Nurses who want to gain additional knowledge in their field may choose to pursue a master’s or doctorate degree. One common doctorate degree available to RNs is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). It focuses on systems or clinical areas and produces nurses who can fill administrative and leadership roles in public policy, informatics, education, or administration. To prepare them for these positions, aspiring DNP degree holders also need to choose the right program at the right school.
Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs
Advanced practice nurses can be a “doctor” in their own right if they complete the Doctor of Nursing Practice program. It was first endorsed in 2004 by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. By 2015, it became the only doctorate degree that produce advanced registered practice nurses.
The doctoral degree program prepares nurses to provide clinical care in their area of specialty. It also allows nurses to become advanced practice RNs and advocates for the field through nursing policy, education and administration.
Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs
The Doctor of Nursing Practice programs accept only RNs with a Bachelor of Science or a Master of Science in nursing. It can be completed in 40 months for those with a BSN and about 21 months for those with an MSN.
To accommodate the busy schedule of working RNs, most Doctor of Nursing Practice programs are completed online. Their typical coursework includes subjects in health policy, health systems, financial management, business principles, public health and research, and leadership, in addition to the subjects required by their chosen area of specialization. Doctorate students in these programs may choose to become specialists as nursing leaders, nurse anesthetics, and family nurse practitioners, among others.
However, the Doctor of Nursing Practice program is not 100% online. Students still need to attend seminars, make on-campus visits, finish assessments, and submit a final project. They are also required to complete a certain amount of clinical hours on-site as part of the program.
Top Nursing Graduate Schools
Those who are interested in taking graduate studies, such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, may go to the top nursing graduate schools of the University of Washington and the University of California.
The University of Washington in Seattle, Washington ranked #4 among the nursing graduate schools in the US, according to the 2016 US News & World Report’s rankings. The school offers a Master of Science in Clinical Informatics and Patient-centered Technologies, Master of Nursing in Community Health Nursing, Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science, and Doctor of Nursing Practice. On top of these, they also offer Graduate Certificate Programs in Advanced Practice Nursing.
The University of California in San Francisco, California was ranked second place among the best graduate schools in the US by the US News & World Report in their 2016 rankings. Their School of Nursing offers a Masters Entry Program in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, PhD in Nursing, and Online MS Healthcare Administration & Interprofessional Leadership program.
For those who want to complete Doctor of Nursing Practice programs online, there are few online universities offering the program, too. These include Kaplan University, Capella University, Wilkes University, and others.