According to the 2017 Idaho Nursing Overview from the Idaho Department of Labor, employment in the healthcare industry is projected to grow at 2 percent annually, which is more than three times faster than the national growth rate.
However, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges, as of 2019, Idaho ranks an abysmal 49th in the country when it comes to the ratio of physician to patients. And it’s no surprise, considering that the majority of the state is rural. Some of the highest physician shortages are in the counties of Owyhee, Payette, and Canyon.
Fortunately, advanced practice professional nurses (APPNs) can fill the void caused by a lack of physicians throughout the state. And while the MSN currently meets the minimum requirements for APPN licensure, more RNs in Idaho are pursuing the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to gain access to more advancement opportunities, not just in clinical practice but also in leadership positions. As the highest clinical degree available in the nursing field, the DNP is the gateway to outstanding professional opportunities in the advanced clinical, administrative, and education nursing fields.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Idaho
Online and campus-based Doctor of Nursing Practice programs available in Idaho hold accreditation through the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (CCNE) and/or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Programs are structured as either post-bachelor’s or post-master’s programs so as to accommodate both BSN and MSN educated RNs and APPNs
- Post-bachelor’s DNP programs allow BSN-educated RNs to combine a master’s and doctoral nursing education in one program while earning national certification in an advanced practice role and patient population focus. BSN-to-DNP programs are also available in executive and organizational leadership tracks (86-94 credits).
- Post-master’s DNP programs are designed for RNs who already hold an MSN, and often advanced practice certification and licensure. These programs allow APPNs to advance their knowledge within in their current role, further and are advanced practice certified.
Flexible options are available to students interested in enrolling on either a full- or part-time basis:
- Full-time DNP students may complete the program in one to two years
- Full-time BSN-DNP students may complete the program in three to four years
- Part-time DNP students may complete the program in three to four years
- Part-time BSN-DNP students may complete the program in four to six years
The following core courses are included in most DNP programs, regardless of specialization:
- Scientific Foundations for Practice
- Ethics, Professional Issues, Policy and Advocacy in Advanced Practice
- Clinical Decision Making for Practice
- Transforming Health Care Organizations
- Statistical Analysis in Evidence-Based Practice
- Information Technology in Health Care
- Scientific Writing
- Transition to Practice
- Clinical Rotation/Practicum
Earning a DNP requires completing clinical practice rotations that total at least 1000 hours, which are scheduled at local medical facilities in a student’s home community. Post-bachelor’s hours gained while earning an MSN would be applied to this 1000-hour requirement. Examples of Idaho medical facilities that could host DNP clinical practice students include, but are not limited to:
- Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center-Idaho Falls
- Boise VA Medical Center- Boise
- Steele Memorial Medical Center- Salmon
Additionally, DNP programs would typically involve completing a DNP Project. This practice-focused project, completed over several semesters under the mentorship of a faculty advisor, allows students to put into real-world practice knowledge they have gained in the classroom.
Admission Requirements for DNP Programs in Idaho
Regardless of whether an RN chooses an online or campus-based program, the following admission requirements usually apply:
- Applicants must hold a BSN degree from an accredited program (typically graduate schools look for candidates with BSN from programs that hold accreditation from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN))
- Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) in their BSN program
- Applicants must hold a valid, unencumbered RN license from Idaho or a compact state
- Many DNP programs give preference to applicants who have two or more years of RN work experience
- Many DNP programs also require applicants to have completed an undergraduate course in statistics with a grade of C or better within five years of applying to a DNP program
- Applicants who already hold an MSN and are applying to a DNP program must show that they are advanced-practice certified in their chosen specialty track
- Applicants who already hold an MSN must also submit an official letter or transcript from their prior university documenting the total number of clinical hours they completed in the MSN advanced practice nursing program
Requirements for Gaining Prescriptive Authority as an APPN in Idaho
Idaho DNPs who wish to have prescriptive authority as an advanced practice nurse must have at least 30 contact hours of graduate-level education in pharmacotherapeutics related to a specific scope of practice. Some employers will be more apt to hire DNPs who hold prescriptive authority, so many DNPs pursue this. Under the rules of the Idaho Board of Nursing, this education must include:
- Applications and principles of pharmacotherapeutics
- Writing prescriptions
- Using pharmacologic agents to prevent illness, restore health and maintain health
- Drug interactions
- Selection medications, dosages, and routes of administration
- Federal and state laws on the possession, purchasing, administration, dispensation, and prescription of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic agents
DNP Program Objectives and Outcomes
Upon graduation, DNPs should be able to:
- Assume leadership roles in advanced clinical practice nursing
- Work with rural and diverse populations
- Integrate the principles of nursing science into evidence-based care for varied populations
- Incorporate practice initiatives to improve health care delivery systems
- Advocate policies for health care
- Be prepared as an expert in their chosen advanced practice nursing specialty area
DNP Programs Available in Idaho
As of 2016, there are two CCNE-accredited programs in Idaho. CCNE and ACEN-accredited online programs are also available to advanced nursing students in Washington, DC. 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.
Idaho State University in Pocatello
- Entry points for both BSN and MSN-educated RNs.
- Specialty tracks:
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
Boise State University
- MSN-DNP with an Aggregate/Systems/Organizational focus
Career Opportunities for DNP-Prepared Nurses in Idaho
DNP Nurses in Idaho will find no shortage of advancement opportunities available to them, whether in clinical, leadership, or faculty positions.
The following job listings highlight some of the exciting opportunities available to Idaho’s DNP-educated nurses:
Nursing Practice and Research Coordinator, Kootenai Health, Coeur d’Alene, ID
- Current license as an RN in Idaho
- BSN or MSN required; PhD or DNP preferred
- Minimum 7 years of experience in clinical nursing
Licensed Nurse Practitioner, Epi Source, Bonner County, ID
- APRN degree
- MSN or DNP/PhD
Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID
- MSN; PhD or DNP preferred
- Recent experience in teaching in a baccalaureate nursing program
- Two years of experience in online teaching
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.