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Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)


Overview


DNP Fast Facts

  • The University of Nevada, Reno offers both a Post-Master's DNP and a BSN to DNP program.
  • The coursework for the Post-Master's is exclusively online and the BSN to DNP coursework is primarily online.
  • The Post-Master's program offers two specialty tracks and the BSN to DNP offers three.
  • The application deadline for fall 2016 is March 1, 2016.
  • There are answers to other common questions about the program on the DNP FAQ page.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is designed as a terminal practice degree for clinically practicing nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives and nursing leaders in health care organizations.

The University of Nevada, Reno offers two options for earning this degree: a Post-Master's DNP program and a BSN to DNP program.

Post-Master's DNP vs. BSN to DNP

The Post-Master's DNP program is for applicants who already have a master's degree in nursing while the BSN to DNP program is for those who have only a bachelor's in nursing. The Post-Master's coursework is exclusively online (though students will need to come to campus for orientation and to defend their final project) and the BSN to DNP coursework is primarily online, with limited campus visits required each semester. Each program offers multiple tracks to choose from.  

Post-Master's students select one of two tracks:

  • Advanced Practice Nurse
  • Nurse Executive

BSN to DNP program students choose one of three tracks:

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

All Post-Master's students are required to attend a two-day on-campus meeting the first year for orientation to the program and one day on campus is required for the defense of the proposed project and the final defense of the project. The program is 30 credits and takes five semesters to complete (including one summer) for full-time study and eight semesters for part-time study (including two summers).  See this sample program schedule.

All BSN to DNP students are required to attend a two-day on-campus meeting the first year for orientation to the program and one to three days each semester for onsite immersion days. Additional time on campus is required for the defense of the proposed project and the final defense of the project. The program is 72 to 76 credits, depending on the specialty track chosen, and it takes eight semesters to complete (including summers) for full-time study.

Why Get a Doctorate in Nursing?

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has suggested the level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice be moved from the master's degree to the doctoral level by the year 2015. Because nurses work closely with individuals who have a high level of preparation in their respective fields -- physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists and others -- their educational preparation and time commitment ought to be analogous to these professionals.

Transition to the DNP will not alter the scope of practice for APNs and CNMs, which are outlined in the Nevada Nurse Practice Act.

Mission, Goal and Objectives

The mission of this program is to prepare 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. Program graduates are equipped to assume a wide range of leadership roles in both direct and indirect health care settings. Graduates of this program may function as specialists in their advanced practice clinical roles, nursing faculty, or as health care executives, program and policy analysts or systems experts.

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

The objectives of the program are as follows:

  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 health care needs of culturally and ethnically diverse individuals and populations.

DNP or Ph.D.?

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.

In contrast, 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.

Admission Requirements


Admission Requirements: Post-Master's DNP

The admission requirements for the Post-Master's DNP vary depending on which track you choose.

All Nurse Executive Track applicants must:

  • Hold a master's degree in nursing (MSN or MN). Exceptions to this will be made on a case-by-case basis and only for those students who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a master's degree in another health-related field (i.e. MBA, MHA, MPH etc.). Coursework from non-nursing master's degree must have significant content from nursing or a nursing focus. At a minimum, graduate level coursework must demonstrate a substantial study of nursing theory, research and health policy.
  • Have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher at the graduate level.
  • Have completed graduate-level course work with a grade of B or better in nursing theory, research and health care policy.
  • Hold an unencumbered license as a registered nurse.
  • Hold national certification or eligibility for certification reflective of advanced practice in a leadership role from a nationally recognized certification/credentialing organization.
  • Provide documentation of at least 500 hours of practice in a leadership role from educational experience, practice experience or equivalent course work in the area of administration, e.g., MBA, MHA, MPH, etc.

 All Advanced Practice Track applicants must:

  • Hold a master's degree in nursing (MSN or MN). Exceptions to this will be made on a case-by-case basis and only for those students who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a master's degree in another health-related field (e.g., MPH, MHA, etc.). Coursework from non-nursing master's degree must have significant content from nursing or a nursing focus. At a minimum, graduate level coursework must demonstrate a substantial study of nursing theory, research and health policy.
  • Have completed graduate-level course work with a grade of B or better in advanced pathophysiology, pharmacology, physical assessment, nursing theory, research and health care policy.
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher at the graduate level.
  • Have completed graduate-level course work with a grade of B or better in nursing theory, research and health care policy.
  • Hold an unencumbered license as a registered nurse and as an advanced practice nurse commensurate with state licensure.
  • Hold national certification in an advanced practice role from a nationally recognized certification/credentialing organization.

Required documents: Post-Master's DNP

Regardless of which track they choose, applicants to the Post-Master's DNP must submit the following documents at the time of application:

  • Application (submitted through the graduate school)
  • Official transcripts for all colleges and universities attended
  • Copies of all RN and APN licensure (if applicable), national certifications and credentialing
  • If not nationally certified as nurse executive or nurse leader at the time of application, provide copy of certification eligible for and proof that student meets these criteria (example: student will provide certification eligibility criteria and supporting documents of her/his individual eligibility)
  • Current resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation to validate current competency in nursing practice and leadership roles at the advanced practice level and the potential for doctoral study
  • A 500-word, typewritten document describing career objectives and areas of interest in advanced practice or leadership roles. Include reasons for pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree and specific interest in the University of Nevada, Reno program. The statement should describe past experiences and achievements in nursing practice, leadership and scholarship

Admission Requirements: BSN to DNP

BSN to DNP requirements also vary depending on the track. However, all applicants to the program must:

  • Hold a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN).
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Have completed graduate-level course work in statistics.

Additionally, applicants to the Adult Gerontology track must have a minimum of three years of medical surgical or two years of critical care professional experience and Family Nurse track applicants must have a minimum of one to two years of professional clinical experience. No professional experience is required to apply to the Psychiatric Mental Health track.

Required documents: BSN to DNP

All applicants to the BSN to DNP program must submit the following documents at the time of application:

  • Application (submitted through the graduate school)
  • Official transcripts for all colleges and universities attended
  • Copies of all RN and APN licensure (if applicable), national certifications and credentialing
  • Current resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation to validate current competency in nursing practice and leadership roles at the advanced practice level and the potential for doctoral study
  • A 500-word, typewritten document describing career objectives and areas of interest in advanced practice or leadership roles. Include reasons for pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree and specific interest in the University of Nevada, Reno program. The statement should describe past experiences and achievements in nursing practice, leadership and scholarship.

Deadlines and Application


Fall 2016 Application Deadline

The application deadline for the DNP program for Fall 2016 is March 1, 2016. Priority review of applications received by March 1, 2016 will take place with notification of acceptance by April 1, 2016. Eligible applicants applying after March 1 will be reviewed and offered admission on a first-come, first-serve basis.

How to Apply

Here's how to apply to the University of Nevada, Reno.

For general information on admission to the DNP program, please contact:

Dr. Stephanie DeBoor
Associate Director for Graduate Programs, Orvis School of Nursing
775-682-7156
deboors2@unr.edu

For information on any of the specific tracks in the program, please contact one of the advisors below.

For information on admission to the Post-Master's DNP program, please contact:

Dr. Christine Aramburu Alegria
(775) 682-7147
aramburu@unr.edu

For information on admission to the BSN to DNP program, please contact:

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track: Professor Jackie Ferdowsali
775-682-7219
jferdowsali@unr.edu

Family Nurse Practitioner track: Professor Shaun Hasty
775-682-7159
shasty@unr.edu

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner track: Dr. Sandra Talley
775-682-7162
stalley@unr.edu



Related Degrees and Programs

Contact Orvis School of Nursing

Phone (775) 784-6841
Fax (775) 784-4262
Location William N. Pennington Health Sciences Building
Address University of Nevada, Reno
Reno, NV 89557

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