The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) intends to transition its six Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) specialties from the present Master of Science (MS) to the nationally recognized practice doctorate for advanced practice nursing known as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Effective with the entering class of fall 2014, the following UMSON specialties will no longer accept MS applicants and will accept only to the DNP program:
The current master’s specialties in Community Public Health Nursing, Health Services Leadership and Management, Nursing Informatics, and Clinical Nurse Leader will remain at the MS level.
The current post-master’s DNP program will also continue.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the terminal practice degree for the advanced practice nurse. It integrates advanced theoretical and clinical skills for providing leadership in evidence-based practice. This degree requires competence in translating research into practice by evaluating evidence, applying research in decision-making, and implementing viable innovations based on research findings that improve delivery of care, patient outcomes, and effective health care systems.
On October 25, 2004, American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) member schools voted to endorse the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/DNPPositionStatement.htm). The position statement called for moving the current level of preparation necessary for advanced practice nursing from the master’s degree level to the doctoral degree level by 2015.
This decision was preceded by three years of research and consensus-building by an AACN task force charged with examining the need for the practice doctorate with a variety of stakeholder groups (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/pdf/DNProadmapreport.pdf). Regional forums were conducted to gain input from practicing nurses and key stakeholders. In October 2006, AACN members voted to adopt the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/pdf/Essentials.pdf). This document serves as the national guideline for DNP curriculum development and implementation.
Some of the factors that are building momentum for the change in nursing education at the graduate level include:
In a 2005 report, Advancing the Nation's Health Needs: NIH Research Training Programs, the National Academy of Sciences called for nursing to develop a non-research (similar to the practice-focused) doctorate to prepare expert practitioners who can also serve as clinical faculty members (http://sites.nationalacademies.org/PGA/bhew/PGA_044407).
In October 2010, the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released a visionary report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. This landmark report was the result of an interprofessional committee of experts chaired by Dr. Donna Shalala, president of the University of Miami and former secretary of Health and Human Services (http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health.aspx). A key recommendation of the report is to double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020. The increasing complexity of the nation’s health care environment requires that advanced practice nurses develop expanded competencies. The DNP joins other practice disciplines in offering practice doctorates such as medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), pharmacy (PharmD), psychology (PsyD), physical therapy (DPT), and audiology (AudD).
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Council on Accreditation will not, after 2015, accredit new master’s programs for nurse anesthesia. The council is requesting that all certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) programs transition to the DNP by 2022. All new CRNA graduates must hold a DNP by 2025 to be eligible for certification.
The National Nurse Practitioner (NP) Coalition, which includes the following NP organizations: American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, American College of Nurse Practitioners, Gerontological Advanced Practice Nurses Association, National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners states, “The DNP degree more accurately reflects current clinical competencies and includes preparation for the changing health care system.”
National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) endorses the DNP and has developed competencies for NP practice at the doctoral level.
184 DNP programs are currently enrolling students; 101 DNP programs are in the planning stages. DNP programs are available in 40 states and the District of Columbia (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Media/FactSheets/dnp.htm). Because this information changes frequently, check the AACN website for current numbers and locations.
UMSON evaluated many factors, including the positions of the nursing education and clinical practice organizations. Some key factors were:
While most specialty-accrediting bodies have not yet mandated a DNP to practice, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Council on Accreditation will no longer accredit programs that have not changed to a doctoral format after 2025 and will admit no new programs at the master’s level after 2015.
Scope of practice is determined by state law and varies from state to state. Graduates in the Post-BSN/Post-CNL-to-DNP program will be able to sit for licensure within their specialty.
Post-BSN/CNL graduates will be qualified to assume roles in the APRN specialty they complete (NP, CRNA, CNS). Post-master’s DNP graduates assume roles as practice experts within their current area of expertise such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, community public health nurses, nurse executives, informaticians, and clinical nurse specialists.
DNP graduates will have a different and more advanced skill set to integrate evidence into practice and to utilize policy, informatics, and interprofessional competence to improve outcomes for patients and families within the complex health care environment.
The AACN states that the DNP is the preferred degree for advanced practice nursing. The DNP is expected to become the standard for advanced practice nursing.
The DNP is a practice doctorate similar to the practice doctorates in other health disciplines such as pharmacy, physical therapy, and medicine. DNP students focus on advanced practice areas of specialization, acquiring a population perspective in addressing common patient problems within a specialty. DNP students complete a scholarly portfolio throughout their program and complete a final practice project that applies existing knowledge to address a clinical problem. The practice project is a culmination of the DNP essentials and results in a publishable paper that demonstrates the effectiveness of practice-focused projects.
The PhD is a research degree and the PhD program is specifically designed to teach students how to conduct original investigation that advances the knowledge of a discipline. The distinguishing characteristic of the DNP educational program is an intense, mentored immersion experience in practice, while the distinguishing characteristic of the PhD program is intense mentorship in an area of research by an experienced cadre of nurse investigators. The completion and defense of an original research project is required for the PhD, while the final project is the last component of the scholarly portfolio for the DNP.
Yes. DNP degree graduates are able to assume academic and advanced clinical roles. Tenure and promotion is institution specific.
Because the degree is new, there is limited information on salaries for DNP-prepared nurses.
(Requirements below are for Post-BSN/Post-CNL applicants to the DNP program. Requirements for Post-master's applicants can be found here.)
The ideal candidate will have at least one year of RN clinical experience (Post-BSN or CNL graduation) at the time of application to the DNP program.
Yes. A part-time plan of study will include courses over a five year period. Classes must be taken in sequence to assure timely completion of the program. Students will need to work closely with their advisors to ensure in-sequence progression through the chosen specialty.
Students will be admitted once a year, in the fall, except CRNA students, who will be admitted every summer.
All application materials for admission will be posted on the UMSON website by May 2013. There will be a rigorous application and interview process that involves an onsite writing exam and a critical thinking component.
No. All applicants to the DNP program will choose an advanced specialty area. A master’s-prepared nurse practitioner will need to apply to the Post-Master’s-to-DNP program.
No. This is an integrated program combining the DNP essentials throughout the student’s specialty curriculum. Courses are in a specific sequence and must be taken as stated in the plan of study culminating in the DNP degree.
No. You would need to apply to the DNP program.
No. You will need to complete your master’s degree and then apply to the Post-Master’s-to-DNP program.
Students will be eligible for national specialty certification examination after successful graduation from the DNP program.
Yes. Many of the non-specialty core courses and a portion of the specialty courses will be offered in hybrid format (blended online and face-to-face). A completely online option is not available. Students will need to attend some face-to-face classes in Baltimore during each semester.
The format of courses in the plan of study varies. Many of the core courses are offered in an online format or hybrid format (blended online and face-to-face). Most of the specialty courses are held on campus with some online support.
The number of days per semester you will have to be on campus or at a clinical site varies depending on your specialty and your plan of study. The core courses are often offered in a blended format (partially online and face-to-face) but the majority of specialty courses will meet on campus. All on campus/face-to-face courses are held one day per week.
Due to the potential for conflict, it is not advisable to use your specific work environment for learning. Your program specialty director will discuss your clinical experiences with you after admission to the program.
This is not advisable due to the rigorous demands of a doctoral program.
Many organizations offer tuition assistance for doctoral education. Contact Human Resource Centers at potential institutions of interest to learn about tuition assistance.
As students progress through the DNP program, a scholarly portfolio is completed, highlighting the various domains critical to doctoral education and culminating in a final practice project. The practice project is a synthesis of the DNP essentials and results in a paper suitable for submission for publication.
The program will be available in all six advanced practice specialty areas – Adult and Gerontological Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (Acute or Primary), Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult & Gerontological Acute Care Nurse Practitioner/Clinical Nurse Specialist, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Nurse Anesthesia.
The plans of study will be posted on the UMSON website.
You may apply to UMSON’s Post-BSN/CNL DNP program. After acceptance, your transcript will be evaluated and up to six credits from your current program can be applied toward the Post-BSN/CNL DNP. Only courses NOT used for another degree may be applied.
You are encouraged to complete the master’s program and then apply to the Post-master’s-to-DNP program.