Wyoming’s APRNs and other DNP-prepared nurses are well-positioned to make a significant difference in the state’s health care system, which struggles with a persistent shortage of primary care physicians.
According to the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, by 2025, Wyoming will experience a 15% deficit of primary care physicians. Wyoming’s shortage of primary care physicians is nothing new, given the largely rural environment of the state. In fact, as of 2019, 188,000 Wyoming residents lived in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas.
APRNs are able to provide the citizens of Wyoming with safe, reliable, and cost-effective care, even in areas with an acute physician shortage. This is because their expanded practice rights allow them to diagnose illnesses and prescribe treatment completely independent of physician oversight. Many APRNs are choosing to earn the DNP because it arms them with the highest levels of clinical expertise while also solidifying their role as qualified providers of primary care.
RN’s looking to make the move into advanced practice are more frequently choosing the DNP as a route to initial APRN certification, while practicing APRNs often choose it when transitioning to administration or executive leadership or when advancing in clinical practice, which is some cases may mean adding certification in another patient population focus or specialty. To make these programs more accessible to both BSN- and MSN-prepared RNs and APRNs, nursing schools are more and more frequently offering the programs online.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in Wyoming
DNP programs require nurses to hold an active RN license and provide both post-BSN and post-MSN entry points:
- BSN-to-DNP programs enable nurses with a BSN to first complete their MSN before they transition to DNP curriculum, all in one accelerated program. Doing so enables these students to obtain initial APRN certification so they can accumulate the clinical hours of advanced practice experience required to earn the DNP. BSN-DNP programs usually require more than 3 years of full-time study and entail taking about 90 credits, depending on the student’s specialization.
- MSN-to-DNP programs accommodate RNs and APRNs with an MSN, allowing them to advance to clinical or organizational leadership roles. Students in these programs can choose to advance their expertise within their existing specialty or add an additional certification in another specialty or patient population focus. MSN-DNP programs typically involve at least 18 months of full-time study and 30-36 credits depending on the student’s specialization.
The standards for national accreditation of DNP programs require that all students obtain at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical experience. Hours completed during a master’s program in the same track would be applied to this total. DNP students in Wyoming sometimes complete their clinical hours out of state in north central Colorado or southern Montana.
In addition to the University of Wyoming program available in Laramie, an increasing number of Wyoming’s nurses are choosing to obtain their DNP through accredited online programs. While these programs offer a great deal of flexibility in didactic coursework, students still must complete their clinical requirements at partner clinical sites. Students may have to travel to complete these requirements where there are established partnerships.
Many campus-based and online DNP programs offer flexible formats to accommodate students’ work schedules. While a traditional DNP program typically takes about 1.5 to 2 years of study, accelerated programs can be completed in about a year. Part-time study is another option and takes about 2.5 years to complete.
Currently, students in Wyoming who wish to enroll in a campus-based Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-accredited DNP program have one option, however a larger selection of both CCNE and ACEN -accredited DNP programs are available online.
The University of Wyoming offers the FPMHNP track in conjunction with the University of Colorado. Thus, this program is primarily online, although travel to Colorado is minimal:
University of Wyoming
Fay W. School of Nursing
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
DNP programs consist of three main components:
- DNP core – The core coursework for DNP programs includes such topics as clinical scholarship, transforming the healthcare organization, methods for evidence-based practice, epidemiology, and scientific underpinnings for practice.
- Specialty courses for the student’s chosen focus – Courses for the student’s chosen focus will involve either executive leadership courses or an APRN focus.
- Final project – The final project in a DNP program enables the nurses to demonstrate that they have mastered an advanced nursing specialty by conducting research in an area relevant to their focus. DNP Projects typically consist of developing a manuscript that is suitable for publication and/or a formal presentation at a conference. Students typically have to come to the school’s campus to defend their DNP Project.
In addition, the University of Wyoming requires that its DNP students complete an additional one-week practicum with its Innovative Practice Models course at an integrative health care facility. Previous students have completed this practicum at these healthcare centers:
- Mayo Clinic
- Kaiser Permanente
- Denver Health
- Wyoming Mason
BSN-to-DNP Programs for BSN-Prepared Nurses
Most DNP programs, both on-campus and online, offer their students who possess a BSN the opportunity to earn both their MSN and DNP in a combined program. The students transition to their DNP program as soon as they have completed their MSN. Such programs take about three to four years to complete.
BSN-DNP programs that are specific to one of the four APRN roles (nurse practitioner, nurse-midwife, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist) require their students to earn an MSN in their chosen advanced practice nursing specialty. This entails satisfying all of the clinical requirements for an APRN (usually about 500 hours) and, depending on the student’s chosen specialization, sitting for national certification in their chosen APRN role and patient population focus.
At the master’s level, nurses typically complete 30 core credits and additional coursework based on their chosen concentration. Core MSN courses typically cover topics including:
- Health promotion
- Examining evidence
- Ethics and legality of health policy
- Advanced nursing roles
- Advanced practice nursing theory
Opportunities Available to DNP-Prepared Nurses in Wyoming
DNP graduates have the skills to work in nursing administration in Wyoming’s most prestigious medical facilities, educate the next generation of nurses, or serve as leaders in advanced clinical practice.
The following job posts reveal a variety of professional opportunities available to DNP-educated nurses in Wyoming:
Clinical Assistant Professor – Cheyenne Regional Medical Center, Laramie, WY
- DNP or PhD in Nursing or MSN with a PhD in an applicable field
- Unencumbered RN license in Wyoming or the ability to obtain one
- Two years of nursing experience
Assistant Professor – Nursing Leadership, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
- Doctoral degree in nursing or a master’s degree in nursing with a doctoral degree in a related field
- Unencumbered RN license in Wyoming
- At least two years of experience practicing in nursing
Associate Dean/Associate Professor, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY
- Doctoral degree in nursing or a master’s degree with a doctoral degree in a related field
- Unencumbered RN licensure in Wyoming
- At least two years of experience practicing in nursing
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.