Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Programs Available in South Carolina

In a June 2014 report, the Office for Healthcare Workforce noted that South Carolina’s healthcare system “is changing in ways that will rely heavily on a well-educated nursing workforce.” Among the changes are projected nursing shortages due to an aging nursing workforce and less nurses working extra hours due to a healthier economy.

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South Carolina nurses who hold a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) will be instrumental in meeting these shortages, leading the state’s healthcare professionals in multiple settings:

  • Clinical – Doctorate-prepared nurses are experts in their chosen speciality, allowing them to provide advanced care to patients
  • Administrative – DNP programs prepare nurses for leadership positions in healthcare, giving them the chance to oversee policy reform, treatment development, and more.
  • Academic – Many DNP-prepared nurses go on to teach at graduate nursing programs, allowing them to prepare South Carolina’s next generation of nurses

Bachelor’s- and master’s-prepared nurses alike can apply to DNP programs, giving them a direct route to the most valuable educational preparation and credentials in nursing.

DNP-prepared nurses serve in many of South Carolina’s most important healthcare leadership positions. Just some of the state’s most prominent nurses who hold the DNP include:

  • Debbie Chatman Bryant, DNP, RN, Director of Partnerships for Healthcare Quality Research at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC)
  • Susan Roos, DNP, MS, RN, NE-BC at Beaufort Memorial Hospital and Member at Large of South Carolina Hospital Association
  • Lisa T Williams DNP, MSN/Ed, MSM, APRN, FNP-BC – Healthcare author, Graduate Nursing Faculty at Walden University
  • Martha Sylvia, DNP, Associate Professor and Director of Population Health Analytics at Medical University of South Carolina

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in South Carolina

There are two DNP programs requiring campus-based learning in South Carolina, located in Charleston and Columbia. Through these programs, students can earn their doctoral degrees in the following tracks:

  • Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • DNP for Post-Master’s Nurses
  • Adult-gerontology
  • Pediatric
  • Nurse Executive Leadership

Bachelor’s-prepared nurses seeking a doctorate degree are eligible to apply to MSN to DNP programs, which allow them to earn their master’s-level education en route to doctorate studies. Master’s-prepared nurses would apply directly to DNP programs, although they must complete the prerequisite coursework for their chosen track before beginning DNP studies.

With only two campus-based DNP programs in the state, a growing number of South Carolina nurses are electing to pursue their doctorate-level education through accredited online programs. These programs offer practical and clinical experience opportunities, a DNP project, and flexible coursework, making them popular among working nurses. For practicum experiences, online DNP programs find placement for nurses at clinical settings throughout South Carolina.

MSN to DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses

Nurses who hold a BSN are eligible to apply to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP programs, which allow them to receive master’s- and doctoral-level education through a continuous course of study. These types of programs provide the most direct route to the DNP.

Master’s-level education typically consists of initial core coursework followed by coursework in the nurse’s chosen concentration.


Doctorate-Level Coursework and DNP Projects

Typically, DNP programs consist of between 48-60 credits, depending the amount of supervised practice the nurse has completed before beginning studies.

Core coursework in DNP programs typically covers the following areas of study:

  • Healthcare organization leadership
  • Clinical decision making
  • Scientific foundations
  • Advocacy, ethics, and policy for population health
  • Epidemiology

To earn the DNP, students are generally expected to complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised post-baccalaureate practice. This practice may consist of hours earned in both the student’s master’s and doctorate programs. Students may also earn these hours independently if the hours are approved by their program.

Nurses enrolled in DNP programs must complete a DNP Project to apply their knowledge in their chosen focus. Working with a program mentor, the nurse uses this project to contribute to an area of scholarship in advanced nursing practice.

Nationally Accredited Post-BSN and Post-MSN DNP Programs in South Carolina

The following DNP programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) (current as of 2016). A larger selection of CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.

Medical University of South Carolina

  • Advanced Clinical Practice
  • Nurse Executive

University of South Carolina

    Nurse Practitioner Patient Population Foci
  • Nurse Executive

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 South Carolina

By completing Doctorate of Nursing Practice programs, nurses in South Carolina can significantly advance their careers, either expanding their current role, earning a higher position outright with their current employer, or filling leadership gaps at various healthcare organizations. Additionally, many DNP-prepared nurses go on to accept teaching positions at graduate nursing programs, allowing them to earn a lucrative second salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers in South Carolina was $69,200 as of May, 2015.

The following job listings for DNP-prepared nurses in South Carolina are shown as illustrative examples only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide any assurance of employment. These examples were taken from a survey of job vacancy announcements completed in March 2016:

Nurse Manager, Pediatric Cardiology Clinic, at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston

  • DNP preferred
  • The hired nurse would work with the hospital’s nurse manager of clinical services ambulatory care to plan and manage all patient care resources and operations for the hospital’s clinic locations.
  • The hired nurse would develop and oversee staffing models for the hospital’s clinic locations.

Nurse Manager, Surgery Trauma ICU, at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston

  • DNP preferred
  • Hired nurse would be responsible for planning and overseeing unit operations on a 24-hour basis
  • Hired nurse would work directly with the director/service line administrator

Full-time faculty member at South University, Columbia in Columbia

  • DNP or PhD required
  • Nurse would be responsible for designing and delivering class instruction
  • Nurse would be expected to incorporate his or her real-world professional experience into teaching plan

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