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

The Tennessee Department of Health keeps a close watch for any possible communicable diseases or public health concerns by continually surveying health trends throughout the country and employing top-notch healthcare professionals statewide to treat and eradicate any known issues. In fact, in April 2016, when the Shelby County Health Department reported just six confirmed cases of measles in the greater Nashville area, public health officials quickly addressed the situation, forming teams tasked with tracking the virus and stopping it from spreading any further.

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Shelby County Health Department Director Alisa Haushalter holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and is part of the team spearheading this effort. Describing the urgency of their work, Haushalter explained, “Contact tracing is our most important activity now, allowing us to quickly help those who may have been exposed to infections and prevent others from being infected. We have contacted hospitals and physicians in neighboring counties to keep them updated on this evolving situation.”

Advanced practice nurses (APNs) like Alisa Haushalter are an integral part of improving and sustaining health throughout Tennessee. While the value of every RN in the state is undeniable, those prepared with the expertise and skills gained through doctorate-level education are better equipped to serve the medical needs of the general public as specialists and primary care providers, as well as through public health advocacy and health policy development.

Some other notable DNPs practicing in nursing leadership positions in Tennessee include:

  • Rachel Brown, DNP, CRNA
    • Middle Tennessee School of Anesthesia
    • Program Administrator
  • Randy Gordon, DNP, FNP-BC, DCNP
    • Chamberlain College of Nursing
    • MSN-FNP Program Instructor

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Tennessee

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) 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 need of Tennesseans.

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 CourseworkThese 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.

Belmont University in Nashville, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • DNP/Master of Business Administration (MBA) Dual Degree

East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Executive Leadership
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult-Gerontological Nurse Practitioner
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Union University in Jackson, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Nurse Anesthesia
    • Executive Leadership
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult-Geriatric Primary Care
    • Pediatric and Family Psychiatric Mental Health

University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Nursing Administration
    • Nurse Anesthesia
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist
    • Nurse Midwife

University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care
    • Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
    • Nurse Anesthesia
    • Pediatric Nursing
    • Neonatal Nursing

University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN

  • Post-MSN and BSN-to-DNP
    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Family Psychiatric Mental Health
    • Neonatal Nursing
    • Nurse Anesthesia
    • Pediatric Nursing

Lincoln Memorial University

  • Post-MSN
    • Advanced Clinical Practice

King University

  • Post-MSN
    • Advanced Clinical Practice

Southern Adventist University

  • Post-MSN
    • Acute Care Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner

Vanderbilt University

  • BSN-DNP and Post-MSN
    • Advanced Clinical Practice

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

Nurses that earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree gain a valuable platform for advancement in their chosen area of specialty within nursing. Advanced practice nurses with a DNP find adancement opportunities in roles that involve direct patent care, as well as in executive leadership, teaching positions and more.

The following job listings for doctorate-prepared nurses in Tennessee were surveyed in April 2016. They are shown for illustrative purposes only and are not meant to represent job offers or provide any assurance of employment.

APN/Nurse Practitioner at Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare
(Various Tennessee Locations)


  • Master’s degree or higher in nursing specialty
  • National Specialty Certification as NP
  • Advanced practice licensure, as required by the state
  • 3+ years general nursing experience of clinical practice at the RN level or higher


  • Assess, diagnose, and treat patients in the assigned center according to approved protocol and acceptable standards.
  • Perform necessary diagnostic and therapeutic procedures according to written, approved protocols developed with and under the supervision of the Medical Director/Collaborating Physician. Participate in the design and revision of protocols.
  • Collaborate with Medical Physician and ancillary personnel as appropriate to promote quality care for patients. Make referrals as appropriate.
  • Recognize and react appropriately to environmental safety factors related to patient care.
  • Understand, apply, and support practice policies, procedures, goals, and standards.
  • Develop strong partnership with patients, family members, fellow physicians/nurses, and support staff. Focus on high patient and family satisfaction and retention.

NP/Director of Clinical Operations at PopHealthCare, LLC.
(Nashville, TN)


  • Master’s degree or higher
  • APRN, credentialed as Adult, Family, or Geriatric NP
  • 5+ years of clinical experience in adult medicine
  • 5+ years of senior leadership experience
  • Experience in population management


  • Collaborate with product colleagues to explore innovative delivery models or enhancements to current delivery models.
  • Serve as a subject matter expert (SME) on evidence-based clinical practice.
  • Collaborate on the development of training materials to support clinical training.
  • Participate in clinical training initiatives.
  • Collaborate with business leaders to implement new markets and programs.
  • Train and mentor new clinical leaders within the organization.

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