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

In 2012, the Idaho Health Professions Education Council brought attention to the nursing shortage in Idaho, particularly among the more challenging advanced practice roles held by master’s and doctoral-trained nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) noted that in 2015, 66 students were studying in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program in Idaho. Of the 1551 Advanced Practice Professional Nurses (APPNs) in Idaho in 2015, some 1035 were Nurse Practitioners (NPs). While the MSN currently meets the minimum requirements for APPN licensure, more RNs in Idaho are pursuing DNP degrees to gain access to more advancement opportunities, not just in clinical practice but also in leadership positions.

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More RNs in Idaho are opting to pursue graduate degrees, particularly if they plan to seek APPN licensure. Another reason the DNP option has increased in popularity is that the Idaho Board of Nursing has proposed requiring APPNs in the state to have DNPs in order to become licensed. While the Board had planned to put this policy into practice by 2015, it is still being discussed as of March 2016.

Nurses may choose to earn a DNP online, furthering their knowledge of an existing advanced practice role and patient population focus, augmenting their clinical skills with additional areas of focus or they may opt for a track in executive and organizational leadership.

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 eithere 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 poins 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

DNPs in Idaho will find no shortage of advancement opportunities available to them, whether within the organization in which they are currently employed or within other healthcare facilities and organizations.

The following job listings are shown as illustrative examples only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide any assurance of employment. These examples were taken from a survey of job vacancy announcements for DNPs in Idaho, completed in March 2016:

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Pathways of Idaho in Coeur d’Alene – This position involves prescribing psychotropic medications and evaluating the psychosocial behavior of patients, screening and diagnosis of psychiatric conditions, ongoing evaluation of the severe and persistently mentally ill, and face to face and phone intervention are all aspects of this position.

Qualifications for this job include being a registered nurse practitioner with the Idaho Board of Nursing and certification as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. DNP candidates are preferred.

Family Nurse Practitioner at Initial Point Family Medical Center in Meridian – This position at a family practice in Meridian requires a certified Family Nurse Practitioner with clinical experience to see and treat patients of all ages.

A MSN degree is required, but DNP is preferred.

DNP Coordinator at the School of Nursing at Idaho State University in Pocatello  This administrative leadership position at a state university requires someone who can lead, monitor and develop the school’s DNP program. Responsibilities include communication with other graduate leaders, teaching online and didactic clinical courses, monitoring and advising students, and curriculum evaluation.

A DNP or Ph.D. in Nursing is required, as is certification as an FNP or PMHNP and two years of experience.

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