According to a February 2019 article published in the Albuquerque Journal, the physician shortage in New Mexico is as unsettling as it’s ever been. In fact, the state is now ranked 48th in the nation for its access–or lack thereof—to physicians. To add to the already challenging healthcare environment here, the state’s physician workforce is the oldest in the country with many transitioning into retirement every year, which means that the physician shortage here won’t go away any time soon.
The bright spot in New Mexico’s healthcare sector is undoubtedly the APRN. Because nurse practitioners and other APRNs are able to practice independently, without physician oversight or collaborative agreements, they can and often do fill the void of a lack of physicians, particularly in the rural parts of the state. Their ability to provide reliable, cost-effective care has made them vital members of the state’s healthcare workforce.
Many of New Mexico’s APRNs are turning to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which prepares them with the skills and know-how to serve as outstanding providers of primary care throughout the state. While the MSN remains the minimum educational requirement to become licensed as an APRN in New Mexico, both aspiring and practicing nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists know that the DNP is the degree that will solidify their careers and advance their profession.
It’s also the chosen degree for RNs and APRNs who want to transition from clinical practice to administration or clinical education.
The number of DNP programs in New Mexico and throughout the U.S. offering online coursework and virtual classes is increasing in response to demand, and most offer entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in New Mexico
RNs with a BSN as well as MSN-prepared APRNs in New Mexico are both able to enroll in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs:
- Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP programs for BSN-prepared RNs make earning a DNP more accessible by including MSN curriculum to prepare students for DNP-level courses, all in one accelerated program. In most cases, these programs result in earning both an MSN and DNP. This type of program is commonly used as a path to initial APRN certification and licensure as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist (about 90 credits).
- Post-Master’s MSN-to-DNP programs allow MSN-prepared nurses who are often certified and licensed as APRNs to complete a DNP in preparation for roles in clinical leadership and more. These programs can serve as a path for APRNs looking to advance their expertise within their current APRN role or add additional certification in another patient population focus or specialty. These programs are just as often used to prepare nurses for nonclinical leadership positions with executive leadership tracks (about 35 credits).
New Mexico is home to DNP programs that have received accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which requires programs to include a focus in at least one of the following:
- An advanced practice nursing direct care focus
- An aggregate/systems/organizational focus (e.g., executive leadership, health policy, etc.)
CCNE-accredited programs must also include at least 1,000 clinical practice hours, 500 of which may have been satisfied through the student’s MSN program.
In addition to full-time programs, which take about 18-24 months to complete, many institutions offer part-time programs, which take about 32 months to complete, and accelerated programs, which take about 12 months to complete.
Depending on the chosen focus, admission into a post-master’s DNP program may also require national certification in a chosen APRN role and population focus.
DNP Curriculum Requirements
A DNP program includes:
- A DNP core
- Courses specific to the chosen DNP specialty/focus
- Clinical residency
- Final project
The DNP core includes courses such as:
- Advanced healthcare statistics
- Applied epidemiology
- Applied clinical research
- The business of healthcare policy and politics
- Organizational systems and quality management
Credits and courses beyond the core apply directly to the chosen focus. Examples of courses related to a DNP focus include:
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric assessment across the lifespan
- Group therapy and complex care
- Evidence-based treatment
Health Systems Leadership
- Transforming healthcare through technology
- Strategic management and financial controls of healthcare organizations
- Building collaborative relationships
Final projects may include a DNP project, a practice portfolio, or a research utilization project.
BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses in New Mexico
BSN-DNP programs provide BSN-prepared RNs with a unique opportunity to earn both their MSN and DNP through one, streamlined program. Just like post-master’s DNP programs, BSN-DNP programs are often offered in online, part-time, and/or accelerated formats through many institutions.
Most BSN-to-DNP programs consist of between 74-90 credits and take about four years to complete.
Before beginning the DNP portion of the program, students of BSN-DNP programs must complete the didactic and clinical requirements of their MSN program and, depending on the chosen focus, earn national certification in an APRN role and population focus:
The core of an MSN program includes study in:
- Clinical prevention/population health
- Evidence-based practice
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Organizational and systems leadership
- Policy and advocacy
- Program evaluation for improving patient and population outcomes
- Quality and safety
An MSN program with an APRN focus must also include an APRN core, which includes study in:
- Advanced physiology/pathophysiology
- Advanced health assessment
- Advanced pharmacology, including:
- Pharmacotherapeutics of all broad categories of agents
CCNE-Accredited BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP Programs Available in New Mexico
The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) (current as of 2016).
New Mexico State University
School of Nursing
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
- Clinical Nursing Practice
University of New Mexico
College of Nursing
- Clinical Nursing Practice
- Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership
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.
A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in New Mexico
DNP-prepared nurses in New Mexico are leaders in advanced practice nursing roles. They are also clinical scholars skilled in translating research into clinical practice and administrators who are able to measure patient outcomes and transform healthcare systems to ensure quality and safety.
DNP graduates in New Mexico have a wealth of career options at their disposal, whether they want to advance in their current position or explore opportunities with a new employer.
The following job posts highlight just some of the exciting opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in New Mexico:
Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Coordinator, University of New Mexico, NM
- MSN or equivalent; doctoral degree (PhD, DNP, DNSc, DRPH, EdD)
- Experience working with rural and/or underserved populations
- Three years of PMHNP practice experience
- Active PMHNP license and national certification
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, Mesilla Valley Hospital, Las Cruces, NM
- MSN or DNP
- Licensed as a certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner
- Prior experience in hospital-based psychiatric practice and outpatient psychiatric practice preferred
Executive Director of Surgical Services, Albuquerque, NM
- MSN or DNP
- Progressive management experience in acute care setting managing multiple departments and staff
- Four years directly related experience
- Licensed RN in the State of New Mexico
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.