, which will extend the time for completion.
- Secure entry to the university through general admission.
- Apply to the nursing department for entry into the DNP program.
- Supply official transcripts of all previous study including evidence of completing a master’s in nursing from an accredited program.
- Letters of recommendation.
- A curriculum vitae or resume.
Tuition at the Oregon Health Science University is $85,898 to complete the program. Students entering the program with a master’s degree will pay less – approximately $40,815 to complete the DNP requirements. Additional costs for textbooks and student fees will apply. Fees include lab fee, incidental fees, health service fee, student activity fee, and health insurance.
DNP Programs Oregon
Portland, OR DNP program:
Oregon Health & Science University
3181 Southwest Sam Jackson Park Road, Portland, OR 97239
University of Portland
5000 North Willamette Boulevard, Portland, OR 97203