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Online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Connecticut

In 2015, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reported that 517 Connecticut nurses were enrolled in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs. Many of these students are RNs enrolled in BSN-to-DNP programs, preparing to join the 4,279 advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) practicing in Connecticut as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists or clinical nurse specialists, and distinguishing themselves with the ultimate terminal practice focused nursing degree available. Others are existing APRNs in post-master’s programs preparing for executive or clinical leadership positions, furthering their expertise in their existing APRN role, or adding an additional patient population focus or specialty.

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Featured DNP Programs:

Connecticut’s RNs and APRNs attending the state’s six DNP programs have tended to be homogenous – white, female, non-veterans who are MSN-educated. Recently, the state’s Health Resources and Services Administration gave a grant of $652,000 to Quinnipiac University’s DNP program. This grant is intended to support and encourage underrepresented students – Hispanics, males and veterans – in the school’s DNP program. This will also encourage BSNs to pursue the DNP to future proof their credentials, bucking the trend of pursing an MSN as the final step in nursing education and career progression.

Earning a DNP often leads to leadership and advisory positions within nursing advocacy groups, educational institutions, and healthcare institutions, similar to the positions listed below:

  • Elizabeth M.B. Visone, DNP, ANP-BC, FNP-BC, APRN: Connecticut Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Society, President
  • Bernadette Thomas, DNP: Community Health Center of Clinton, Chief Nursing Officer
  • Audrey Beauvais, DNP, MBA: Fairfield University School of Nursing, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies
  • Susan D’Agostino, DNP, APRN: Northeast Medical Group, Yale-New Haven Health, Hamden, Internal Medicine Healthcare Provider

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Connecticut

A DNP program must provide students with at least 1000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours, and allow them to specialize in one of the areas listed below, in order to earn Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accreditation:

  • An advanced practice registered nursing direct care role (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist or nurse midwife)
  • A focus on aggregate, systems, or organizations (in preparation for roles in leadership, executive nursing and healthcare policy or advocacy)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is available to RNs who hold a BSN or MSN:

  • BSN-DNP programs offer RNs who have completed BSN requirements the chance to fulfill the requirements for an MSN, and then seamlessly transition into earning a DNP. BSN-DNP students can achieve initial advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) certification and licensure through these program, or opt for a systems or organizational leadership track in an area like administration or informatics.
  • MSN-DNP programs offer RNs who have already completed MSN requirements the chance to fulfill the requirements for a DNP. Because RNs with an MSN may already be certified in an APRN area, they may opt to seek advancement in their current APRN role, or to add another certification in an additional specialty or patient population focus. These programs are also available in tracks that support careers in executive leadership, healthcare policy, public health, informatics and more.

RNs and APRNs often choose the flexibility of online DNP programs. Online DNP programs do require students to satisfy clinical requirements in-person at a participating facility that collaborates with the school.

DNP programs in Connecticut, whether campus-based and online, follow one of the following timeline formats:

  • Traditional DNP programs average 18 to 24 months to complete
  • Accelerated DNP programs average 12 months to complete
  • Part-time DNP programs average 30 to 36 months to complete

Nursing schools typically have the same type of curriculum for DNP programs, regardless of the timeline or delivery format:

  • DNP core – Core courses of the DNP program, such as:
    • Nursing science in practice
    • Healthcare quality and informatics
    • Management and leadership
    • Quantitative methods and biostatistics
  • Specialty courses – Specific to APRN role and patient population focus or specific to one of the aggregate/systems/organizational tracks
  • Final project DNP programs typically include a final project, in which DNP students demonstrate their knowledge and proficiency in their specialty area or within advanced practice registered nursing. DNP projects will use the evidence of what they have learned in a written paper, which may be published, and through an oral presentation.

Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses

A BSN-DNP program permits RNs who have earned their BSN to earn their MSN and DNP credits in one progressive and streamlined program. Students first complete MSN course requirements, then transition to DNP coursework. BSN-DNP programs typically take about four years to complete.

The MSN section of a BSN-DNP program usually focuses on a specialized APRN role, though programs are available in aggregate, systems, organizational tracks in areas like administration and informatics. A minimum of 500 clinical practice hours is incorporated.

Advanced practice registered nursing core courses would cover:

  • Advanced health assessment
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Advanced physiology and pathophysiology

Additional, specialized courses in an APRN role will be mandatory for those who have chosen to specialize in a role such as nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist or nurse anesthetist.

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Connecticut

The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Other DNP programs not shown here may hold regional accreditation or specialty accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education:

  • Fairfield University, Fairfield
    • Also available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specializations in:
      • Family nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Nurse anesthetist (BSN-DNP)
      • Advanced practice (MSN-DNP)
      • Executive track (MSN-DNP)
  • Quinnipiac University, Hamden
    • Also available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specializations in:
      • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Family nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Nurse anesthetist (BSN-DNP) (MSN-DNP)
      • Care of populations (MSN-DNP) (offered online)
      • Nursing leadership (MSN-DNP) (offered online)
  • Sacred Heart University, Fairfield
    • Specializations in:
      • Clinical practice in health care
      • Leadership in health care
  • University of Connecticut, Storrs
    • Also available as a BSN-DNP
    • Specializations in:
      • Adult/gerontology acute care nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Adult/gerontology primary care nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Family nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Neonatal acute care nurse practitioner (BSN-DNP)
      • Advanced practice registered nursing (MSN-DNP)
      • Nurse executive advanced (MSN-DNP)
  • University of St. Joseph, Hartford
    • Program is available online
    • Specialization in advanced practice registered nursing
  • Yale University, Orange
    • Specialization in aggregate/systems/healthcare organizations

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Connecticut

With DNP in hand, Connecticut RNs will find a range of career opportunities available – from clinical faculty positions at colleges and universities, to positions in clinical leadership in APRN roles, to positions in public health and health policy, to executive leadership positions.

The following job listings (surveyed in April 2016) reflect current job opportunities and offer insight into the numerous types of professional opportunities available to DNP graduates in Connecticut, but are not intended to imply any guarantee of employment:

Director, Doctor of Nursing Practice Program, University of St. Joseph – West Hartford, CT

Responsibilities:

  • Develop and revise DNP program curriculum
  • Supervision and leadership of students and faculty in DNP program
  • Provide faculty development for DNP faculty
  • Oversight of periodic program review, including submission of annual reports and accreditation documents

Requirements:

  • DNP or PhD in nursing
  • Connecticut RN or APRN licensure
  • Prior graduate-level teaching experience
  • Administrative experience at the doctoral level preferred

Clinical Outcomes Leader, Yale-New Haven Hospital – New Haven, CT

Responsibilities:

  • Evaluate current status and needs of patient population
  • Evaluate patients’ pre-admission health status in evaluating them for discharge
  • Oversee a patient-centered healthcare environment
  • Collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure good patient care

Requirements:

  • MSN or DNP required
  • Current Connecticut RN license required
  • Three years of experience in an area of clinical specialization required

Senior Research Scientist, Connecticut Center for Primary Care – Farmington, CT

Responsibilities:

  • Oversight of all research proposal design, development, communications and delivery
  • Support, guide and serve and the leaders in the research agenda of the facility
  • Write, obtain and manage grants

Requirements:

  • MD, DNP, or Ph.D. required
  • Expertise in bio-statistical and secondary data analysis at the national or state level required
  • Grant writing experience required

Full-time Clinical Nursing Faculty Position, Quinnipiac University- Hamden, CT

Responsibilities:

  • Teach graduate and undergraduate nursing courses
  • Engage in service to the school, university and nursing profession

Requirements:

  • MSN required, DNP preferred
  • Hold or be eligible for Connecticut RN or APRN license
  • Current or recent practice in clinical nursing required
  • Applicants with teaching experience preferred

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