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

Estimates released by the Kansas Department of Labor more than ten years ago predicted that registered nurses in the state, including APRNs, would see a job growth rate of 31.2% between 2005 and 2010. Even so, with predictions of a large wave of retirements, the projected shortfall of RNs in Kansas was expected to exceed 11,350 by 2010.

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This prediction galvanized the 2005 Kansas legislature into action, and the legislators recommended that the state’s Board of Regents issue a report on what resources would be needed for the state’s higher education system to hire nursing faculty as a way to increase enrollment by 25%. This report resulted in the Kansas Nursing Initiative—a funding and matching grant program that would contribute $30 million to increasing access to nursing education over a 10-year period, which was signed into law by the Governor in 2006.

The Kansas Board of Regents report issued after the first year showed the program to be an overwhelming success. One of the components of the Initiative involved making $2.4 million available to hire additional nursing faculty and to obtain additional instructional supplies.

The first year alone resulted in the hiring of 28 full-time and 23 part-time nursing faculty members. The Initiative provided scholarships to applicants who agreed to teach full-time in a Kansas nursing program after receiving their doctorate or master’s degree. Between FY 2007 and FY 2014, there were 307 additional full-time nursing faculty hired in Kansas. Along with calls to drastically increase the number of nurses in the US who possess a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) degree, it has become much more common to hire faculty with this credential rather than those with a master’s degree in nursing.

The influential 2010 report released by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation recommended doubling the number of nurses in the US with a DNP by 2020. In addition, RNs interested in becoming nurse practitioners and other advanced practice registered nurses have begun seeking DNPs in greater numbers since the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) began advocating for the DNP to be the educational minimum for all APRN roles. DNP programs are designed to accommodate RNs with either a BSN or MSN.

The AACN reported that more than 10 times as many nursing students in Kansas were enrolled in DNP programs than PhD programs in the fall of 2015. In fact, 934 Kansas nurses were enrolled in DNP programs that year.

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
  • Tracks:
    • 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
  • Tracks:
    • 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

Numerous opportunities exist for DNP-educated nurses in Kansas. Many DNP-prepared nurses such as advanced practice registered nurses continue with their current employer, but advance to a higher-paying position. Nurses who specialized in an executive leadership track for their DNP have a number of options ranging from clinical leadership positions in tertiary care centers to becoming nurse faculty at one of Kansas’s nursing staff.

Thirteen nursing schools offered training to students in Kansas in 2015 according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Throughout the country, a large proportion of nurse faculty members are nearing retirement age. This will provide opportunities for new faculty members to take their places. For instance, the average age of the nursing faculty in Kansas in 2015 was 53, and 18 faculty positions became available between 2013 and 2015.

With the advent of the DNP degree, many nursing schools now require that their faculty members be educated at this level. In the past, an MSN was frequently the terminal degree required for applicants to faculty positions.

A survey of job listings for DNP-educated nurses in Kansas as of April 2016 is shown below. These job vacancy announcements are shown for informational purposes only and are not meant to provide a guarantee of employment:

Nurse Practitioners at the University of Kansas Hospital (OB/GYN, Vascular Services, Urology, Cardiology, Family Practice, Trauma Burn, Internal)

  • DNP or MSN required
  • Must be a registered nurse in Kansas
  • APRN license for Kansas and/or Missouri required depending on the place of practice

Director of Nursing at Pratt Community College

  • DNP preferred
  • Must have current Kansas RN licensure
  • At least 3 years of nursing experience required – 5 years preferred
  • Candidate will coordinate, oversee, and manage both the PN and ADN programs

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