More Oregon nurses than ever before are choosing the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as a way to succeed at the highest levels of clinical practice or administration, earn a bigger paycheck, and advance in the field.
In a state that’s experiencing a statewide physician shortage, particularly in rural areas, highly educated advanced practice nurses are more important than ever. For example, a 2018 report found that there are less than 10 psychiatrists per 100,000 people practicing in Oregon. Psychiatric nurse practitioners are crucial for helping to increase access to basic psychiatric services.
APRNs in Oregon enjoy autonomy in practice, so they have full authority to practice independent of a physician. The DNP arms these clinicians with the expertise they need to practice in an increasingly complex healthcare environment and solidify their position as high-quality providers of primary care.
RNs choose the DNP as a path to initial APRN certification, while current APRNs choose it when transitioning to administration or education or when adding another population focus or specialty certification. Along with offering an increasing number of DNP programs online, universities that offer these programs almost always have entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Oregon
Whether bachelor’s-prepared RNs or master’s prepared APRNs, DNP programs offer two points of entry to accommodate prior education. These two paths are:
- BSN-DNP programs allow the bachelor’s prepared nurse to earn a master’s degree, become certified in a patient population as an advanced practice nurse, and earn the highest clinical doctorate degree. It is the most direct route to doctoral status, and although most students complete the program in four years, it is a comprehensive program that is designed to complement the professional nurses’ schedule.
- MSN-DNP programs accommodate the nurse who has already earned a master’s degree. Nurses who want to earn a doctorate degree in the same patient population as their master’s coursework will be able to complete the program in about a year and a half after completing about 30-35 credits of doctorate coursework. However, if the nurse wishes to earn a doctorate degree in a different population than they completed in their master’s studies, the program will be lengthened and require perquisite credits on the master’s level.
Many online and campus-based programs offer three different scheduling options:
- Traditional programs, completed in18-24 months
- Accelerated programs, completed in a year
- Part-time programs, which can be completed in 2 ½ years
DNP programs are made up of three core components:
DNP core: The DNP core includes courses in biostatistics, epidemiology, scientific foundations, pathophysiology, and pharmacology, as well as courses in leadership within healthcare and the ethics and legality of health policy.
Specialty courses in line with the chosen focus: Depending on the nurses’ chosen focus, these courses will either offer an advanced practice focus or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus.
DNP project: Most programs include a DNP project, which will include a paper suitable for publication as well as a presentation on the nurses’ chosen focus.
BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses
The BSN-to-DNP program is designed for bachelor’s prepared nurses seeking their master’s and doctorate degrees in one program. Many nurses choose this program as a route to initial APRN licensure while working towards their doctorate. After obtaining an MSN, the nurse will be required to become nationally certified in their chosen APRN role. The MSN core of the program will also require the nurse to complete at least 500 practicum hours. Because of the extensive nature of clinical requirements and coursework, most BSN-to-DNP programs require four years of study.
The MSN core classes will cover the following topics:
- Leadership in a Complex Healthcare Environment
- Integrative Health
- Healthcare Systems and Resource Management
- Analytical Methods for Practice Improvement
- Quality Improvement Processes for Practice Improvement
- Management of Common Gender Specific Health Issues
- Management of Common Mental Health Conditions in Primary Care
- Integrative Health: Health Promotion
- Informatics in a Complex Healthcare Environment
- Advanced Pathophysiology and Genetics
Nationally Accredited BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Oregon
As of 2016, there are two DNP programs available in Oregon that hold accreditation through Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Programs accredited by the CCNE will require students to complete at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practice. Because of the extensive nature of this requirement, some nurses find it necessary to complete hours outside of the program’s practicum requirements. In addition, CCNE accredited programs must offer nurses the ability to specialize in either an advanced practice nursing role or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus, which can include titles such as Executive Leadership, Systems Organization, and others.
Oregon currently offers two traditional in-state programs accredited by the CCNE. Nurses in Oregon may also choose from a variety of online DNP programs offered throughout the country. CCNE accredits online programs as well as traditional programs, and online offerings are meant to provide the working nurse with flexibility. DNP programs are heavily made up of practicum experiences. Through online programs, the nurse will log clinical hours in hospitals, clinics and physician’s offices in the state of Oregon which partner with the hosting university.
Oregon Health & Science University
School of Nursing
- Family Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
- Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (campus)
- Nurse-Midwifery (campus)
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (hybrid)
- Pediatric Primary & Acute Nurse Practitioner (campus)
- Nurse Anesthesia (campus)
- Leadership (campus)
University of Portland
School of Nursing
- Family Nurse Practitioner
A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.
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 Oregon
Doctorate-prepared nurses in Oregon enjoy careers in advanced practice nursing roles, as well as in executive, leadership, and administrative positions.
The following job listings highlight just some of the outstanding professional opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in Oregon:
Instructor – Assistant/Associate Clinical Professor, Oregon Health & Science University Ashland, OR
- PhD or DNP (earned or in the process) required
- Oregon RN license, FNP license
Licensed Nurse Practitioner – Roseburg, Epi Source, Roseburg, OR
- APRN degree, MSN or higher (PhD or DNP)
SBHC and Clinic FNP, Rogue Community Health, White City, OR
- Master’s degree in nursing or a doctorate in nursing
- Minimum two years of experience as an NP in a school-based setting
- Bilingual English/Spanish language skills highly desirable
Clinical Faculty Nurse-Midwife (Instructor/Assistant Professor), Oregon Health & Science University, Hillsboro, OR
- Master’s degree in nursing required; doctorate strongly preferred
- AMCB or ACC certificated as a nurse-midwife
- Oregon RN license, nurse-midwifery license
Chief Nursing Officer of SHMC University District, PeaceHealth, Eugene, OR
- Master’s in nursing, nursing administration, or healthcare administration
- If MS is in area other than nursing, must possess a BSN – PhD or DNP preferred
- Minimum of ten years of progressively responsible experience leading nursing service departments, with at least five years of progressive executive-level leadership experience in a 150-plus Magnet designated hospital preferred
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.