Several highly influential organizations advocated increasing the number of nurses in the country who possess a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation joined forces with the Institute of Medicine to issue a report in 2010 that strongly recommended doubling the number of DNP-educated nurses in the country by 2022.
Another organization that advocated an increase in such highly educated nurses was the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). This Association called for all advanced practice registered nurses to have a DNP by 2014.
Nurses who have earned a DNP typically specialize in advanced clinical patient care or executive leadership and can help ameliorate the critical shortage of primary health care professionals in much of the country. With 55 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties designated as federal shortage areas for primary health care professionals in 2016, highly trained nurses can help to fill this void.
According to Blake Sonobe, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs with the Oklahoma State System of Higher Education, 90% of the nurses in this state have their training in primary care. Enhancing the education of these nurses would help to provide critically needed care in Oklahoma particularly in the state’s rural areas that have the greatest shortfall of highly trained healthcare professionals.
The demand for DNP-educated nurses is so strong in Oklahoma that an additional DNP program is being developed that will debut in the fall of 2017. While this particular program will be designed for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), other programs in Oklahoma accept both nurses with a BSN and those with a master’s in nursing (MSN).
Nurses in Oklahoma are taking advantage of the opportunity to earn a DNP, and the AACN reported that 113 students were enrolled in DNP programs in the state as of the fall of 2015. Oklahoma’s DNP-educated nurses have gone on to make high–profile contributions to the state’s health care system. Just some of these individuals are shown below:
- Robert Rose, DNP – Program Director-DNP Nurse Anesthesia at the University of Tulsa
- Susan Quisenberry, DNP, APRN, CNP, FNP-C – Nurse Practitioner at Midtown Rheumatology; Sub-Investigator at Health Research of Oklahoma
- Patrick McGough, DNP, RN, MSHR, CHA – Senior Director, Oklahoma City-County Health Department
- Tammy Barbour, DNP, APRN-CNS – Physicians at Home
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s DNP programs require that prospective students possess at least a BSN, while students who have already earned an MSN would apply to the post-MSN phases of these programs.
- BSN-DNP programs are generally designed for nurses with a BSN to obtain their MSN before they transition to their DNP program. Obtaining their MSN first enables these nurses to obtain national certification as an APRN. Typically such programs entail more than three years of full-time study and entail taking about 90 credits.
- MSN-DNP programs are designed for nurses who already have an MSN to complete their DNP program to advance to clinical leadership and other advanced nursing positions. Students in these programs are likely to be licensed APRNs seeking to advance their careers. They can do so by advancing in their current specialty or choosing an additional specialty or population focus. MSN-DNP programs typically require at least 1.5 years of full-time study and 30-36 credits.
National accreditation standards require that students seeking to earn a DNP must complete at least 1,000 post-baccalaureate hours of clinical practice. Some students may already have completed hours of clinical practice and can apply them to their school’s requirement if they have adequate documentation.
Nurses with an MSN who obtain APRN licensure must practice for about 500 hours to be allowed to sit for national certification. These hours count towards the 1,000-hour post-baccalaureate requirement.
A growing number of Oklahoma’s nurses are choosing to eschew campus-based study in favor of accredited online programs that offer more flexibility in their coursework. While these students will take their didactic coursework online, they still must complete their clinical requirements at local partner sites. Doing this may entail completing these requirements where the schools have local partnerships with medical clinics.
Many online and campus-based DNP programs offer flexible formats to accommodate their student’s needs that include both accelerated programs and part-time options for nurses who wish to continue practicing while they are getting their DNP.
DNP programs consist of these three main components:
- DNP core – The core coursework of DNP programs includes topics such as transforming the healthcare organization, methods for evidence-based practice, epidemiology, clinical scholarship, and scientific underpinnings for practice.
- Specialty courses in the student’s chosen focus – Specialty coursework focuses on the two main advanced tracks: ARPN or executive leadership.
- Final project – DNP students conclude their degree with a research project known as a DNP Project. As the name indicates, these research projects are the pinnacle of a DNP program and enable the students to showcase their skills in their chosen focus. The result of this research is typically a manuscript that is submitted to a peer-reviewed journal or in some cases, a formal presentation at a conference. Generally, DNP students will travel to their school for a formal defense of their DNP Project before an audience of professors.
Nationally Accredited BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Oklahoma
The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and/or the American Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) (current as of 2016). A third campus-based program will start accepting students in 2017. A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.
- Kramer School of Nursing
- Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
- Family NP for BSN-prepared nurses, clinical and administration for MSN-prepared nurses
- Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
- University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
- APRN Clinical Leadership
Other DNP programs in the state not shown here 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 Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s DNP-educated nurses have the skills and training to serve as executive leaders or high-level clinicians. Many DNP-prepared nurses continue with their current employer, but are able to advance to a higher-paying position.
This is likely to be the case for students of the DNP programs in Oklahoma that hone the skills of advanced practice registered nurses so they can be primary care providers. These skills are especially valuable for rural parts of Oklahoma that have a dearth of these types of health care providers.
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 entrepreneurs.
Another option for Oklahoma’s nurses with DNPs is to serve as nursing faculty. The situation among nursing faculty in Oklahoma mirrors the trend in the rest of the country. The country is facing a wave of retirement of nurse educators, and in Oklahoma, nursing faculty averaged 52 years of age in 2015 according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Thus, 11 faculty positions were vacant in Oklahoma that year.
While nursing schools in the past required that applicants for faculty positions possess an MSN, the advent of DNP-level training has changed this situation. Most of the educational institutions that hire nursing faculty now prefer applicants who have a doctoral level education.
A survey of DNP job openings as of April 2016 identified the following vacancy. This job listing is shown for informational purposes only and is not meant to provide a guarantee of employment:
DNP Program Director and Faculty Member with Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva
- Doctoral degree required with a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing
- Must be prepared as a Family Nurse Practitioner
- Must have current licensure as an RN and an APRN in Oklahoma
- At least 2 years of academic teaching and clinical experience within an APRN program required