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

Both bachelor’s and master’s prepared nurses may seek a Doctor of Nursing Practice, the highest clinical practice-focused degree available, as a path to APRN licensure, to further expertise in an existing APRN role and patient population focus, qualify for nursing leadership roles, and enjoy an increased number of opportunities in administration and executive leadership. DNP-prepared nurses may choose to move up the ranks at their current position or seek new opportunities in hospitals, clinics, and universities. With the opportunity for salary increases and greater job versatility, earning a doctorate degree has become an inevitable next step for Georgia’s bachelor’s and master’s-prepared nurses with sites set on career progression.

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Over the past decade, the U.S. has experienced a massive shortage of primary care providers, and Georgia is no exception. Georgia is in need of qualified, doctorate-prepared professionals capable of serving as primary care providers, to take on leadership roles both in and out of the clinical environment, and to fill faculty positions at universities and nursing schools. As early as 2007, The Georgia Board of Regents Task Force on Health Professional Education called nursing “the most fragile and in need of attention of all medical professions in the state,” highlighting the need for more highly educated nurses in the workforce.

The shortage of qualified nurses is not expected to end soon. In fact, The University System of Georgia’s Center for Health Workforce Planning and Analysis reported that by 2030, it’s likely that Georgia will experience a shortage of 50,000 nurses. In 2010, a profile of Georgia’s RN workforce published by the University System of Georgia noted that nursing programs were significantly concerned about a decrease in enrollment due to a shortage of faculty. The Georgia Nurses Association noted that this shortage of faculty, combined with a rapidly retiring workforce, has left Georgia more in need of qualified nurses than ever.

In 2015, out of 12,669 enrolled students in nursing programs throughout Georgia and 4,498 graduates across all program levels, 312 graduates held DNP degrees.

DNP program graduates in Georgia go on to fill positions of influence with state nursing associations, nursing alliances, and hospital boards:

  • Marguerite Murphy, DNP, RN—DNP Program Traditional and Acute Care Director at Augusta University, Georgia
  • Aimee Manion, DNP, RN-BC, CMSRN, PBDS—Facilitator/Nurse Educator, Atlanta VA Medical Center
  • Lisa Robinson, DNP, MSN, BSN—Professor at University of West Georgia

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Georgia

Both bachelor’s and master’s-prepared nurses may enter a Doctor of Nursing Practice program through different program tracks. The two program options are:

BSN-DNP Programs—bachelor’s-prepared nurses may enroll in BSN-DNP programs, which will allow them to first complete a master’s and then a doctorate degree over 3-4 years of full time study.

MSN-DNP Programs—master’s-prepared nurses may enroll in MSN-DNP programs, which are generally 18 months long. If the nurse is seeking a DNP in a different population focus than their master’s study, the program will require additional credits and time.

All accredited DNP programs in Georgia have received accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In order to meet requirements for accreditation, programs must include a minimum of 1,000 post-baccalaureate practice hours and offer specialization in at least one of two areas: an advanced practice nursing direct care focus, or an aggregate, systems, or organizational focus. If a nurse has completed clinical hours in the same area of focus during a master’s program, these hours may be applied to the 1,000 total required. However, some nurses have found it necessary to complete independent clinical hours outside of the program in order to reach the required number of hours.

As of April 2016, Georgia offers four in-state CCNE-accredited DNP programs. In addition, nurses in Georgia may also choose from a variety of accredited online DNP offerings hosted throughout the county. Online options will allow nurses to complete online problem modules at their own pace, while logging clinical hours in Georgia hospitals and physician’s offices which partner with the hosting university. Online DNP programs offer increased flexibility around a professional schedule.

Most DNP programs are offered in three tracks:

  • Traditional, 18-24 months
  • Accelerated, 12 months long
  • Part-time, 2 ½ years

While individual requirements may vary, all accredited DNP programs must include the following components:

  • DNP Core: Core courses will cover scientific foundations for heath and evidence-based practice, as well as social determinants of population health, leadership in health care, and epidemiology.
  • Specialty Area Courses: Depending on the nurses’ chosen focus, these courses will specialize in the APRN practice focus or an aggregate, systems, or organizational focus.
  • DNP Project: the final project usually consists of a written paper and presentation on the nurses’ study focus.

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

Bachelor’s-prepared nurses may apply to BSN-DNP programs, the most direct route for bachelor’s-prepared nurses to earn DNP credentials. Within the program, nurses will first complete master’s coursework and then move on to the doctorate program. In most programs of this sort, graduates end up with both an MSN and DNP.

The master’s level program usually consists of 30 core credits as well as additional credits in the nurses’ chosen focus.

Core courses will vary according to program, but will cover a combination of these topics:

  • Theory, Scientific Underpinnings, and Evidence Based Practice
  • Leadership and Management in Practice Transformation
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Health Care Management
  • Population Health and Emerging Disease
  • Interprofessional Collaboration and Leadership in Health Care
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Strategies for Effective Practice Change
  • Advanced Topics in Health Informatics

MSN programs with an APRN focus will also include an APRN core, covering the following topics:

  • Advanced Practice Diagnostic and Clinical Reasoning
  • Advanced Practice Pharmacology
  • Advanced Practice Pathophysiology
  • Advanced Practice Assessment and Diagnosis
  • Advanced Practice Nursing Theory
  • Local and Global Perspectives in Population Health

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs in Georgia

CCNE accredited DNP programs available in Georgia as of 2016 are shown here. (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):

  • Augusta University, Augusta
    • Offers BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP
    • Specializations in:
      • Adult Gerontology Acute Care
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
      • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Georgia College, Milledgeville
    • APRN specialization
  • Georgia Southern University, Statesboro
    • Offers BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP
    • APRN Specialization
  • Mercer University, Macon
    • Specializations in:
      • APRN
      • Nurse Executive/nurse administrator
  • Georgia State University
    • Offers MSN-DNP
    • Specializations in:
      • Management
      • Nurse Leadership

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Georgia

DNP-prepared nurses are highly qualified to move into leadership positions at their current workplaces or seek new employment opportunities in Georgia’s many hospitals, integrated health systems and managed care organizations. Granting nurses the ability to fill clinical or faculty positons, the DNP is a versatile degree.

The following job listings for doctorate-prepared nurses in Georgia were surveyed in April 2016. (Job vacancy announcements are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide any assurance of employment.)

Chief Nurse Executive at East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta, GA

Requirements:

  • MSN required, DNP or PhD preferred
  • Three years’ experience as upper level administrator
  • Experience in psychiatric mental health nursing

Responsibilities:

  • Supervise the departments of nursing for the department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities
  • Manage nursing employees’ functions and maintain employee statistics
  • Evaluate program effectiveness and implement quality improvements

Chief Nursing Officer, WellStar Keenestone Hospital in Marietta, GA

Requirements:

  • MSN required, DNP or PhD preferred

Responsibilities:

  • Develop, organize and oversee nursing within the hospital
  • Provide direction for patient care services
  • Implement models of care
  • Maintain active membership of the patient care team

Assistant Director of Nursing at Manor Care Health Services in Decatur, GA

Requirements:

  • BSN required, MSN/DNP preferred

Responsibilities:

  • Oversee care management of patients
  • Conduct assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation
  • Ensure accurate communication among all team members

Nursing Faculty at Argosy University in Atlanta, GA

Requirements:

  • MSN required, DNP or PhD preferred
  • 3-5 years of teaching experience

Responsibilities:

  • Classroom instruction on nursing topics
  • Assisting students towards program completion
  • Promoting academic programs of the university

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