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

Doctorate-prepared nurses in Utah have the ability to fill many healthcare roles in advanced clinical practice, executive leadership, faculty positions, and leadership roles within professional nursing associations.

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Over the past decade, the U.S. has experienced a nationwide healthcare provider shortage, with a particularly acute shortage of primary care providers and nurses. The shortage is not expected to end anytime soon, as The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has estimated that one-third of the nursing workforce will retire within the next five to ten years. In 2015, the University of Utah Health Care reported that Utah is ranked as having the third most severe nursing shortage in the country. In fact, in 2015, the University of Utah’s school of nursing reported that it had turned away at least 40% of qualified applicants because of lack of nursing faculty. DNP-prepared nurses as seen as key on two fronts: to fill faculty positions such that nursing schools can increase capacity and to serve as nurse practitioners and in other APRN roles to help stem the shortage of primary care providers.

Over the past several years, the Utah state government and the Utah Action Coalition have been working tirelessly to improve nursing education programs, accept more nursing students, and improve the nursing shortage in the state. In 2013, Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill to add more classes at the University of Utah Medical School, hoping to enroll and graduate more physicians. Still, it is widely understood that nurses with advanced degrees working in advanced clinical roles will be critical to fulfilling the primary care needs of the state’s residents. In 2015, the state received just over $370,000 in federal grants to improve access to advanced nursing education.

In 2015, nursing schools in Utah accepted and enrolled 19,188 students and produced 5,665 graduates across all program levels. Of the graduates, 300 held DNP degrees preparing them to serve as primary care providers. As Utah works to enroll more students in nursing schools and graduate more doctorate-prepared nurses, DNP graduates step into critical leadership roles throughout the state, whether in universities, hospitals, or professional associations.

DNPs practicing in Utah often serve as influential leaders of the state’s professional nursing organizations:

  • Sharon Dingman, DNP, MS, BSN, RN—Founder & President of Utah Organization of Nurse Leaders
  • Christopher Morgan, DNP, APRN, FNP-C—Treasurer of Utah Nurse Practitioners
  • Daphne Solomon, DNP, APRN, FNP-C—Board Member of Utah Nurse Practitioners

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 Corethe 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, Provo, UT

    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • APRN

University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT

    • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
    • Certified Nurse Midwife
    • Family Nurse Practitioner
    • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
    • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
    • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

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 in Utah are expected to become innovative clinical leaders who understand the social factors which influence patient care models. The program is meant to expand the graduates’ 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, obtained from a survey of employment opportunities in April 2016, represent current job opportunities and offer insight into the types of professional employment available to DNP graduates in Utah, but are not meant to guarantee employment.

Nurse Practitioner at Legacy Point Family Medicine in West Point, UT


  • MSN degree required; doctorate degree preferred


  • Records patient history and performs physicals
  • Orders diagnostic tests, prescribes treatment, and implements interventions
  • Collaborates with team members by making appropriate referrals

Nurse Administrator at Homecare in South Jordan, Utah


  • MSN required; doctorate degree preferred


  • Leads hospice team by implementing plans and evaluating care
  • Accountable for collaboration within staff
  • Allocates resources, delegates shifts, and oversees patient care

Chief Executive Nursing Officer with Ernest Health in Ogden, UT


  • MSN required; doctorate degree preferred
  • Minimum of three years of administrative management experience in a healthcare setting


  • Leadership of the day-to-day functions of the hospital’s nursing staff
  • Oversee staff, develop and implement patient care plans, assess outcomes
  • Provide staff development, budgeting, and direction

Adult/Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Faculty at University of Utah College of Nursing in Salt Lake City, Utah


  • DNP or other doctorate degree required
  • Preference given to applicants with prior teaching experience


  • Instruct didactic nurse practitioner courses
  • Oversee students’ clinical hours in hospital setting
  • Advise and instruct students within and outside of the classroom

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