In a largely rural state like Kansas, primary care physician shortages tend to be the norm. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), there will be 1,930 primary care physicians practicing in Kansas by 2030; however, this number will fall short of the projected demand of 2,220 primary physicians during this time, thereby creating a deficit of nearly 300 physicians.
Fortunately, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) in Kansas may help alleviate some of the voids in primary care left by a lack of primary care physicians. While the MSN is the minimum educational requirement to become an APRN, many aspiring and practicing APRNs are choosing to purse the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), the highest clinical degree available in nursing.
Not only does a DNP set up Kansas’ RNs for outstanding leadership, administration, and specialty clinical roles (and the bigger paychecks that come along with it), it solves the problem of a lack of care throughout the state.
A growing number of Kanas colleges and universities are offering the DNP, and their efforts are paying off. A Kansas Health Institute 2017 report found that 15% of all Kansas RNs were actively pursuing a master’s degree or higher.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Kansas
DNP programs are structured as post-bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs for BSN-prepared RNs or post-master’s MSN-to-DNP programs for MSN –prepared nurses:
Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSNs – Most BSN-DNP programs offer their students the option to earn an MSN en route to their terminal DNP degree. Advantages of doing this involve being able to sit for national certification as an APRN prior to beginning doctorate-level coursework. BSN-DNP programs are also available in organizational and executive leadership tracks. BSN students must earn about 500 clinical hours to gain their certification, and these hours count toward the 1,000-hour requirement for the DNP degree. Typically, BSN students earn their DNP by taking about 90 credits over a three-to-four-year period.
Post-Master’s MSN-to-DNP Programs for MSNs – Traditional progressive DNP programs are available to APRNs (nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists) looking to advance their clinical knowledge in their existing role and patient population focus, as well as for those interested in adding an additional specialty or patient population focus certification. In contrast, executive and organizational leadership tracks are also available as an alternative to APRN-based programs.
Online and campus-based programs offer flexible options for nurses who are continuing their employment and wish to study part-time. Other students may desire an accelerated format, so they can obtain their degree more quickly. Generally, a nurse can complete an accelerated DNP program in a year.
All DNP programs have several main components. First is the core coursework that will cover such topics as evidence-based practice, epidemiology, and clinical leadership components such as transforming the healthcare organization.
Once these courses have been completed, DNP students will focus on coursework for their specialty track, whether in advanced practice or executive leadership.
National accreditation standards require that students perform at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical hours to earn their DNP. Post-baccalaureate hours obtained before entry into a DNP program in a common track can count towards this requirement. DNP students from accredited national online programs must make arrangements with their school to practice at local sites in Kansas. This entails determining which healthcare sites the schools are in partnership with. It may be possible to practice at a clinic that does not have an affiliation if the student plans in advance so the school can make the appropriate arrangements.
The finale of a DNP program is the student’s DNP Project. Such projects entail doing research in an advanced aspect of the student’s focus. The nurses must summarize their research in either a manuscript suitable for publication or a formal presentation at a conference. Employers look closely at DNP Projects, and some job ads specify a project in a specific area such as psychiatric mental healthcare. Students generally have to return to campus to formally defend their DNP Project before their professors.
BSN to DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses
BSN-educated nurses typically have the option to earn an MSN en route to obtaining their DNP degree all in one accelerated program known as a BSN-to-DNP. Earning both degrees at the same school saves time and thus enables nurses with these degrees to advance in their field more quickly.
At the master’s level, nurses typically complete 30 core credits and additional coursework based on their chosen concentration for a total of between 86 and 94 credits. Core MSN courses typically cover topics that include:
- Advanced Physiology
- Advanced Pathophysiology
- Health Care Research
- Interpreting Research for Applied Science
- Pharmacokinetics & Pharmacodynamics for AP
- Advanced Health Assessment and Clinical Reasoning
- Principles of Epidemiology
Once nurses have finished the core coursework at the master’s level, they subsequently complete the coursework for the track they have chosen.
To obtain a high-level of clinical training, DNP students typically complete at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical hours under the supervision of their advisor. Hours obtained during both the master’s and doctoral program count toward this requirement. Some students enter DNP programs with post-baccalaureate hours they obtained before starting their studies.
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Kansas
As of 2016, nurses in Kansas who wish to enroll in a local CCNE-accredited DNP program have three options. Both CCNE and ACEN-accredited programs are generally available online to advanced nursing students in Kansas.
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.
University of Kansas, Kansas City
- Available as a BSN-DNP
- Adult/Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
- Adult/Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Midwife
- Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Organizational Leadership
- Public Health Nursing
- Nursing Informatics
- Clinical Research Management
Washburn University, Topeka
- Offers enrollment in an MBA program as part of its DNP curriculum
- BSN-DPN tracks:
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Adult//Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Post-MSN tracks
- APRN-NP program
- Without ARPN-NP program
Wichita State University, Wichita
- Available as a BSN-DPN
- Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
- Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Kansas
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there were 5 DNP programs available in Kansas in 2019, and a number of schools offered routes for both BSN- and MSN-prepared nurses.
The following job posts highlight just some of the exceptional professional opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in Kansas:
Assistant Director of Nurse Anesthesia Program/Clinical Director, Newman University, Wichita, KS
- Graduate of an accredited program of nurse anesthesia
- DNAP, DNP, or PhD degree
- Minimum of three years’ experience in administrative, clinical, and didactic activities
APRN II – Orthopedics, Children’s Mercy, Overland Park, KS
- Master’s degree, DNP preferred
- 1-2 years of experience (1 year with a DNP, 2 years with a master’s in pediatrics or specialty practice)
- Current RN license in MO & KS
Clinical Nurse Specialist, University of Kansas Health System, Kansas City, KS
- Master’s degree in nursing or DNP required
- Must meet requirements for APRN-CNS licensure in KS
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.