Calls from several influential healthcare organizations to dramatically increase the number of nurses with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are being heeded in Louisiana. The number of licensed RNs and APRNs in Louisiana who were enrolled in DNP programs increased by 62% between 2013 and 2014 according to the Nursing Education Capacity and Nursing Supply in Louisiana 2014 report published by the Louisiana Center for Nursing.
Earning a DNP allows nurse practitioners and other APRNs to distinguish themselves with the highest practice focused degree available, preparing them for evidence-based practice based on the latest research in nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that 376 Louisiana residents were enrolled in DNP programs as of the fall of 2015. The number of nurses in Louisiana who were enrolled in DNP programs exceeded those in PhD programs by more than 15-fold that year.
An influential 2010 report published by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation advocated doubling the number of nurses with a DNP by 2022. In Louisiana, the number of licensed RNs and APRNs in the state with a DNP increased by 403% between 2010 and 2014. In addition, the AACN has gone so far as to recommend that all advanced practice registered nurses hold a DNP as the minimum licensing requirement.
Several DNP programs in Louisiana are designed specifically for APRNs with a master’s degree to increase their level of education to the doctorate level. These are in addition to the DNP programs that incorporate both master’s and doctoral level coursework specifically designed as a point of entry for nurses with a BSN looking to enter advanced practice as DNP-level nurses.
The number of APRNs in specialized clinics in Louisiana has been increasing dramatically in recent years according to the Louisiana Center for Nursing. In particular, the number of APRNs employed in HIV/AIDS clinics increased by 60% between 2013 and 2014, while those in medical clinics increase by 54% over the same period. Nurse practitioners and other APRNs who possess a DNP are particularly well suited to practice as advanced clinicians.
DNP-educated nurses are advancing the state of healthcare in Louisiana through positions in leadership and academia:
- Herbert Druilhet, DNP, FNP-BC – Director of Clinical Operations at Lafayette General Health-LGMD Physician Group
- Scharmaine Baker, DNP, FNP-BC, FAANP – CEO of DrBakerNP – Advanced Clinical Consultants
- Luanne Billingsley, DNP, MBA, APRN, PMP, CPHQ – Assistant Professor at Southeastern Louisiana University School of Nursing
- Britanny Tucker, DNP, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Louisiana Behavioral Specialists, LLC
- Gerren C. Wilson, DNP, APRN, PMHNP-BC – Education, Southeastern Louisiana University
- Sabrina M. White, DNP – Heart Failure/Heart Transplant Nurse Practitioner – East Jefferson General Hospital
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Louisiana
Nurses in Louisiana who wish to enroll in a DNP program typically hold at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In addition, nurses who already possess a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can apply to the post-MSN phase at most of the DNP programs in Louisiana.
- Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs are generally designed for nurses with a BSN to earn their MSN before transitioning to a DNP, all in one program. Those in an APRN track would obtain national certification in their role and primary patient population focus as well as initial APRN licensure prior to transitioning to the DNP component of the program. Typically BSN-DNP programs entail more than 3 years of full-time study and about 90 credits, depending on the specialty. Tracks in organizational leadership, informatics and more are also available.
- Post-Master’s MSN-to-DNP programs are designed for nurses that already possess an MSN. These programs enable these students to earn their DNP so they are better equipped to advance to clinical leadership positions and more. Often MSN-educated students are already licensed APRNs who wish to advance in their careers. Nurses in these programs can advance in their patient population focus or choose another specialty or population focus. Typically, MSN-DNP programs entail more than 1.5 years of full-time study and 30 to 36 credits. Tracks in organizational leadership, informatics and more are also available.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) maintains two main requirements for accreditation: One is that the program incorporates at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practice hours, 500 of which can be carried over from a master’s program. The other is that the schools must offer their students the option to specialize in at least one of these tracks:
- Advanced practice nursing direct care focus (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist)
- Aggregate/organizational/systems focus (i.e., health policy, executive leadership, etc.)
Increasingly, nurses in Louisiana are choosing the flexibility of accredited online programs as the preferred option when obtaining a DNP. While these programs offer their coursework online, students must still complete their clinical requirements at local partner sties that have established agreements with the programs.
Many online and campus-based DNP programs offer flexible formats to accommodate their student’s needs. These include part-time and accelerated formats:
- Traditional DNP programs entail about 1.5-2 years of study
- Part-time DNP programs take about 2.5 years of study
- Accelerated programs are usually completed in a year
DNP programs have three main components:
- DNP core – The core DNP courses include such topics as transforming the healthcare organization, clinical scholarship, methods for evidence-based practice, epidemiology and social determinants of population health, and scientific underpinnings for practice.
- Specialty courses in the student’s chosen focus – After completing their core courses, the nurses specialize in either advanced practice nursing or executive leadership.
- Final project – Students complete their DNP program with a DNP Project, which entails completing a research project on their advanced nursing focus. These projects enable the nurses to showcase their education by analyzing an aspect of nursing in practice. Typically, a DNP Project consists of a research paper suitable for publication or a formal presentation. Generally students must travel to their school to formally defend their DNP Project.
Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses
Virtually all of the BSN-to-DNP programs available enable nurses to earn both their MSN and DNP in a combined program. Students can immediately transition to the DNP program after completing the MSN phase. These programs are typically completed in about 3 to 4 years.
BSN-DNP programs that are specific to one of the four APRN roles (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetist, or nurse-midwife) require their students to earn an MSN in their chosen advanced practice nursing role and patient population focus. To do so, students must meet all of the clinical requirements for an MSN, which typically entails about 500 hours of clinical sequences. Completing these hours qualifies the students to sit for national certification in their role and patient population focus.
Tracks in organizational leadership, informatics and more are also available.
Although MSN program course content varies depending on the nursing specialty that the student has chosen, the core remains the same:
- Program evaluation for improving patient and population outcomes
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Quality and safety
- Organizational and systems leadership
- Policy and advocacy
- Evidence-based practice
- Clinical prevention/population health
MSN programs in an APRN role also include a core consisting of these courses:
- Advanced pharmacology, including:
- Pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents
- Advanced physiology/pathophysiology, including general principles that apply across the lifespan
- Advanced health assessment, including the assessment of all human systems, advanced assessment techniques , and concepts and approaches
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Louisiana
The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both CCNE and ACEN-accredited programs are generally available online to advanced nursing students in Louisiana.
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.
Louisiana State University, New Orleans
- Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
- Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
- Executive Nurse Leader
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Anesthesia
- Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner
- Public/Community Health Nursing
Loyola University, New Orleans
- Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
- Specialty in Family Nurse Practitioner
- Post-MSN program also offers an Executive Nurse Leader specialty
Northwestern State University, Natchitoches
- Post-MSN program designed for:
- Organizational System Leadership
Southeastern Louisiana University, Baton Rouge
- BSN-DNP in Family Nurse Practitioner
- Post-MSN program designed for:
- Nurse Executives
University of Louisiana, Lafayette
- Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
- Post-MSN program available for MSN-educated nurses in:
- Nurse Practitioner Roles
- Nursing Administration/Leadership
Southern University, A&M College
- Nurse Practitioner Roles
- Certified Nurse Midwife
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Louisiana
DNP-educated nurses have a variety of opportunities available to them in Louisiana depending on their specialty. Many nurses such as those who became DNP-level nurse practitioners continue with their current employer, but advance to higher paying positions in clinical leadership, administration and more. Other such NPs become entrepreneurs by opening up their own practices or by providing consulting services. Nurses who specialized in a systems/organizational leadership track have no shortage of options available to them.
Academic institutions now frequently prefer nurses educated at the doctorate level. In fact, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools requires that at least 25% of the nursing course hours in a BSN program be taught by doctorate-level faculty. The Louisiana Center for Nursing reported a 63% increase in the number of DNP-educated faculty teaching at pre-RN licensure programs in the state over a three-year period in its report on Nursing Education Capacity and Nursing Supply in Louisiana 2014. This publication noted that Deans and Directors of nursing schools reported 26 vacant nurse faculty positions in 2014.
The aging and subsequent retirement of many of the country’s nurse faculty members should open up even more vacancies. At the time of the report, 136 of the faculty teaching in Louisiana’s pre-RN licensure programs were at least 61 years old, and thus, likely to retire soon.
A survey of job listings performed in April 2016 identified the following job vacancy in Louisiana. This listing is shown as an example of the type of jobs available to DNP-educated nurses in Louisiana and should not be interpreted as a job offer or assurance of employment:
Assistant Professor, Health Services Administration with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
- Tenure track
- Doctorate degree required in Health Services Administration or a related field
- Nine-month appointment
- Candidate will instruct students in an online learning environment