Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Rhode Island

In February of 2011, Rhode Island began its first DNP program. The University of Rhode Island joined more than 120 other programs that offer practice doctorates for nurses. It also joined the growing movement to provide improved patient care and advocacy — a movement that has spread greatly in the span of one decade. The movement was sparked by reports of a failing healthcare system. In 2001, the Institute of Medicine reported that it took 17 years for scientific research to become part of common clinical practice. The IOM also reported that the healthcare system was fragmented. The system wasted resources while failing to provide patients with chronic conditions the care that they needed.

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The American Association of Colleges of Nursing was quick to respond. In 2002, the organization began a task force to study doctoral level nursing. Two years later, they announced their findings. They had determined that the practice doctorate offered advanced practice nurses the best preparation; thus, it was to become the new standard. Over the next two years, the AACN conducted further task forces and met with representatives of member colleges. They put together a roadmap for change. By 2015, they determined, the transformation could be complete.

Other organizations have come out in support of doctoral level education for nurses. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently set a goal of doubling the number of nurses with doctoral degrees.

DNP Program Specializations an Entry Paths

DNP programs are designed for both advanced practice nurses and nursing leaders. Indeed, there are separate tracks for direct and indirect care. Whatever the specialty, DNP programs share some common elements. They are based on the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing. Among the standards is clinical scholarship. Doctorate level nurses are expected to evaluate medical literature, implement evidence-based practices, design quality improvement methodologies, and act as consultants.

Another standard is population health. Nurses have a long tradition of working to prevent illness. The DNP gives them further tools to accomplish this. Advanced practice nurses are expected to analyze a range of data — biostatistical, epidemiologic, and occupational — in order to develop and implement disease prevention programs. They also work to create delivery care models that are effective for different populations.

Other standards include leadership, health information technology, and health care policy. These competencies will help nurses extend their influence beyond their own practice. The AACN expects advanced practice nurses to become advocates for needed system level change.

DNP candidates have the opportunity to make an impact while still enrolled in school. Candidates complete a final project which involves translational research — applying evidence and knowledge to solve particular problems. The final project is generally carried out in conjunction with clinical practice hours. Master’s level advanced practice courses have generally required 500 or more hours of post-baccalaureate clinical practice; doctoral level programs require 1,000. With the exception of the clinical requirement, many programs are conducted as online or blended learning. This allows students a greater range of program choices. It is also one way that nursing schools meet the needs of working professionals.

Some DNP programs admit post-BSN students. Others, termed DNP completion courses, give master’s level advanced practice nurses the additional courses they need. The program at the University of Rhode Island is designed to meet the needs of family nurse practitioners, gerontological nurse practitioners, gerontological clinical nurse specialists, and mental health clinical nurse specialists. Nursing executives and advanced practice nurses in other specialties may want to look into online programs or programs in neighboring New England states.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Rhode Island

Schools offering Online DNP Programs in Rhode Island.

University of Rhode Island College of Nursing

Contact Information:
2 Heathman Rd.
Kingston, RI 02881
PH: 401-874-5314


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