A May 2018 article by Delaware Today highlights the growing trend toward advanced nursing degrees in Delaware; namely, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the highest clinical degree available in nursing. As the nursing field evolves and develops and nurses take on more complex roles, the DNP is a natural choice for meeting the demands of a more challenging healthcare environment.
And Delaware’s colleges and universities are rising to the occasion and offering more DNP programs. According to the article, “as the field of nursing develops specialties—much like any area of medicine—advanced nursing degree and certificate programs are on the rise in Delaware schools.”
While nurses like advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), administrators, and educators with the DNP are meeting a demand in Delaware, they’re also helping themselves, both professionally and economically. In fact, many graduates of these programs enjoy 100% employment rates.
Wilmington University and the University of Delaware both offer the DNP. UD’s DNP, which accepts both BSN and MSN-prepared nurses, prepare students for advanced roles in health systems, including nurse practitioner roles and faculty positions, while Wilmington’s DNP has tracks for both nurse leaders and nurse practitioners.
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
Delaware healthcare sector, much like many other states, will be taxed in the coming years as its works to meet the needs of a swiftly aging population and increasing numbers of people covered by the Affordable Care Act.
This forecasted demand will call for nurses in leadership roles and advanced clinical practice to replace the highly experienced nurses inching toward retirement and meet the demands of an increasing complex healthcare system.
The following job posts highlight just some of the opportunities available to DNP-prepared nurses in Delaware:
Open Rank Faculty, University of Delaware, Newark, DE
- Certified psychiatric mental health NP or women’s health NP/CNM
- PhD or DNP and certification as an APRN
Assistant, Chief CRNA, Bayhealth, Dover, DE
- Master’s degree as a nurse anesthetist and doctorate degree
- Two to three years of supervisory experience in healthcare
- Five years in healthcare management/leadership
Examples of DNP nursing positions were taken from a survey of job listings in January 2020 and are shown for illustrative purposes only. These examples do not represent job offers or positions that are currently available.