Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs in West Virginia

What should an advanced practice nurse consider in order to ensure the best care to his/her own patients as well as to his or her community? Professional nursing organizations believe that the practice doctorate or DNP is the ideal educational path. The Institute of Medicine, abbreviated IOM, has painted a dark picture of the American healthcare system: fragmentation, communication of new information is lacking, and frequent errors. The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing, meanwhile, decided that they must determine whether the doctoral level of education can transform nurses into solution-seekers and solution-finders. In 2004, the AACN released the results of a two-year task force that explored what the doctorate level education would mean to the advanced practice nursing community. They concluded that the DNP education should become the standard or terminal degree for nurses currently in or pursuing advanced practice nursing roles. These roles include nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical Nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists.

This call to action has sometimes been referred to as a mandate, and nurse practitioners of course wonder how it will impact their career and educational paths. The National Pediatric Certification Board (NPCB) recently addressed this issue stating that their organization monitors changing roles over time. They conduct practice analysis research on a regular basis and will monitor the influence of the DNP over a span of ten to fifteen years. At some point in the future, they may determine that the nurse practitioner role has changed to the degree that entry level practice requires additional competencies; at such time, they will change their requirements for board certification. The changes, though, would apply only to those seeking initial certification.

Other boards will likely follow a similar process. Over time, advanced practice roles have expanded, the healthcare system has grown more complex, and educational standards have increased. It has never been a quick process, though. APNs shouldn’t fear the changes. They may, however, choose to take advantage of new opportunities to prepare for the future of their profession.

DNP Program Design and Specialization Options

DNP programs are based on the “Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice Nursing”, published by the AACN in 2006. One standard is population health. Candidates are expected to analyze biostatistical and epidemiological data and use it for a variety of purposes. Applications might include implementing or evaluating disease programs, improving access, or addressing gaps in meeting healthcare needs. Another standard is interprofessional relationships. Doctoral level nurses should be able to lead interdisciplinary teams, act as consultants, and display effective communication when collaborating. Professional contexts could include health policy initiatives, peer reviews, or development of practice models and guidelines.

Master's level advanced practice courses have traditionally required 500 hours of practicum work. Doctoral level courses require 1,000, but they may include new experiences which take the student beyond basic patient care. One of the purposes of post-master's practicum work is to allow the student to collect data for a scholarly project. Typically, this involves translational research -- i.e. applying existing knowledge to solve problems at the population level. Projects may be quality control studies, cost benefit analyses and/ or new programs or delivery models. A 2010 student at Vanderbilt University, for example, interviewed staff and families at the neonatal intensive care unit. She determined that an interdisciplinary team was needed to revise existing policies. Staff members also needed additional education in family-centered care.

As of 2011, West Virginia has one DNP program, at West Virginia University. It is a post-MSN program that admits nurses from a range of specialty areas; this includes nurse administrators as well as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. Candidates do need to hold certification from a recognized certifying agency. Prerequisites include classes in advanced pharmacotherapy and in the research process. Applicants should expect to supply a personal statement and three letters of reference.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in West Virginia

star Find Colleges and Universities offering Online DNP Programs in West Virginia.

West Virginia University

P.O. Box 9600
Morgantown, WV 26506-9630
PH: 304-293-1386

Website: hsc.wvu.edu/son/academicPrograms_dnp.aspx

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