Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Connecticut

Why is the nursing community so excited about the DNP? Partly it’s about evidence-based practice. Most practitioners would probably say that they use evidence to inform their decision-making right now. Health organizations, though, suggest that healthcare workers don’t make use of the wealth of information that is out there. The Institute of Medicine has claimed that there is a seventeen year gap between research and practice.

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What does it take to be a stellar primary care provider? Today it takes a thorough understanding of health informatics and translational research methodologies. A nurse should be able to evaluate new research and use it to inform decision making. Ideally, a nurse will use these strategies in a variety of contexts — not just when working with individual patients. Armed with a wealth of information, advanced practice nurses can effect change at the population level; they can be found designing educational programs, implementing care models, and advocating for policy change.

What does this look like in action? For an answer, one might look to the presentations that were made at the annual Connecticut Collaborative Research Day. At the 2011 event, Sally Gerard, DNP, presented research in using academic community partnership to enhance diabetic care.

Connecticut can expect that the number of doctorally trained nurses will continue to rise; the state has implemented three DNP programs in recent years. Advanced practice nurses and leaders have the opportunity to take their nursing and influence to the highest level. Soon the doctorate will be not only an option but a mandate in many locations. The AACN wrapped up a two year task force in 2004 with the recommendation that all programs for advanced practice nurses be transitioned to the doctoral level. The following year, the Institute of Medicine also made a recommendation to implement the practice doctorate as a terminal degree.

DNP Program Tracks and Entry Paths in Connecticut

There are two main tracks within DNP programs: clinical practice and nursing leadership. Within this framework, there are many options. Curriculum is designed around the NONPF Competencies and AACN Essentials. One standard is healthcare policy and advocacy. Other standards include epidemiology, advanced clinical competency, systems leadership, and the scientific underpinnings of nursing.

Students typically enter DNP programs with either a BSN or a master’s degree. There are more DNP program options for nurses who have already completed the basic coursework leads to licensure in a specialty area. Fairfield University, for instance, offers nursing generalists a choice between family care, psychiatric nurse practitioner, or nurse anesthetist programs. In the post-master’s DNP completion program, though, they accept advanced practice nurses from all walks, including nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. Nurse administrators are also admitted.

Prospective nursing students should not interpret this to mean that the DNP is a generic program. DNP programs facilitate student’s growth in their own specialties and also in areas of special interest. Students are matched with faculty advisors who oversee their individual explorations. A doctoral degree requires approximately 500 clinical hours above that required for a master’s. Individual studies result in a final project, often called a capstone project. This may take the form of a pilot study, a program evaluation, or the design of a health education program. The project may also require an oral defense. Individual schools have different requirements with regards to format. The University of Connecticut, for example requires a Powerpoint presentation.

DNP programs generally require a certain amount of computer savvy. Technology-assisted learning is flexible, though, and can meet the needs of working professionals. Most of the coursework is done online. Occasional intensives may be required.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Connecticut

Learn about schools offering Online DNP Programs in Connecticut.

Fairfield University School of Nursing

Contact Information:
1073 North Benson Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
PH: 203-254-4184


Quinnipiac University Department of Nursing

Programs Offered: Doctorate of Nursing (Tracks: Adult Health NP, Family NP, NP, Women’s Health NP), Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing (Tracks: Care of Individual, Care of Populations)

275 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518

Sacred Heart University Office of Graduate Admissions

Contact Information:
Curtis Hall, Second Floor
5151 Park Avenue
Fairfield, CT 06825
PH: 203-396-8259


University of Connecticut

Contact Information:
231 Glenbrook Rd. Office #321
Storrs, CT 06269-2026
PH: 860-486-8063


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