Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Oklahoma

In December of 2010, the University of Oklahoma began accepting applications to its DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program. The UO DNP program is the first program of its kind in the state, but it joins more than 120 such programs around the nation. Most of these programs began within the past seven years. According to American Association of Colleges of Nursing, many more are underway. Why, one might wonder, is doctoral education for nurses such a growing movement?

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The movement traces its origins to research — and activism — on the part of organizations like the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the AACN. In its 2006 Roadmap Report, the AACN summarizes the goals of the DNP movement. One is to bridge the wide gap that separates medical research from clinical practice. Another is to train nurses to work as part of interdisciplinary teams — a move that is necessary if the United States is to efficiently care for an aging population Still another is to increase the faculty pool. An even more integral reason is basic patient safety.

Motivated in part by dismal IOM reports, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing undertook a study of doctoral level programs for advanced practice nursing. They determined that additional coursework could help APNs become more effective at both direct and indirect patient care. The AACN, which represents more than 600 colleges nationwide, called for making the practice doctorate the standard for advanced practice nursing courses. They set a target date of 2015, a goal that might at first seem ambitious, but is well on its way. Accrediting bodies like CCNE and AANA have supported the goals while stopping short of mandating a 2015 deadline.

DNP Program Entry Points and Specializations

Nationwide, programs admit both post-BSN and post-MSN nurses. The program at Oklahoma State is designed for students who already have a master’s and are licensed as nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists. Nurses who are interested in specializing in an indirect patient care track (for example, management or informatics) may want to look into distance programs offered through other institutions.

One of the objectives of a practice doctorate is mastery of translational research; this involves taking existing knowledge and applying it at the population level. Population level research can be vital in a diverse state like Oklahoma because ethnicity impacts risk factors for various diseases, and cultural and language diversity can be barriers to healthcare access and education.

A DNP candidate typically completes a capstone project which addresses a real world problem. The capstone project may ultimately demonstrate a range of DNP competencies including health informatics, healthcare policy and advocacy, and leadership skills. Candidates sometimes work on education or outreach programs that target specific groups; they may either design a new program or evaluate one that is already in place. Candidates have also used existing medical records to identify risk factors for illness or potential issues with compliance.

Some students draw the inspiration for their project from their communities; others find it in their own lives. A 2010 Duke University graduate was motivated by the experience of having given birth (some twenty years earlier) to a child with autism. It was clear to her that autism was an area where there was a wealth of scientific data that wasn’t put to good use. Concerned that diagnosis still takes place too late, she put together a cost-effective early screening . Not only did she identify two toddlers who needed early intervention, she raised awareness at her practice site.

Nationwide, DNP candidates have focused on problems ranging from lack of access to community resources to failure to comply with heart disease lifestyle modifications.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Oklahoma

Find schools offering DNP Programs Online in Oklahoma.

University of Oklahoma

Contact Information:
PO Box 26901
Oklahoma City, OK 73126
PH: 405-271-2428


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