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Nursing Practice, Doctoral Degree

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is designed to be a terminal practice degree for clinically practicing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and nursing leaders in health care organizations. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) suggests that the current level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice be moved from the master's degree to the doctorate level by the year 2015.The Institute of Medicine's 2002 report on Health Professions Education recommended strategies for restructuring all clinical education in the health professions to be consistent with the principles of 21st century health systems. These recommendations stressed that health science students and all working professionals develop and maintain proficiency in 5 core areas: delivering patient-centered care, working as part of interdisciplinary teams, practicing evidence-based medicine, focusing on quality improvement, and using information technology.

The UNDNP Mission, Goal, and Objectives


The UNR/UNLV DNP program prepares graduates for advanced clinical practice and leadership roles to serve the health care needs of the people of Nevada, the nation, and the professional community. UNR/UNLV DNP graduates are equipped to assume a wide range of leadership roles in both direct and indirect health care settings. DNP graduates may function as specialists in their advanced practice clinical roles, nursing faculty, or as healthcare executives, program and policy analysts, and systems experts.


The goal of the DNP degree is to prepare nurses to assume leadership roles in clinical practice, clinical teaching, and health care analysis.


  1. Provide advanced nursing care to improve patient and population health care outcomes in various direct and indirect settings.
  2. Take leadership roles in the analysis, delivery and management of nursing care and health care systems.
  3. Provide evidence-based practice through the application of analytical methods, information systems technology, and clinical research.
  4. Act as change agent, leader, and advocate in the design, implementation, and evaluation of health care policy as it affects populations and the nursing profession.
  5. Collaborate with interprofessional teams to meet the healthcare needs of culturally and ethnically diverse individuals and populations.

The Move to Practice Doctorates

Recent reports from the Institute of Medicine describe the challenge of healthcare and represent a mandate for change in the educational program for the health professions. Nurses are constantly working with individuals who have a high level of preparation in their respective fields-physicians, pharmacists, and other health providers. Nursing educational preparation and the time commitment ought to be analogous to other health professions e.g., Pharm.D., Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy. Transition to the DNP will not alter the scope of practice for APNs and CNMs, which are outlined in the Nevada Nurse Practice Act.

Ph.D. or DNP?

Doctoral programs in nursing fall into two principal types: research-focused and practice focused. Most research-focused programs grant the Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.), while a small percentage offers the Doctor of Nursing Science degree (DNS, DSN, or DNSc). Designed to prepare nurse scientists and scholars, these programs focus heavily on scientific content and research methodology; and all require an original research project and the completion and defense of a dissertation or linked research papers. Practice-focused doctoral programs are designed to prepare experts in specialized advanced nursing practice. They focus heavily on practice that is innovative and evidence-based, reflecting the application of credible research findings. The two types of doctoral programs differ in their goals and the competencies of their graduates. They represent complementary, alternative approaches to the highest level of educational preparation in nursing.

More information

Program Information

The UNDNP program is a post-master's collaborative program between the Orvis School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno and the School of Nursing at University of Nevada Las Vegas. 

Cohorts of up to 14 to 15 students will be admitted to each School each year. The program is offered ONLINE with annual meetings of two to three-days on campus for orientation and culminating project purposes. The program is five semesters long with one summer session the first year. Total credits are 39 with an ongoing change project (capstone) occurring throughout the program. (See program schedule example.)

Related Nursing Degrees and Programs

Contact Division of Health Sciences

Phone(775) 784-6977
Location Sarah H. Fleischmann Building
Address 1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno,  NV  89557-0136

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University of Nevada, Reno

University of Nevada, Reno
1664 N. Virginia Street
Reno,  NV  89557-

(775) 784-1110
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