Online BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Tennessee

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Tennessee will see a 19% deficit of primary care physicians by 2025, which supports a study from 2016 that revealed that nearly 20% of all Tennessee citizens reside in areas with physician shortages.

Fortunately, APRNs can fill the primary care void while providing reliable, cost-effective care. The Tennessee Department of Health reports that increasing numbers of nurses in Tennessee are earning the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), advancing the nursing profession and increase their expertise along the way, both in and out of the clinical setting. In 2014, there were 832 students enrolled in doctoral programs in Tennessee; by 2018, this number had increased to 1,090.

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Tennessee’s practicing APRNs pursue the DNP when they want to add an additional patient population focus or specialty, further their clinical expertise in an existing area of focus, move into executive and organizational leadership roles, and effect change in health policy from a clinical standpoint. For RNs, the DNP is a direct route to initial APRN certification, clinical management and even administrative and executive positions.

Tennessee’s colleges and universities often offer the two DNP entry points with online content for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses, making these programs more accessible. As of 2020, Tennessee was home to nine schools offering the DNP.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Tennessee

Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs are available in institutions across Tennessee and through accredited online programs. Though programs are available with an aggregate/organizational/systems focus in executive leadership, instruction, informatics and more, the number of graduates entering the field as nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses is growing to meet the demand in Tennessee.

Universities offer DNP programs with entry points for BSN-prepared RNs and MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs:

  • Post-Master’s MSN-to-DNP – Students who hold a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) can begin their DNP coursework straight away through a conventional post-master’s MSN-to-DNP program. This course of study is for MSN-prepared nurses who desire further development of advanced practice knowledge and skills, both in direct patient care and in leadership roles. Specialty tracks allow for increased expertise and additional certification in new patient population focus areas and specialties.
  • Post-Bachelor’s BSN-to-DNP – Options for students who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree come in the form of BSN-to-DNP programs, which serve as a pathway towards an eventual DNP while first preparing students with the credits needed to earn an MSN. BSN-to-DNP programs streamline the route towards doctorate-level study by allowing BSN-educated nurses to obtain certification in an APRN role or pursue an aggregate/systems/organizational role, and then continue on to earn their DNP.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) maintain national accreditation standards for DNP programs. As such, Doctor of Nursing Practice programs fall into two general specialty track types:

  • APRN Direct Care Focus (with patient population focus)
    • Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthetist,
  • Aggregate/Systems/Organizational Focus
    • Administration, Clinical Instruction, Informatics, Executive Leadership, Public Health, etc.

Tennessee offers many on-site DNP programs, and though traditional institutions abound, an increasing number of BSN and MSN-prepared nurses are turning to accredited online schools to earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Doctorate-Level Coursework and DNP Projects

The major components that DNP programs typically consist of are:

  • DNP Core These core courses are generally found in most DNP programs, both in Tennessee and throughout the nation. DNP programs geared towards direct patient care APRNs, as well as those with a focus on leadership, administration, and/or informatics, will include:
    • Theoretical Foundations of Advanced Practice Nursing
    • Epidemiology and Health Promotion
    • Health Policy, Ethical, and Legal Perspectives of Health Care
    • Ethical Dimensions for Nursing Practice
    • Foundations of Integrative Care
    • Research Methodology
    • Advanced Biostatistics in Health Research
    • Advanced Nursing Roles
    • Promoting Optimal Models and Systems for Health Care Delivery
    • Scientific and Analytic Approaches to Advanced Evidence-Based Practice
  • Specialty Coursework– These courses prepare students to work in their desired advanced practice or non direct patient care role.
  • Final Project When students finish their core and specialty course requirements, they will complete a DNP Project, which is designed as a final showcase of the practical knowledge and skills they have attained throughout the duration of their doctoral studies.

Additionally, DNP programs typically require all students to complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of supervised post-baccalaureate practice to earn their degree. Up to 500 hours of practicum gained during the student’s master’s program can be applied, so long as the student’s MSN program was obtained within the same area of focus as their DNP.

Post-Bachelor’s and Post-Master’s Programs Available in Tennessee

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). Other DNP programs not shown here may hold regional accreditation or specialty accreditation through the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational programs or the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education.

Both CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are often available online.

 

East Tennessee State University

College of Nursing

Johnson City

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (hybrid/online)

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Nurse Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

MSN-DNP (hybrid/online)

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner
  • Executive Leadership
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Psych/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

 

King University

School of Nursing

Bristol

Accreditation: CCNE

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

Union University

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Jackson

Accreditation: CCNE and COA

RN-DNP

  • Nurse Practitioner: Family and Family Psychiatric/Mental Health (hybrid)
  • Executive Leadership (hybrid)

BSN-DNP

  • Nurse Practitioner: Family and Family Psychiatric/Mental Health (hybrid)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (campus)
  • Executive Leadership (hybrid)

Post-Master’s-DNP

  • Nurse Practitioner: Family and Family Psychiatric/Mental Health (online)
  • Nurse Anesthesia (online)
  • Executive Leadership (hybrid)
  • DNP/MBA Dual Degree (online)

 

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

School of Nursing

Chattanooga

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (online)

  • Nursing Administration Systems

MSN-DNP (online)

  • Advanced Nursing Practice

 

University of Tennessee Health Science Center

College of Nursing

Memphis

Accreditation: CCNE and COA

Post-BSN-DNP

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Nurse Anesthetist (hybrid)
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (online)
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner (Dual) (online)
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner/Family Nurse Practitioner (Dual) (online)

 

University of Tennessee-Knoxville

College of Nursing

Knoxville

Accreditation: CCNE

BSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Executive Leadership
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Primary Care and Dual (Acute/Primary Care) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthesia

MSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Clinical Nursing Practice

 

Vanderbilt University

School of Nursing

Nashville

Accreditation: CCNE and ACME

BSN-DNP (hybrid)

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

Post-Master’s-DNP (hybrid)

  • Advanced Practice
  • Advanced Systems Practice
  • Executive Leadership

 

Lincoln Memorial University

Caylor School of Nursing

Harrogate

Accreditation: ACEN

Post-Master’s-DNP (online)

  • Nurse Leader

 

Southern Adventist University

School of Nursing

Collegedale

Accreditation: ACEN

BS-DNP (hybrid)

  • Acute Care—Adult/Gerontology
  • Acute Care + Family NP
  • Lifestyle Medicine
  • MBA Healthcare Administration
  • Nurse Educator
  • Primary Care—Adult/Gerontology
  • Primary Care—Family NP
  • Primary Care—Psychiatric Mental Health NP

Post-Master’s DNP (hybrid)

  • Acute Care—Adult/Gerontology
  • Acute Care + Family NP
  • Lifestyle Medicine
  • MBA Healthcare Administration
  • Nurse Educator
  • Primary Care—Adult/Gerontology
  • Primary Care—Family NP
  • Primary Care—Psychiatric Mental Health NP

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 Tennessee

DNP nurses enjoy outstanding careers in the most advanced clinical nursing positions, as well as in executive leadership, teaching positions, and more.

The following job listings provide insight into some of the exciting professional opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in Tennessee:

Assistant Professor of Nursing, Christian Brothers University, Memphis, TN

  • DNP, PhD, DNSc preferred
  • To be considered for the appointment of assistant professor, candidate must have a doctoral degree by the time of initial appointment
  • Current or eligible for an active, unencumbered Tennessee RN license

Dean – School of Nursing, South College, Knoxville, TN

  • DNP, PhD, EdD
  • Must have an earned doctorate or terminal degree in nursing or in a discipline related to healthcare or education, along with a master’s degree in nursing
  • Valid RN license in Tennessee or be eligible for licensure in the state
  • Successful record of teaching and scholarship

Professional Development Specialist RN, Regional One Health, Memphis, TN

  • Master’s degree required; strongly prefer applicants with doctorate/DNP
  • Three-plus years of experience

Assistant Professor – Acute Pediatrics DNP Program, College of Nursing, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN

  • Earned doctoral degree
  • Unencumbered licensure as an RN and APRN in Tennessee
  • Two years of experience required

 

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.

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