Online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Rhode Island

The highly influential 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation strongly recommended that the number of doctorate-prepared nurses in the country be doubled by 2022. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) provided additional impetus for this recommendation by advocating that all advanced practice registered nurses possess a DNP by 2014.

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In addition to serving as advanced clinical practitioners, DNP-educated nurses can serve as nurse educators on the faculty of nursing schools. Estimates from 2004 suggested that Rhode Island may face a shortage of 6,500 RNs by 2020. Stakeholders in Rhode Island considered this situation to be so grave that they appointed a Special Senate Commission to address the issue.

The 2009 report produced by this commission offered recommendations to avoid “a potential crisis posed by the projected nursing shortage.” One of these recommendations advocated increasing the number of nursing educator faculty to grow the supply of qualified nurses.

Rhode Island’s nursing schools responded to this call by adding DNP programs, and the state’s nursing students are taking advantage of the opportunities provided by campus based and online DNP programs. Both bachelor-educated and nurses with master’s degrees can take advantage of DNP programs in Rhode Island. The AACN reported that 60 students in the state were enrolled in such programs as of the fall of 2015.

Nurses with DNPs in Rhode Island have received acclaim for their accomplishments. For instance, Betty Sadaniantz, DNP, RN was named the Dean of the St. Joseph School of Nursing in 2015 following six years as a full-time faculty member at the school. In addition, Dr. Sadaniantz served as Project Director for the Rhode Island Center for Nursing Excellence.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s DNP programs require that students who seek to enroll in them possess at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Many students enter DNP programs with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

  • BSN-DNP programs usually enable nurses with a BSN to complete their MSN before transitioning into their DNP program. Obtaining their MSN enables these nurses to obtain their initial APRN certification, since sitting for national certification requires an MSN. However, the University of Rhode Island offers a direct BSN-DNP program in which students move directly to obtaining their DNP and save at least 14 credits by doing so. A typical BSN-DNP program requires about 90 credits and entails more than 3 years of full-time study.
  • MSN-DNP programs enable nurses who already have an MSN and are likely to be licensed APRNs to complete their DNP program and advance to clinical leadership and other functions. Students is such programs have the option of advancing their expertise within their current specialty or choosing an additional certification in another patient population focus or specialty. MSN-DNP programs typically entail taking 30-36 credits and take at least 18 months of full-time study.

In addition to completing coursework, all DNP students must obtain at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical hours to meet the national accreditation standards for these doctoral programs. MSN students must obtain 500 hours of clinical practice to be certified in their field, and these hours count towards this requirement.

Increasing numbers of nurses in Rhode Island are choosing accredited online programs as alternatives to the state’s campus-based programs. Although their coursework is online, these nurses must complete the required number of hours of post-baccalaureate practice. Doing this may require that the nurses perform their clinical practice at clinical sites that have a relationship with their DNP program.

DNP programs consist of three main components:

  • DNP core – The core coursework for DNP programs includes such topics as clinical scholarship, epidemiology, transforming the healthcare organization, methods for evidence-based practice, and scientific underpinnings for practice.
  • Specialty courses for the student’s chosen focus – In this phase, students take coursework specific to their chosen focus—either courses for APRNs or those for an executive leadership/administrative focus.
  • Final project – The final project in a DNP program is a research project known as the DNP Project. Students work with their professors to pick a research topic that relates to their focus and produce either a manuscript suitable for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or for presentation at a conference. In most cases, students must come to their campus to defend their project before a faculty committee.

BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Rhode Island

Currently, students in Rhode Island who wish to enroll in a campus-based DNP program have three choices in the state:

  • Rhode Island College, Providence
    • Designed for MSN-educated nurses in an advanced practice specialty
  • Salve Regina University, Newport
    • Offers a Direct BSN-DNP program
    • Specializing in Family Nurse Practitioner
  • University of Rhode Island, Kingston
    • Specialties include:
      • Family Nurse Practitioner
      • Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
      • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Rhode Island

Nurses with a Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Rhode Island have the skills and training to serve as high-level clinical practitioners or in executive leader positions. Many DNP-prepared nurses continue with their current employer, but advance to a higher-paying position. Chief nursing officers frequently possess a DNP, for instance. Other such nurses work as entrepreneurs by opening up their own practice.

Another role for DNP-educated nurses in Rhode Island is to serve at nursing faculty at one of the many nursing colleges in the state. Several factors have increased demand for highly trained nurse faculty in Rhode Island.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported that the average age of nursing faculty in Rhode Island was 58 in 2015. Thus, many nurse faculty members are nearing retirement age and will need to be replaced. According to the AACN, 12 faculty vacancies opened up between 2010 and 2015 in Rhode Island.

Another reason for the dramatically increased demand for DNP-educated nursing faculty is that the nursing program at Rhode Island College in Providence will start offering a DNP degree option as of September 2016. Thus, this college is hiring a large number of nursing faculty to educate these DNP students.

A survey of job listings for DNP-educated nurses in Rhode Island during April 2016 identified a large number of faculty positions that needed to be filled. This list is informative only and is not meant to provide a guarantee of employment:

Tenure-Track Professor in Nursing with Salve Regina University in Newport

  • Doctorate in nursing required
  • Must be eligible to be licensed as an RN in Rhode Island and Massachusetts
  • Specialty in Family Medicine required

Assistant Professor, Nursing (Maternal-Child Health) with Rhode Island College in Providence

  • Tenure track
  • Doctoral degree and current RN license required
  • Applicant must have relevant teaching and clinical experience

Assistant Professor, Nursing (Medical-Surgical) with Rhode Island College in Providence

  • Tenure track
  • Doctoral degree and current RN license required
  • Applicant must have relevant teaching and clinical experience

Assistant Professor, Nursing (Community Health Nursing) with Rhode Island College in Providence

  • Tenure track
  • Doctoral degree and current RN license required
  • Applicant must have relevant teaching and clinical experience

Clinical Assistant Professor, Nursing (Simulation Editor) with the University of Rhode Island in Kingston

  • DNP or PhD in nursing or a related field preferred
  • Candidate will design, facilitate, debrief, and evaluate simulation learning across the graduate and undergraduate nursing curricula
  • Three-year, non-tenure line, full-time academic year appointment with the possibility of renewal

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