Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in DC

What is the ideal entry level degree for nurse practitioners? Loretta Ford, widely recognized as the co-founder of the nurse practitioner movement, suggests that it should be the practice doctorate or DNP. Speaking before the 2006 General Meeting of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, she declared that the NP field needed the same entry level degree as other healthcare fields that allowed independent practice. She called on NPs to continue to work for prevention-oriented healthcare while striving for greater heights.

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Ford is one of many who has come out in support of doctorate education for nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses. She is in fact one of many to address the potential that a highly educated nursing workforce could have in reshaping the healthcare field. The Institute of Medicine has published a series of reports decrying the current health system. The IOM claims that a faulty paradigm — a focus on management of crises instead of chronic conditions — has cost the United States lives as well as resources. They further note that in order to effectively manage long-term conditions, healthcare practitioners need to be educated in professional collaboration. This is just one area in which healthcare education fails students.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing believes that, while advanced practice nurses deliver primary care on a level comparable to physicians, they’re still not living up to their potential. They need to become leaders and advocates for system level change. The AACN, which has more than 600 member schools, is one of the most influential organizations in nursing. They have set a 2015 timeline for transitioning advance practice nursing courses to the doctoral level. When they made the announcement six years ago, there were only a few programs in the nation. The number has since grown to more than 120. The DNP is more than a degree; it is a movement, and the District of Columbia is right in step. It may be a small municipality, but it already has two DNP programs.

DNP Program Specializations and Entry Paths in the District of Columbia

DNP Programs around the nation follow a common core. The AACN has identified eight essential standards which apply to both indirect and direct patient care. These include analytical methodologies, population health, health information technology, leadership, and advanced clinical skills. Additional standards for advanced clinical practice are set by professional organizations like NONPF. Students complete a clinical practicum and a final capstone project. Within the general perimeters, there is a good deal of variety. Some schools offer separate tracks for a number of specialties. Some, moreover, have partnerships with various community or national organizations. Most degree programs are secular, but some are infused with spiritual teachings.

Students may enter DNP programs with either a BSN or MSN. Post-master’s students may be expected to identify the area of focus for their scholarly project before applying to the program. At the Catholic University of America, they are also expected to identify needed resources (including preceptors and institutions) and write a five to ten page scholarly paper that introduces the topic. Students should follow APA format and demonstrate academic aptitude.

George Washington University offers two courses for advanced practice: family care or adult care. The school also offers a program for nursing executives. The Catholic University of America offers post-baccalaureate options for both nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. Nurses may attend school part-time while working in the field. There are also financial aid options. DNP students at CUA, for example, may apply for teaching assistant positions.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in District of Columbia

Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in the District of Columbia.

The Catholic University of America

Contact Information:
620 Michigan Ave., N.E.
Washington, DC 20064


George Washington University

Contact Information:
Suite 6167 – 900 23rd St, NW
Washington, DC 20037
PH: 202-994-7901


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