In 2015, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that just 26 students were enrolled in Doctor of Nursing Practice programs statewide, a number that is commensurate with the size of the state. These numbers are expected to increase, however, as nurse educators, professional associations, health policy reform advocates and other stakeholders continue to encourage students to pursue the DNP as a way to prepare for advanced clinical practice, as well as leadership roles that don’t necessarily involve direct patient care.
As the AACN points out, promoting the role of nursing science is critical to the advancement of healthcare in the U.S.
The Delaware Nurses Association 2014 Nursing Workforce in the State report found that only 1.67 percent of its survey respondents held a doctoral degree in nursing. Additionally, nearly half of survey respondents (44.39 percent) planned to leave the nursing workforce in Delaware for one reason or another in ten years or less. The report concludes that over the next 20 years, Delaware’s health care industry will be stressed as it strives to meet its population’s health care needs. The state’s aging population, growing population, increased number of survivors of chronic health care conditions, increasing number of people covered by the Affordable Care Act, and large number of nurses planning to retire in the next decade all contribute to demands placed on the health care industry. Increasing the numbers of RNs seeking a DNP in advanced clinical practice or in a systems, organizational focus like executive leadership or informtics oin the state, is vital to continuing to meet the current and future health care needs of the state’s population.
Delaware’s DNPs not only enjoy a wide variety of career opportunities, but they also find many new and exciting leadership, healthcare management, governmental and organizational positions available to them. Examples include:
- May Oboryshko, DNP, RN: Delaware Nurses Association, Professional Development Committee Chair
- Nancy Gaines-Dillard, DNP, APRN-BC, FNP-BC: Christiana Care, Trauma/Critical Care Services, Nursing Research Council member, Trauma Institute Committee member
- Megan Williams, DNP, FNP-C: Beebe Healthcare, Director of Population Health
- Kate Fitzpatrick, DNP: Delaware Division of Public Health, former State Trauma System Coordinator
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Delaware
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs at campus locations in Delaware and online are intended for RNs who already have a BSN or MSN:
- BSN-DNP programs provide RNs who have a BSN with an opportunity to fulfill requirements for a MSN, then shift to fulfilling the DNP requirements. BSN-DNP students may choose a program with a focus in an APRN role and patient population focus in preparation for advanced practice certification and licensure, or they may choose a track in an area like executive leadership, clinical instruction, informatics and much more. A BSN-DNP program of 90 credits should take a full-time student three-four years to complete.
- MSN-DNP programs provide RNs who have a MSN the opportunity to satisfy the requirements for a DNP. Most RNs who have an MSN are already certified APRNs, and they may choose to advance their knowledge in their current APRN role or to take classes to seek certification in one or more additional APRN roles. A MSN-DNP program of 36 credits should take a full-time student a year and a half to complete.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredit DNP programs in the United States. To earn accreditation, a DNP program has to offer students at least 1000 post-baccalaureate clinical practice hours and the chance to specialize in one of these areas:
- Advanced practice registered nursing direct care (i.e., nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse midwife)
- Aggregate, systems, or organization (i.e., leadership, healthcare policy)
Online DNP programs are another option for RNs in Delaware who wish to earn their DNP but need flexibility in their schedule. These programs allow students to work from anywhere. Because online DNP programs still require students to complete clinical requirements in-person, some schools will only admit students from states that are home to collaborating medical facilities.
Program Schedule Options and General Format
Formats for campus-based and online DNP programs in Delaware include:
- Traditional – these DNP programs take from 18 to 24 months to complete
- Accelerated – these DNP programs take about 12 months to complete
- Part-time- these DNP programs take from 30 to 36 months to complete
Regardless of format, most DNP programs will include the same structure:
- DNP core coursework, such as:
- Bioethics for advanced practice nursing
- Epidemiology in advanced practice
- Prevention and population health
- Politics and policy in the health care system
- Health care economics
- Health care informatics
- Applied evidence-based practice
- Specialty courses in an APRN role or aggregate/systems/organizational track:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Certified Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
- Executive Leadership
- Healthcare Policy
- Public Health
- Final project – DNP programs usually culminate in a final project, in which DNP scholars contribute their advanced practice nursing knowledge to the evidence-based practice landscape. DNP projects conclude with a scholarly paper suitable for publication and an oral presentation.
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Delaware
As of 2016, Delaware was home to one CCNE-accredited DNP program. CCNE and ACEN-accredited online programs are also available to advanced nursing students in Delaware.
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.
Wilmington University, Wilmington
Wilmington University offers a DNP with an advanced practice nursing track. Courses are offered in a traditional or online format. Applicants must have an MSN and one of the following certifications:
- Nurse practitioner
- Clinical nurse specialist
- Certified registered nurse anesthetist
- Certified nurse midwife
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Delaware
With a DNP, Delaware’s RNs and APRNs typically pursue advancement with their current employer, but may also consider options elsewhere in the tri-state area. Whether advancing to leadership roles in advanced clinical practice or roles other than those that involve direct patient care, no other credential is as highly regarded in the nursing community as the Doctor of Nursing Practice.
The following job listings surveyed in April 2016 reflect the numerous professional opportunities available to DNP graduates in Delaware. (not intended to imply any guarantee of employment)
Advanced Practice Nurse, Planned Parenthood of Delaware – Wilmington, DE
- Provide reproductive health care services to a wide and diverse population
- Provide gynecological exams, screening, treatment, counseling, and contraceptive advice
- Write prescriptions as needed
- Maintain a patient load of four patients per hour
- MSN required, DNP preferred
- Delaware APRN licensure with prescriptive authority
- National certification
Trauma Research Performance Improvement Nurse Coordinator, Nemours- Wilmington, DE
- Develop and maintain day-to-day performance improvement initiatives for trauma patients at a children’s hospital
- Ensure compliance with the American College of Surgeon’s research criteria for a Level I Trauma Center
- Analyze data to identify trends and opportunities for improvement
- Participate in training of nurses and staff
- MSN required; DNP preferred
- Current Delaware RN license required
- Trauma or pediatric injury experience required
- Knowledge of trauma registry preferred
Medical Specialist, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals – Wilmington, DE
- Present clinically-focused selling message to cardiometabolic customers and specialists
- Develop strategy and execute tactics within key accounts to generate market share
- Participate in and help lead initiatives to support sales success
- Collaboration with resource partners, clinical nurse educators, reimbursement and access specialists, and home office personnel
- MSN required, DNP preferred
- Five years of experience in clinical-based selling in the subcutaneous self-injectable biologic specialty market such as immunology, inflammation, MS, or nephrology required
- Science/clinical experience preferred
- Account management experience required
Clinical Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Delaware Anesthesia Associates – Lewes, DE
- Provide anesthesia services to hospital and outpatient surgicenter
- Work with a broad range of surgical patients including pediatric, gastrointestinal, ophthalmologic, ob/gyn, lungs, orthopedic, vascular and general
- MSN required, DNP preferred
- Delaware license as a CRNA required
- National certification by the National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) required