Practice Doctorate Programs in Wyoming

Wyoming’s nurse practitioners have the opportunity to take their education to the highest level: a practice doctor or DNP. The state may not have a DNP program in operation as of 2011 - this does not, however, mean that preparation hasn’t been underway for a long time. Wyoming has been right there at the forefront of change.

In 2004, the AACN published a position paper that doctorate level education should become the standard for nurse practitioners. They noted that the role was expanding, and that nurse practitioners were already taking a program that was longer and more demanding than most other master’s courses. Still, there were competencies that weren’t addressed. There have been various studies demonstrating that nurse practitioners handle their roles well -- that they give comparable primary care to that of physicians. The AACN notes, though, that there are too many poor outcomes in healthcare overall.

That same year, faculty members at Wyoming’s Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing collected data from nurse practitioners at two national conferences. 51% of respondents indicated that they felt that they had been only “somewhat” or “minimally” prepared when they finished their initial training as nurse practitioners. Armed with this data, the school’s nursing educators became staunch advocates of change. The University of Wyoming team felt that the perceptions of nurse practitioners should help guide program development.

Across the nation, too, nurses’ voices were heeded. Between 2004 and 2006, the AACN held forums and meetings in a number of locations. This helped the organization put together a roadmap for transition and also a set of essential standards.

What Does the DNP Program Mean for Wyoming Nurses?

The DNP program at UW was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2010. The University of Wyoming expects to begin its DNP program in the summer of 2012. Like all accredited DNP programs, the program will incorporate the eight essential standards, including leadership, scholarship, technology, and healthcare advocacy. Doctoral level nurses are expected to synthesize a wide variety of scientific materials and use the information in the interest of public health as well as individual health. There will be two tracks: family practice and psychiatric/ mental health. The UW website notes that the focus will still be on delivering basic healthcare to Wyoming’s rural residents. The new doctorate program, though, will be much more than an expansion of the old one. The UW has re-conceptualized the curriculum as opposed to tacking on doctoral level courses to the existing master’s program.

NPs don’t need to suspend employment to finish their education. The University of Wyoming will offer a part time option for practicing NPs who want to complete their doctorate. Nurse practitioners can expand their knowledge on several fronts -- public health, professional leadership, advanced diagnosis -- by entering a DNP program. This doesn’t mean that those who don’t choose this route should fear losing their licensing, however. There is no legislation to change standards for nurse practitioners. What legislation has been posed in Wyoming? Senate File 0098 proposes to add a few lines to hospital bylaws to explicitly note that advanced practice nurses are allowed to admit patients to hospitals.

Nurse practitioners in family practice and mental health take care of the most basic health needs in rural communities; these two specialties will go a long way toward meeting the needs of Wyoming’s advanced practice nurses. Those who are considering an NP track that UW doesn’t offer should know that Wyoming is a part of WICHE. What that means is this: A student who wants to take a graduate degree program that is not offered in her own state can sometimes take one in a partner state and be charged the in-state tuition rate. New programs are added periodically.

Contact Information for DNP Programs in Wyoming

star Learn about the schools offering DNP Programs Online in Wyoming.

University of Wyoming Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing

PH: 307-766-6564

Website: uwyo.edu/NURSING/programs/DNP/index.html

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