Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in Utah

Some people in the medical community wonder why nurses feel the need for doctoral level education. The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions describes the DNP graduate as a “sophisticated consumer of research.” Key organizations believe this is the direction that healthcare needs to take. The Institute of Medicine published some shocking reports at the beginning of the century. They asserted that it could take seventeen years for research to be translated into clinical practice. The IOM also traced unfavorable outcomes, including patient deaths, to gaps in communication. They described groups of healthcare providers as islands, cut off from others whose information they needed.

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The DNP can be seen as a response by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Spurred by reports of a failing healthcare system, they began a task force in 2004. Their mission was to examine doctoral level nursing programs and determine whether they were an effective part of the solution. Their verdict, after two years of study, was that such programs should become the standard for advanced practice nurses. The AACN believed that DNP-trained nurses would not only become more effective in their own clinical practice, but expand their sphere of influence. The higher degree would allow them to work with other healthcare practitioners in reshaping the American healthcare system.

After conducting focus groups and soliciting information from individuals around the nation, they put together both a curricular framework and a transition timeline. All APN programs were to be transitioned by 2015. The AACN’s transition has been seen alternately as a mandate and a strong call to action. Other organizations, including the accrediting bodies, AANA and CCNE, have embraced their ideals while stopping short of mandating the 2015 deadline.

The DNP is seen as an exciting option by many. The number of practice doctorate programs has ballooned, yet some qualified students are still turned away for lack of openings.

DNP Entry Paths and Specializations

Utah nurses are no strangers to doctoral level education. The Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions offers a number of PhD options for nurses. What is so unique about the DNP? The DNP, or Doctorate of Nursing Practice, is focused not on creating new knowledge and theory, but on bridging the gap between theory and practice. The final project involves translational research; nursing students take existing knowledge and use it to solve problems. They create, evaluate, and improve programs and delivery models for the populations they work with. Practice doctorate programs also include classes in advanced clinical competencies.

A practice doctorate is not synonymous with a clinical doctorate. Many schools offer separate tracks for APNs and nurse leaders. The University of Utah, for instance, offers an Organizational/ Community/ Population track for those interested in indirect patient care. Direct patient care tracks include primary care, acute care, women’s health, nurse midwife, and neonatal.

Some programs admit students at the post-baccalaureate or post-master’s level. Others currently admit only students who have already attained their master’s. DNP completion programs are sometimes able to accommodate students across specialties. Nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists may enroll in the same classes as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. Preceptors and advisors help doctoral candidates tailor the curriculum to their own needs — and those of the populations they serve.

Many DNP programs are on a limited residency model. This means most of the coursework is technology-facilitated and can be completed at a distance. Prospective students should be aware that there is a post-baccalaureate clinical hour requirement of 1,000 hours; generally, this involves at least 500 hours beyond what is required for a master’s level advanced practice course.

Doctoral level programs are competitive. Admission requirements include resume, recommendation letters, and essays.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Utah

Find schools offering Online DNP Programs in Utah.

Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

Contact Information:
561 East 1860
SouthProvo, UT, 84606
PH: 866-780-4107


University of Utah College of Nursing

Contact Information:
10 South 2000 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
PH: 801-581-3414


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