Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Arkansas

What does an advanced practice nurse in Arkansas need to do to prepare for changing educational standards? Jackie Gray, of the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, addresses this question in the article “The DNP: How Will it Affect Me?” Gray begins the article by quelling rumors that APNs must have a DNP by 2015 in order to practice; she concludes the piece, though, by giving a resounding yes to the question of whether they should pursue the higher degree. If they call the Arkansas Board to ask if degree completion is recommended, she says, they will get an affirmative answer. This is despite the fact that Arkansas does not yet have a program up and running.

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In a sense, Gray is echoing the opinions of key nursing organizations. Spurred by reports of a failing American healthcare system, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing began a task force in doctoral education in 2002. The committee concluded that doctoral level education offered nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses the best preparation. With more coursework and a higher degree, nurses would not only be better equipped to incorporate research into their own practice, but could also become leaders and advocates for needed change. All advanced practice programs should be transitioned by 2015, the AACN announced.

The AACN has 600 member colleges, and is very influential. Their recommendations have been referred to as a mandate, but in fact, stop just short of one. CCNE, the autonomous accrediting arm, has supported the AACN goals, but has clarified in recent years that institutions that did not meet the target date were not in danger of losing accreditation.

What is true is that the AACN’s call to action has dramatically changed the landscape. In 2004, there were practice doctorate programs in just a few states. By 2010, there were 120 with more than 160 reported to be in the works. A number of organizations across the nation have voiced their support for the DNP. These include the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.

DNP Programs in Arkansas

What can a nurse hope to gain from a practice doctorate? DNP programs support both advanced practice nurses and nurse leaders. The two tracks are sometimes referred to as direct and indirect patient care programs. All are based on the essential standards developed by the AACN. These include population health, health policy and advocacy, organizational and systems leadership, and informatics; the standards also include advanced clinical skills. Nurses also learn research methodologies. They are expected to appraise and synthesize scientific research, disseminate evidence-based strategies, and use research to implement care and delivery models. DNP programs wrap up with a capstone project. This gives nurses a chance to integrate strategies while solving a problem or question that is relevant to their own practice. The project is generally completed in conjunction with residency or clinical hours. CCNE expects that each doctoral level advanced practice nurse will complete 1,000 hours. Nurses entering at the post-master’s level can expect to complete a minimum of 500.

Currently, Arkansas nurses need to enroll in out-of-state or online programs. Arkansas institutions are preparing to implement a Doctor of Nursing program in the near future, however. Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and the University of Central Arkansas have formed a consortium for this purpose. The course will utilize blended learning, with a good deal of the coursework online. A needs survey wrapped up February 28, 2011.

Contact Information for Schools Forming DNP Programs in Arkansas

Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in Arkansas.

Arkansas State University

Contact Information:
PO Box 910
Jonesboro, AR 72467-0910


University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing

Contact Information:
217 Ozark Hall
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
PH: 479-575-3904


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