Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Arizona
Will the DNP better prepare nurse practitioners to work in Arizona’s reservations and other underserved regions? Research by key nursing organizations suggests this is indeed the case.
The AACN concluded, after a two year task force study of U.S. doctoral nursing programs, that additional coursework could not only improve outcomes on an individual level, but help nurses become major players in public health advocacy and healthcare reform. Part of the issue was the coursework itself, but part of it was the need for a degree that accurately reflected one’s training. Master’s programs for nurse practitioners were already longer than master’s programs in many fields, but the terminal degree was not a strong enough signal of expertise.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in cooperation with the Institute of Medicine, also did a study of professional nursing. They concluded that nurses could play a large role in transforming the healthcare system, but that further education was indicated. Nurses should be given training in leadership as well as patient care. The committee wanted to see more nurses with entry level training go on to receive BSNs, and more nurses with BSNs enter doctoral training; part of the goal of doctoral education would be to prepare nursing faculty.
The above are things a nurse practitioner or nurse manager needs to take into account when deciding whether to pursue additional education. In a few years, though, the doctorate will become the standard for new nurse practitioners entering the field. The AACN declared in 2005 that advanced practice nursing courses should all transition from master's to doctorate level by 2015. AANA (the accrediting body for nurse anesthetists) has set a more generous 2025 timeline, and ACME continues to support multiple points of entry for midwives. Even in these fields, however, programs are transitioning.
More About the DNP Program Admission Requirements and Time Requirements
Arizona has two DNP programs, at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. There may be more as other existing programs make the transition. Students do not necessarily have to spend much time at the Tucson or Phoenix-area campuses. Much coursework is done online, to accommodate the needs of working professionals. A nurse can enter an Arizona DNP program at either the post-baccalaureate or post-master’s level. At the University of Arizona, those already licensed as NPs need 43 units to obtain their doctorate while students entering with BSNs need 74 to 77. The number is variable for post-master’s students; it depends on how many courses the student has that can be transferred. The U of A notes that applicants do not necessarily have to have licensure in Arizona, but should be licensed in on of the Nurse Licensure Compact States.
DNP programs are based on the essential standards put forth by the AACN. Professional organizations set competencies for specialty practice, but eight standards are common across specialties. Nurse practitioners gain in clinical competency, leadership ability, applied research skills, and knowledge of epidemiology (health issues at the population level). Programs generally conclude with a capstone project. Unlike a PhD dissertation, the focus is on translational research -- that is, taking existing research and applying it to particular populations. Capstone projects are typically done in conjunction with clinical practice. The AACN has recommended at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical practice. Some schools exceed this. ASU requires 1,140 for post-baccalaureate students and 540 for practicing NPs.
Programs vary in length. Some have additional components beyond the minimum. Some courses may be at the discretion of the individual student. At the University of Arizona, one has the option of a dual PhD and DPN program.
Contact Information for DNP Programs in Arizona
Explore some of the schools offering Online DNP Programs in Arizona.
Arizona State University
ASU College of Nursing & Health Innovation
500 N. Third Street
Milwaukee, WI 53201
The University of Arizona
PO Box 210203
Tucson, AZ 85721-0203
*Please contact us with new programs we should know about or any that we have missed.