Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Delaware

In a sense, the DNP is not a new thing. The first practice doctorate for nurses began more than thirty years ago. Periodically organizations like the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) have evaluated doctoral programs and considered their value to the profession. It wasn’t until recent years, though, that the movement to make doctoral education the standard for advanced practice nursing really began to take off. In early 2005, there were eight schools in the nation with DNP programs. By early 2010, there were 120.

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In the “DNP Roadmap Task Force Report” (2006), The American Association of Colleges of Nursing summarized the reasoning behind the DNP movement, which was by then well underway. One of the goals of a practice doctorate was to improve patient care and safety. The Institute of Medicine had published several reports that called attention to failures within the healthcare system and made recommendations for widespread changes in the education of healthcare professionals. The IOM claimed that the system in its current state couldn’t efficiently care for an aging and chronically ill population. Health professionals, it was noted, needed education in working as part of interdisciplinary teams.

Another related goal was to bridge theory and practice — the AACN envisioned DNP-educated nurses identifying unresolved questions and serving as the practice-oriented members of research teams. Knowledge generated in PhD programs wasn’t necessarily translated into clinical practice; additionally, the AACN felt that enrollment in such programs had been disappointing over time. Many nurses, it appeared, were looking for something more practice-focused. Ideally, the AACN thought, members of the two doctoral programs would work side by side in universities, each performing the tasks they did best.

It was also felt that nursing needed a terminal degree that was comparable to that earned in other health professions. In 2004, the AACN called on their 600 member schools to transition all advance practice programs to the doctoral level. After conducting regional meetings, conference calls, and other fact finding programs, they determined that the transition could be complete by 2015. Over the next two years, the AACN worked on developing both a timeline and a set of common educational standards.

Much of the translation has already taken place by 2011. Who has benefited? Many people — even students who live in small states where there is no DNP program. Many programs are online or hybrid. Hybrid programs require the student to come to campus for an occasional in-person intensive. Often these are scheduled on weekends.

DNP Program Tracks

There are two basic DNP tracks: direct care and indirect care. Indirect care tracks prepare nurses to work as nurse managers, informatics specialists, or public health nurses; direct care tracks extend the learning for nurse practitioners, nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. Some programs accept students with only a baccalaureate degree. When there is not an in-state program, though, often the easiest thing is to enroll in an initial advanced practice program, then do a DNP completion program later.

One of the most exciting parts of a DNP program is the capstone project. This may take the form of a cost benefit analysis, program evaluation, or pilot project. The demands vary from institution to institution; some schools ask students to begin work early in the post-master’s program. For some nurses, the capstone project is a chance to make an impact in one’s community while enrolled in school. A 2010 graduate of the Duke University DNP program, for example, put together a website and toll-free call center to give community members instant access to resources that they used to spend a good deal of time trying to locate. In order to complete the project, the student had to carry out many steps. She surveyed community members about their needs, wrote a grant proposal, worked with a web designer, and met with case managers to ensure that the information she presented was both accurate and appropriate.

DNP Programs in DE

Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in Delaware.

No programs are offered by in state schools yet. We will update as they come available.

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