Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Indiana

Why are nurses pursuing doctorate degrees in record umbers? At the heart of the DNP movement, in Indiana and elsewhere, is patient safety. The Institute of Medicine has been quite critical of the state of the medical establishment. IOM reports — including “Crossing the Quality Chasm” — were part of the impetus behind the AACN task force on doctoral health care. In 2004, the AACN announced that all programs should be transitioned to the higher degree. Indiana was among the early states to heed the recommendation.

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Nurses have a lot of questions about the new standards. Will new accreditation requirements affect the certification or licensing of those already practicing? It is unlikely. Historically, there has been a tendency to ‘grandfather’ in those who had already gained competency in the field through practice. Moreover, it is unlikely that national certification requirements will change in the near future, even for those who are newly graduating. The National Pediatric Certification Board addresses this issue on their site. They state that certification standards are changed as a result of changing duties, not changing educational standards. The NPCB expects to conduct practice analysis on the DNP’s influence on changing roles. At some point in the future, they may require it as a prerequisite for new exam takers.

DNP Program Entry Paths and Specializations

DNP programs are based on the essential standards developed by the AACN. Indiana students may enroll in either post-BSN or post-master’s courses. Post-master’s programs are often able to accommodate students from a number of different tracks. Ball State University, for example, admits advanced practice nurses from most common specialties This includes clinical nurse specialists and nurse midwives as well as nurse practitioners.

There are some innovative options within Indiana. Purdue and West Lafayette have partnerships with Reginstrief Health Care Systems and the Homeland Security Institute, among other institutions. Each of these represents a unique program; a student may apply for the Homeland Security track, for example.

DPN programs are designed to accommodate working nurses. There are many part-time options. Some programs are offered entirely online, with the exception of clinical hours. The AACN recommends at least 1,000 practice hours beyond those required for a BSN. This amounts to about 500 post-master’s hours. Some programs go above and beyond this as they strive to give students both breadth and depth. The BSN to DPN program at Purdue includes 1,526 clinical/ residency hours. This includes a health policy residency and cognate residencies as well as the more basic clinical practice.

Another component of the practice doctorate is the capstone project. This can take any of a number of forms, for example, a quality improvement study, a proposal for health care policy change, or leadership of a professional coalition. Doctoral nursing students have mentors who work closely with them. The standards can be quite rigorous. Some schools ask students to present the project at conferences and submit it to a professional journal. (This does not mean that the work has to be accepted for publication.) Purdue refers to the project as an EBP (Evidence-Based Project) and requires a written report that is divided into chapters. Chapters include identification of problem, review of literature, and program design and methodology.

Not surprisingly, admission standards can be high. Students may be asked for a curriculum vitae or portfolio, essay, and references in addition to evidence of licensing. Applicants are expected to be computer savvy as courses may be conducted via Blackboard or other e-learning platforms. Additional correspondence may take place by email and fax.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Indiana

Ball State University

Contact Information:
Cooper Nursing (CN), Room 418
2111 W. Riverside Ave.
Muncie, IN 47306
PH: 765-285-5768


Purdue University

Contact Information:
502 N. University Street
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2069
PH: 765-494-9248


University of Southern Indiana

Contact Information:
8600 University Boulevard
Evansville, IN 47712-3596
PH: 812-464-8600


Valparaiso University

Contact Information:
LeBien Hall 103
Valparaiso, IN 46383
PH: 219-464-5289


Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in Indiana.

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