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Online BSN-DNP and MSN-DNP Programs Available in West Virginia

Both the popular media and scholarly analyses have found a significant shortage of nurses in West Virginia. The 2010 Workforce Demand in Nursing Survey Reports and Recommendations published by the West Virginia Center for Nursing quantified this shortage.

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Fifty-three hospitals responded to this survey, and 51 of them had trouble recruiting RNs while 12 reported difficulties recruiting advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). Respondents reported that this shortage was felt by patients in the form of lengthier stays in the emergency room and increased patient wait times in general.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommended that all of the country’s APRNs have a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) by 2015, and this degree is rapidly becoming the default for nurse practitioners and other advanced clinicians who are better able to serve the advanced and primary care needs of patients.

The AACN reported that 29 nurses in West Virginia were enrolled in DNP programs as of the fall of 2015—more than twice as many as those who were earning a PhD that year. DNP programs offer entry points for both BSN and MSN-prepared nurses. The practice-based nature of a DNP provides advantages in the workplace, preparing BSNs for initial certification and licensure in advanced practice, while giving existing MSN-prepared APRNs the skills necessary to serve as clinical leaders.

DNP tracks are also available to RNs and APRNs interested in roles that don’t involve direct patient care; roles that include working as executive leaders, instructors, informaticists, policy advocates, public health nurses and more.

Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in West Virginia

West Virginia’s nurses have alternatives to campus-based DNP programs in the many accredited online DNP programs now available in the US. These online programs usually offer a great deal of flexibility and make it easier for nurses to earn a DNP while working in their current career. In contrast, one of West Virginia’s campus-based programs strongly urges students not to work full-time while they work towards their DNP. Part-time or accelerated options are frequently available in online DNP programs.

Post-Bachelor’s DNP – Both of West Virginia’s campus-based programs offer the opportunity for nurses with a BSN to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) through accelerated BSN-to-DNP programs. Typically, nurses with a BSN also earn an MSN in the process, enabling them to sit for national certification exams in an APRN role and patient population focus. Other BSN-to-DNP tracks are available for those interested in an aggregate/organizational/systems focus. BSN-DNP programs typically involve taking about 90 credits over the course of 3-4 years.

Post-Master’s DNP – MSN-educated RN and APRNs have the option to enter the post-MSN phases of one of West Virginia’s campus-based programs, while another school will start offering this option in the summer of 2017. Typically, post-MSN programs allow nurse practitioners and other APRNs to continue to study in a track that aligns with their existing patient population focus, add an additional focus, or they could pursue a track in administrative/executive leadership, informatics, public health, healthcare policy, among others. Post-MSN programs typically involve taking about 30 credits over an 18-month period of full-time study.

Program Components and Clinical Hour Requirements

DNP programs have three main components:

  • DNP core – DNP programs include a core of coursework such as health information systems, health policy, evidence-based practice, nursing theory and research, quality improvement, and statistics.
  • Specialty courses in the student’s chosen focus – Students will focus on their chosen specialty through dedicated courses specific to their track
  • DNP Project – The final phase of a DNP program offers students the opportunity to perform a research project in their chosen specialty. Students work in concert with their faculty members to design a DNP Project. These projects typically entail a rigorous statistical analysis and result in a research paper suitable for publication. Students usually return to their campus to formally defend their results.

DNP programs require that students obtain at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate practicum. Students must track these hours precisely. For instance, West Virginia University requires that its DNP students record their clinical experiences in a log that verifies the site, the specific preceptors, and the nature of the practicum. After completion, this log will become part of the student’s permanent file.

Students that enter post-MSN DNP programs can count their previous post-baccalaureate hours towards the 1,000-hour requirement as long as they have the hours documented precisely. Obtaining an MSN typically requires about 500 clinical hours. West Virginia University requires that 300 clinical hours be completed during the student’s DNP program there.

Nationally Accredited BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP Program Available in West Virginia

Currently, prospective DNP students that seek a campus-based CCNE-accredited education in West Virginia have just one school available to them:

West Virginia University, Morgantown

  • Post-MSN and BSN-DNP
    • Family Nurse Practitioner Focus

A larger selection of both CCNE and ACEN (American Commission for Education in Nursing)-accredited DNP programs are available online.

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 West Virginia

Nurses in West Virginia who obtain a DNP pursue career opportunities that include these titles among many others:

  • Clinical practice as an ARPN
  • Nurse Researcher
  • Pharmaceutical Company Specialist
  • Nurse Academic Leader

Twelve hospitals who responded to the West Virginia Center for Nursing’s 2010 Workforce Demand in Nursing Survey Reports and Recommendations reported that they had trouble hiring APRNs. APRNs in these roles and patient population focus areas are in particular demand:

  • Family Nurse Practitioners
  • Clinical Nurse Specialists
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
  • Certified Nurse Midwives
  • Acute Care Nurse Practitioners

This 2011 workforce report also identified a shortage of nursing faculty. Ninety percent of West Virginia’s 20 nursing schools responded to the survey and reported a 10% turnover of nursing faculty over the previous two years. One of the conclusions of this report was that West Virginia’s shortage of nursing faculty and difficulty in recruiting qualified faculty created a “worrisome” situation for expanding the state’s nursing programs beyond their current capacity.

The combination of the retirement of a large number of nursing faculty with the start of a new DNP program at Shepherd University in 2017 is creating a large number of nursing school vacancies that require doctorate-level training. A survey of job listings during April 2016 identified five vacant academic positions.

This survey is shown to illustrate the types of jobs available for DNPs in West Virginia and is not meant to imply assurance of employment or a job offer:

Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Track Coordinator at the West Virginia University School of Nursing

  • DNP or PhD in nursing required
  • Candidates without a doctoral degree must be enrolled in a doctoral program
  • MSN required
  • The position will combine teaching, scholarship and/or service/practice, and administrative responsibilities during the development and accreditation of the Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program

Tenure-Track Faculty Position at the West Virginia University School of Nursing

  • Doctoral degree required
  • Must have a graduate degree in nursing
  • Candidates with 2 years of postdoctoral training are encouraged to apply

Tenure-Track Research Faculty Position at the West Virginia University School of Nursing

  • Doctoral degree required
  • Must have published at least 3 peer-reviewed publications within the past five years
  • Candidates with current external funding or NIH grant application under development are encouraged to apply
  • Candidates with 2 years of postdoctoral training are encouraged to apply

Assistant Professor Nursing Education: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Track for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program at Shepherd University

  • Earned doctorate required (DNP preferred)
  • National FNP certification required
  • Must have teaching in a FNP and/or DNP program
  • Candidates with undergraduate and graduate teaching experience preferred
  • Must be eligible for RN and APRN licensure in West Virginia

Assistant Professor of Nursing Education – Medical/Surgical Nursing at Shepherd University

  • Tenure-track position
  • Earned doctorate in nursing or related field required or must be currently enrolled in a doctoral program
  • MSN required
  • Must have an unencumbered license to practice nursing in West Virginia
  • Must have recent teaching experience in a bachelor’s or higher degree program

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