Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Alabama

The DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, fills important needs at both the state and national levels. Part of the impetus comes from landmark studies by the Institute of Medicine. Their verdict: The nation’s healthcare system as a whole is failing. Healthcare professionals isolate themselves when they should be working in interdisciplinary teams. They focus on handling acute crises instead of managing chronic conditions and preventing crises from happenings. Advances in clinical practice lag years behind advances in scientific research.

Armed with this dismal data, the AACN began a two year task force in 2002. They concluded that a well designed doctoral level program would prepare advanced practice nurses to deliver better care at both the population level and the level of individual practice. They issued a position statement that all master’s level APN programs should transition to the doctoral level by 2015. Their position has become almost a mandate as institutions around the nation have take up the cause.

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AANA has issued a longer timeframe, giving the nurse anesthesia programs they accredit until 2025 to make the transition. Alabama nurse anesthetists don’t need to wait, though, to get their DNP. There are doctoral level nurse anesthesia courses available right now through schools like Samford University.

The University of Alabama-Birmingham and University of Alabama-Huntsville note that the need for highly trained clinicians is greater in Alabama than in may states in the nation. An aging population demands new health care paradigms while a growing population puts a strain on resources. The state ranks 45th in the nation on important healthcare indicators: cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke. In a 2007 letter of support for the proposed program, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Nursing Officer of Crestwood Medical Center noted that there was great need for highly educated nurses and that they looked forward to program implementation.

The DNP could also indirectly increase the supply of RNs. Alabama is experiencing an acute nursing shortage, which is attributable partly to a lack of nursing educators. It is expected that DNP programs will increase the faculty pool.

DNP Program Entry Points and Curriculum Overview

There are multiple entry points for DNP programs. Some accept only post-master’s students during the transition period; others already have a track for post-baccalaureate students. Students who are entering at the BSN level will have the opportunity to select a specialty area. Students who are entering with a master’s can enroll in a DNP completion program; this includes some additional coursework in the specialty, but also a significant number of courses that are common across disciplines. Classes might include epidemiology, bioethical issues, and scholarly research.

There is a good deal of individualization at the doctorate level. Students are generally matched with a preceptor. They complete a scholarly project in an area that will inform their own practice. Students who enter at the BSN level do about 1,000 hours of clinical practice; the number of hours is significantly reduced for post-master’s students. Sometimes the clinical hours can be done at the student’s place of employment; however, it’s separate from paid employment. Different schools have different program options, but are sometimes able to accommodate post-master’s students in a wide variety of specialties. The University of Alabama-Birmingham, for instance, has an independent study option.

DNP programs are competitive. Candidates are generally expected to prepare an essay and submit a curriculum vitae. Test scores may be required as well. Some schools, like Samford University, expect that students identify a topic for their project before applying.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Alabama

Learn about schools offering Online DNP Programs in Alabama.

Samford University

Contact Information:
Ida V. Moffett School of Nursing
800 Lakeshore Drive
Birmingham, AL 35229
PH: 205-726-2872


The University of Alabama

Contact Information:
Box 870358
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0358
PH: 205-348-6639


The University of Alabama-Birminham

Contact Information:
SON Office of Student Affairs
NB 201B, 1530 3rd Avenue South
Birmingham, AL 35294-1210
PH: 205-975-7529


Troy University

Contact Information:
340 Montgomery Street
Montgomery, AL 36104
PH: 334-834-2320


University of South Alabama College of Nursing

Contact Information:
5721 USA Drive N.
Mobile AL 36688-0002
PH: 251-445-9400


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