There’s a physician shortage in Utah, but thanks to Utah’s APRNs and their ability to practice autonomously, access to primary care here remains strong. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects a shortage of 600 primary care physicians in Utah by 2025—a deficit of more than 25%.
APRNs and other doctorate-prepared nurses in Utah have the ability to assume crucial healthcare roles while providing high-quality care and augmenting shortages in primary care. According to a 2018 report published by the Utah Health Care Reform Task Force, the number of patients seen by APRNs in Utah has increased by 75% since 2003.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) has become a trusted path for Utah’s RNs and currently practicing APRNs looking to increase their professional opportunities, futureproof their careers, and earn a larger paycheck.
RNs may pursue the DNP to earn initial APRN certification, while practicing APRNs often pursue this highest clinical nursing degree to explore opportunities in administration and nursing education or to advance their clinical skills, and in some cases add another patient population focus.
It’s become commonplace for colleges and universities offering the DNP to offer entry points for both BSN- and MSN-educated nurses with some online curriculum as a way to make them more accessible.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Utah
Both bachelor’s and master’s-prepared nurses in Utah may seek doctorate credentials through DNP programs. The two points of entry accommodate nurses according to their prior education:
- BSN-DNP programs are designed for nurses who hold bachelor’s degrees. It is the most direct route to doctoral status, and many RNs choose this as a path to APRN licensure. Through this program, nurses will earn a master’s degree, become nationally certified in their chosen APRN role, and then earn a DNP. Because of the extensive nature of clinical requirements as well as coursework, BSN-DNP programs generally take four years to complete. These programs are also available in aggregate/systems/organizational focus areas like administration and informatics.
- MSN-DNP programs are designed for nurses who have already earned an MSN. Nurses will choose a specialization for their DNP. If the specialization differs from their master’s coursework, they will be required to complete prerequisite credits before beginning the doctoral program. The doctoral program is about 30-35 credits and can be completed in about a year. However, if additional credits are required, the program is lengthened. These programs are also available in aggregate/systems/organizational focus areas like administration and informatics.
Both online and traditional programs offer different scheduling options to accommodate the student’s needs:
- Traditional, about 18-24 months long
- Accelerated, about a year long
- Part-time, about 2 ½ years long
While DNP program curriculum and individual requirements may vary, all programs share the same core components:
- DNP Core—the DNP core classes are made of theoretical scientific foundations such as biostatistics, epidemiology, and pathophysiology, and leadership courses such as management and collaboration within healthcare systems.
- Specialty courses—These courses will either focus on APRN roles or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus.
- DNP project—The final project of the DNP program, the project usually includes preparing a written paper suitable for publication and a presentation focusing on the nurses’ specialization.
BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Programs Available in Utah
Utah’s DNP programs have received accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE accredits DNP programs that require students to complete at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practicum and offer nurses the ability to specialize in either an APRN role or an aggregate/systems/organizational focus such as executive leadership or informatics.
As of 2016, Utah offers two traditional in-state programs accredited by the CCNE. In addition to in-state options, nurses in Utah may also choose from a variety of accredited DNP programs hosted online by universities throughout the country. Online programs offer flexible schedules, though students are expected to complete clinical requirements in Utah hospitals, clinics, and physician’s offices that partner with the hosting university.
Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Leadership in Advanced Clinical Practice
University of Utah
College of Nursing
Salt Lake City
Accreditation: CCNE and ACME
- Adult/Gerontology Acute Care
- Nurse Midwifery
- Primary Care (Adult/Gerontology, Family, and Pediatrics)
- Psychiatric Mental Health
- Women’s Health
- Dual-Track in Nurse Midwifery and Women’s Health
- Primary Care (Adult/Gerontology, Family, Pediatric)
- Psychiatric/Mental Health
- Nurse Midwifery
- Women’s Health
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 Utah
Graduates of a DNP program go on to become innovative clinical leaders who understand the social factors that influence patient care models. A DNP expands a nurse’s capacity for leadership and management, evidence-based practice, clinical excellence, and ethical and social responsibility. With such a wide array of knowledge, doctorate-prepared nurses are able to easily transition into advanced roles within clinics, universities, hospitals, and other organizations.
The following job listings highlight some of the exciting opportunities available to DNP nurses in Utah:
Instructor, Assistant Professor or Associate Professor (Clinical), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
- Current UT RN license or qualified to attain a Utah RN license
- Master’s degree in nursing or a health-related field; PhD or DNP is desired for teaching in the undergraduate programs of study; PhD or DNP required for teaching in graduate programs of study
Director, Prelicensure of Nursing, Western Governors University, Salt Lake City, UT
- DNP, PhD, or EdD
- Three-plus years in leading and managing a team
- Active and unencumbered RN license
Nurse Practitioner, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
- Licensure to practice as a nurse practitioner in Utah
- Master’s degree in nursing and national certification
- DNP 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.