A primary care physician shortage of epic proportions is on the horizon in New Jersey, but if the state’s APRNs have their way, they’ll be a big part of the solution to this looming crisis.
According to a 2019 Robert Graham Center report, the Garden State will need an additional 1,116 physicians by 2030—a full 17% increase—to meet the projected demand. However, according to New Jersey State Nurses Association president Kate Gillespie, “APNs can fill those primary care needs safely, effectively and affordably.”
As of 2019, there were 9,799 active APNs in New Jersey, the majority of which are nurse practitioners capable of providing residents here with reliable, cost-effective care, something that is particularly important in the midst of a physician shortage.
Given the state’s increasingly complex and strained healthcare system and the fight for autonomous practice in the state, APNs are turning their attention to the DNP in increasing numbers. The DNP arms nurses in both clinical practice and administration with the highest levels of clinical know-how and expertise while also solidifying their role as highly capable independent practitioners qualified to provide primary care.
The DNP may be chosen as a path to initial APN certification or as a route to administration, education, or another population focus for currently licensed APNs.
New Jersey colleges and universities are also increasing their DNP programs and expanding them through online enrollment in response to the increased demand for this terminal clinical nursing degree. As of 2020, there were eight schools here offering the DNP, with many offering entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in New Jersey
Students of DNP programs focus on at least one of the following general areas:
- An advanced practice nursing direct care focus (nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife)
- An aggregate/systems/organizational focus (e.g., executive leadership, health policy, etc.)
Both RNs with a BSN and APRNs with an MSN can pursue the DNP:
- Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs allow BSN-prepared nurses to complete MSN and DNP requirements in one accelerated program consisting of about 90 credits that can be completed in 3-4 years. This type of program is commonly used as a path to initial APRN certification and licensure.
- Post-Master’s MSN-to-DNP programs allow MSN-prepared nurses who may already be certified and licensed as APRNs to complete a DNP in preparation for roles in clinical leadership, to add a patient population focus or specialization, or to advance their knowledge in their current APRN role/patient population focus. These programs would typically consist of 30-36 credits taken over at least 18-24 months.
Individuals with an interest in DNP programs are not just limited to campus-based programs in New Jersey, thanks to a wide array of programs offered online. Online DNP programs allow students to complete the required courses using an innovate, interactive online platform. Students may need to visit the campus on a few occasions to complete an immersion experience, an opportunity to meet and network with peers, faculty, and nursing professionals.
DNP Program Structure
The core of a DNP program includes courses such as:
- Scientific Foundations for Practice Doctorate
- Healthcare Economics, Financing and Managed Care
- Healthcare Policy: Legislation and Strategies
- Ethics, Policy, and Advocacy or Population Health
- Applied statistics for evidence-based practice
- Quality Improvement and Patient Safety
The DNP also includes courses in the chosen program specialty. A couple of examples are shown here:
Family Nurse Practitioner
- Secondary and tertiary prevention
- Wellness for adults in primary care
- Primary care for children, adolescents, and families
Health Systems Leader
- Ethics and healthcare policy
- Vulnerability, culture, and nursing
- Quality improvement processes and methodologies
- Leadership in healthcare systems
- Health program planning and development
Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses
In addition to post-master’s DNP programs, which require candidates to possess an MSN and, often times, national certification in an APRN role and population focus, BSN-to-DNP programs allow BSN-prepared nurses to complete the components of both an MSN and a DNP through one, structured program.
The BSN-to-DNP program, which may be offered in online, accelerated, or part-time formats, require students to first complete the components of their MSN, which include: the MSN core, all courses associated with their chosen specialty, and clinical rotations of at least 500 hours (these clinical hours are applied to the 1000 total required to earn the DNP).
The MSN core includes studying:
- Clinical prevention/population health
- Evidence-based practice
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Organizational and systems leadership
- Program evaluation for improving patient and population outcomes
- Quality and safety
Students pursuing a DNP in an advanced practice nursing specialty would be expected to earn national certification in their chosen APRN role and population focus before beginning the DNP component of the program.
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in New Jersey
The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) (current as of 2016).
- Farleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck
- Clinical leadership
- Organizational leadership
- Felician College, Lodi
- Advanced practice
- Executive leadership
- Monmouth University, West Long Branch
- Healthcare leadership
- Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, Newark
- BSN-DNP specializations in:
- Adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner
- Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
- Family nurse practitioner
- Family nurse practitioner, emergency care
- Nurse anesthesia
- Pediatric nurse practitioner
- Psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner
- Women’s health nurse practitioner
- MSN-DNP specialization in:
- BSN-DNP specializations in:
- Saint Peter’s College, Englewood Cliffs
- APRN roles
- Nurse executive/administrator
- Seton Hall University, South Orange
- Advanced practice nurse
- William Paterson University, Wayne
- Advanced practice clinical for APRNs
- Advanced practice administrative track for nurse administrators
A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits both campus-based and online DNP programs in the U.S. In both cases, these programs may be structured as:
- Full-time programs: Consisting of 18-24 months of study
- Part-time programs: Consisting of about 32 months of study
- Accelerated programs: Consisting of about 12 months of study
CCNE-accredited programs encompass at least 1,000 hours of clinical rotations, 500 of which may be transferred from a student’s MSN program. All DNP programs culminate in a DNP project, a practice portfolio, or a research utilization project, designed to document the student’s educational experiences.
Students of online DNP programs work with faculty advisors to schedule and organize their clinical rotations, many of which can be completed at partner sites close to home.
Other DNP programs in the state may be regionally accredited or hold specialty accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in New Jersey
DNP-prepared nurses serve in high-level positions in clinical practice and in areas such as organizational leadership, administration, and health policy. Whether seeking a new career opportunity or advancing to a new role with their current employer, DNP graduates are prepared to practice in highly complex, fast-paced healthcare environments.
The following job posts highlight the many exciting opportunities present for DNP-educated nurses in New Jersey:
Advanced Practice Nurse, Adult/Family Community Care Clinic, Valley Health System of Ridgewood, Ridgewood, NJ
- Current registered professional nurse and certification as an APN in New Jersey
- Master’s degree in nursing required; DNP, PhD preferred
- Minimum of 3-5 years of clinical nursing practice experience, primarily in area of specialty adult/family with clinical experience in primary care setting
Fully-Time Teaching Faculty, Rutgers University, Blackwood Campus, NJ
- Doctoral degree in nursing or related discipline required
- Master’s degree in nursing required, along with clinical practice expertise in specialty area
- Current licensure or eligibility for RN licensure in New Jersey
Associate Chief Nursing Officer, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
- MSN, DNP, or PhD strongly preferred
- Current certification as a professional nurse in NJ
- Minimum of ten years of nursing experience
- A minimum of five years of experience in nursing administration, plus a minimum of three years in oncology
Advanced Practice Nurse Heart & Vascular, Valley Health System of Ridgewood, Ridgewood, NJ
- Master’s degree in nursing required, Doctorate (DNP, PhD) preferred
- Minimum of 3-5 years of clinical nursing practice experience, primarily in area of specialty
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.