Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Idaho

The Institute of Medicine has long been a critical of the medical establishment, declaring that healthcare professionals — including physicians and pharmacists as well as nurses — were not prepared to provide the safest and most effective care. The nursing profession responded to the call for improved service. In fact, IOM reports were among the early catalysts in making the practice doctorate the standard for advanced practice nursing.

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Why the 2015 time line? The AACN began a task force in 2002 and announced the results in 2004 after making a study of the few practice doctorate programs that were then in existence. The committee believed that additional education could indeed improve health outcomes, and that it could also do much more. The healthcare system had become increasingly global and increasingly complex. There were new challenges, but also new opportunities. Nurses with additional training could be leaders and visionaries at the community, national, and global levels.

The higher degree, the task force maintained, could also help nurses achieve the status they needed to be effective agents for change. Programs for APRNs had see a good deal of ‘credit creep’ and were already longer and more demanding than those of many fields. It made no sense to add more classes to existing programs. The new standard would be the doctorate.

What does the future hold for DNP Programs in Idaho?

Idaho does not currently have in-state DNP program options, but there are plans underway. Idaho State University intends to make the transition, according to a clinical associate professor (quoted by the Idaho State Journal). At this time, preparation for advanced practice is offered at the maser’s level. This is not necessarily an issue for those who do plan on completing a doctorate. Institutions across the country have created DNP completion programs to help their master’s level students finish their doctorates.

All accredited DNP programs follow the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. What can a student learn beyond what is included in the initial NP preparatory program currently offered at the master’s level? One of the standards is clinical scholarship. The focus in a practice doctorate, the AACN notes, is on translating research into clinical practice. Doctoral level nurses are expected to critically examine medical literature, evaluate outcomes against national benchmarks, design quality improvement methodologies, and act as practice specialists or consultants in research projects.

Another standard is population health. This is in keeping with a long standing tradition of focusing attention on wellness and health education. Nurses at the highest level evaluate various forms of scientific data and synthesize them to improve care, access, and delivery. Leadership, collaboration, and mastery of technological systems are also included in the standards for DNP nurses. Additional standards vary by specialty area; doctoral students who are in practice are of course expected to become more adept at diagnosing and treating illness.

Those who do want to begin their doctoral studies may be interested in online programs. All DNP programs include clinical hours toward the end of the program, but often the rest of the coursework can be completed at a distance. Sometimes it is necessary to travel to the main campus for one or more weekends per semester.

Neonatal nurse practitioners can take the DNP at the University of Utah through WICHE (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education). WICHE allows graduate students in fifteen western states to receive in-state tuition rates when pursuing certain graduate programs that are not available in their own state. There are options to enroll in the DNP in nursing practice through the University of Arizona or other WICHE-participating institutions. The University of Arizona site notes that applicants to their DNP program should be licensed in any of the Nurse Licensure Compact states — Idaho is indeed a member. A candidate may contact individual institutions for details.

An option for nurses in Idaho is to pursue their DNP via an online program. Explore options for Online DNP Programs.