Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Oregon

Oregon’s nurses now have the opportunity to take their professional education to the highest level: a practice doctorate or DNP. For nurse practitioners entering the field, the DNP will soon be the standard. The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing began a task force in 2002 to examine doctorate programs and see what they had to offer. The committee determined that in an increasingly complex (and sometimes fragmented) healthcare system, the doctorate best prepared nurses to not only deliver top quality care, but become leaders. They noted that master’s programs had lengthened, and were already much longer than many master’s programs in other fields; newly graduated NPs often had much more education than their credentials indicate. Future nurse practitioners would have even more education -- but also a degree that showed it off.

The AANP hopes that the DNP will not only improve healthcare, but make the nursing field more attractive to professionals in other fields. Nurses who are already practicing at the highest levels can choose whether they want to pursue the DNP. It is not a requirement for remaining licensed or certified. There are, of course, advantages to taking the program. DNP programs in Oregon include courses in informatics and health systems as well as advanced clinical work. Students have the opportunity to pursue projects in areas that will advance their own practice. Many nurses continually add to their knowledge base through conferences, collaboration, and independent study. These nurses may enjoy having a degree that reflects their level of expertise.

Nurses sometimes ask whether getting the doctorate will allow them to take on new roles. Tracy Klein, Consultant to the Oregon Board of Nursing, addressed this question on Medscape. A nurse’s scope of practice is determined by the Nurse Practice Act in his or her state; getting another degree or credential by itself does nothing to change his or her legal scope of practice. However, Klein notes, expanded roles have historically been preceded by increases in education.

A Bit About DNP Programs

DNP programs share some commonalities, regardless of focus. They are based on the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing, released by the AACN. Topics include advanced clinical competencies, research methodologies, leadership issues, healthcare policy, and health prevention at the population level. The course of study usually concludes with a capstone project which requires translational research. (In other words, candidates demonstrate their ability to apply existing knowledge to particular populations and problems).

There are a number of program tracks for those that are ready for doctorate level education. Options include traditional nurse practitioner tracks as well as nurse-midwifery and clinical nurse specialist. At Oregon Health and Science University, there is an additional option to focus one’s studies on rural health needs. This track is open to prospective nurse practitioners in the family and psychiatric mental health specialties as well as to clinical nurse specialists and post-master’s students.

Coursework for postmaster’s nurses is especially flexible. There are clinical hours, of course, but most coursework is done online, so it’s generally only necessary to spend a few weekends a semester at a Portland campus. (Post-baccalaureate students may have additional courses that must be completed on campus.) The University of Portland program is part-time with three or four immersion weekends a semester. For post-master’s students, the curriculum is individualized, and candidates should submit prior coursework for review. At the highest levels of nursing education, there is indeed room for creativity and innovation!

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Oregon

star Check out the nursing schools offering Online DNP Programs.

Oregon Health and Science University

3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Rd.
Portland, Oregon 97239-3098
PH: 503-494-7725

Website: ohsu.edu/xd/education/schools/school-of-nursing/programs/doctoral/doctor-nursing-practice/index.cfm

University of Portland

Buckley Center 315, MSC 153
5000 N Willamette Blvd
Portland, Oregon 97203
PH: 503-943-7211

Website: nursing.up.edu/default.aspx?cid=8002&pid=207

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