Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in South Dakota

Should the DNP become the entry level degree for advanced practice nurses? Loretta Ford, co-founder of the nurse practitioner role, is one of many who has come out in support of the practice doctorate. Speaking before a general meeting of the AANP, she applauded nurse practitioners while at the same time calling on them to achieve more. She asked NPs to create innovative new practice models as well continue their focus on prevention-oriented care.

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Ford is not the only influential person to simultaneously laud the achievements of advanced practice nurses and call for an increase in educational standards. There is no contradiction if one considers that many believe that the healthcare system as a whole is outdated, fragmented, and desperately in need of reform. The Institute of Medicine has pointed out several failings in the infrastructure. One is that there are too many medical errors. Another is that there is too much focus on acute care and crisis management. If healthcare practitioners collaborated across fields, they could do a much better job of managing chronic conditions. This is increasingly important as the population ages.

Still another cause for concern is the lag between scientific research and clinical practice. The IOM has claimed that this lag time in the dissemination of information is seventeen years. The advanced practice nurse of the future uses research effectively in her own practice. She also collaborates with healthcare professionals in other fields. This achieves multiple purposes: reforming healthcare policy and ensuring quality care for individuals.

The AACN has noted that master’s programs for advanced practice nurses have seen a good deal of ‘credit creep’ and are already longer than the typical master’s degree. APNs are not getting credit for their expertise, and this can be a hindrance if they are to be equal partners in much needed reform. The new program is longer and more rigorous than the old one, but not quite as much as one might imagine.

The DNP is a national movement, but it draws its character from the local terrain. One of the goals of the DNP, according to South Dakota State University, is to train advanced practice nurses for the state’s reservations and rural areas.

DNP Program Tracks and Entry Pathways

For a rural state, South Dakota has a surprising array of choices. Students entering at the post-baccalaureate stage may choose from family care, mental health, neonatal, and pediatric nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialties. Collaboration is a key tenet of the practice doctorate. DNP programs model this by sharing resources between institutions. Some programs in South Dakota are a cooperative venture with the University of Missouri.

DNP programs address specialty-specific competencies and also general competencies developed by the AACN. One standard is leadership. Outcomes include the ability to evaluate care delivery, ensure accountability, employ principles of economics, and develop budgets; candidates should display the level of communication ability necessary to lead patient safety initiatives or quality improvement programs. Another very important standard is analytical methods and scholarship. The graduate should be adept at appraising medical literature, analyzing data, making predictions, and applying the findings to a variety of situations. Applications might include evaluating a community against national benchmarks or developing practice guidelines.

The final capstone project allows nurses to apply the standards to a real world problem. Several 2010 DNP students at Vanderbilt University created scholarly projects that spoke directly to safety concerns posed by the IOM and AACN. One, for example, identified crucial configuration components of a particular health information technology system, compiled these into a checklist, and used the results to evaluate the system at a health center. Other students explored health at the epidemiological level. One explored the issues surrounding the higher rates of diabetes and coronary heart disease that were found in rural communities. She concluded that nurse practitioners could play an important role in prevention.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in South Dakota

Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in South Dakota.

South Dakota State University

Contact Information:
Wagner Hall 217
Box: 2275
Brookings, SD 57007
PH: 605-688-4114


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