Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Kentucky

Kentucky is a leader in the field of professional nursing. The AACN DNP Task Force is very well known, but Kentucky had a task force of its own developing a practice doctorate back in 1998. The first DNP students in the nation were admitted to the University of Kentucky in 2001. A big part of the vision for the program came from Carolyn Williams. In an interview published in The Practice Doctorate: A Guidebook for Role Development and Professional Issues, she explains that she was motivated by a desire to see nurses become leaders. She wanted to see them look beyond their own practice to the population as a whole, and she also wanted to see more evidence-based decision making.

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When Williams became president of the AACN, Kentucky’s vision became a big part of the nation’s vision. When the task force on doctorate level education programs for nurses began, there were only four schools in the nation offering practice doctorates. The task force communicated with each school about its goals and outcomes This, along with an assessment of the general state of healthcare, led to the recommendation that all advanced practice programs be transitioned to the doctoral level by 2015. The AACN used input from around the nation in creating a set of essential standards. Again, Kentucky played a key role; as Williams notes, the themes she espoused were incorporated into the essential standards.

The vision has been embraced by many. In 2004, when the recommendations were made, only a few schools offered a practice doctorate for nurses. By March of 2011, the number had become 120; well over a hundred more were in the planning stages. There have been some dissenting voices, of course. ACME, the accrediting agency for midwives, continues to support multiple points of entry. It is expected that ACME will still accredit midwife programs at the master’s level. In Kentucky, though, there are already DNP programs available to midwives.

DNP Program Entry Points and Scholarship Opportunity in Kentucky

A nurse can often enter a doctorate program with either a baccalaureate or master’s degree. The University of Kentucky offers both a post-baccalaureate and a post-masters option for the DNP. The post-master’s option is intended for those who are already educated and credentialed in a particular specialty area. DNP completion programs include some competencies not included in the master’s program. Among the essential standards, one finds biostatistics, healthcare systems, and use of health information technology.

The Frontier Nursing University also offers the DNP degree. Programs include family nurse practitioner and women’s health as well as nurse midwifery. Currently, students can earn master’s degrees — and licensing — on their way to earning their doctorates.

The DNP has generated a good deal of enthusiasm among nursing professionals. For some, of course, the cost of education can be daunting. It may seem surprising that there are scholarship opportunities for graduate nurses that are not available for undergraduates. It’s not so surprising when one considers that nurse practitioners can take on primary care duties once reserved for doctors. No, they’re not medical doctors, but they are doctor nurses in more than one sense of the word.

Those who are using the DNP as an entry point into a nurse practitioner or nurse-midwife role may qualify for loan scholarship or loan forgiveness programs through the HRSA. The loan educator program is an option for others. Employees of the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, or Kentucky Children’s have an additional option. They may qualify for as many as eight hours a semester of free tuition at the University of Kentucky. Students at the Frontier School, meanwhile, are eligible for $5,000 scholarships if they commit to working at Frontier Nursing for two years.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Kentucky

Check out the schools of nursing offering DNP Programs Online.

Frontier Nursing University

Contact Information:
P.O. Box 528 195
Hyden, KY 41749
PH: 606-672-2312


University of Kentucky College of Nursing

Contact Information:
Office of Student Services
315 College of Nursing Bldg.
Lexington, KY 40536-0232
PH: 859-323-5108


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