The DNP degree represents the culmination of study that prepares graduates for advanced levels of nursing practice. Emphasis is placed on nursing care that is based upon philosophical, ethical, and scientific principles. In addition to the advanced clinical practice series, all students enroll in core courses focusing on concepts essential for analysis and evaluation of practice outcomes. Students select an area for scholarly examination of internal and external factors that influence nursing care in their clinical areas. This process guides the students in identification and evaluation of practice issues. Students collaborate with expert clinicians in their specialty areas.
Course work in all DNP concentrations, other than Nurse Anesthesia, is conducted primarily online with required, week-long, on-campus sessions three times yearly. Faculty meet with students during the on- campus sessions for classroom instruction, exams, student presentations, competency testing, and advisement. Clinical experiences are scheduled in proximity to the student’s residence.
Students wear their UTHSC picture identification while on-campus and at clinical sites. Student placement in clinical sites is verified by preceptors, and faculty conduct clinical site visits or videoconferencing sessions with the student and preceptors.
Upon completion of the DNP Program, the graduate will be able to:
- Demonstrate advanced levels of clinical judgment/scholarship in nursing practice.
- Critically analyze complex clinical situations and practice systems.
- Evaluate and apply conceptual models, theories, and research in order to improve healthcare of diverse populations.
- Systematically investigate a clinically focused area of nursing in order to advance healthcare.
- Analyze the social, economic, political, and policy components of healthcare systems which affect care planning and delivery.
- Assume leadership roles in the development of clinical practice models, health policy, and standards of care.
- Integrate professional values and ethical decision-making in advanced nursing practice.
Admission Process and Minimum Requirements
Registered nurses with either a bachelor of science in nursing or a master of science in nursing seeking preparation for advanced practice may apply to the following DNP program concentrations: (1) Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, (2) Family Nurse Practitioner, (3) Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, (4) Nurse Anesthesia, (5) Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and (6) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Applicants may choose to complete a plan of study enabling completion of the Family Nurse Practitioner concentration with either (a) Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner or (b) Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
Admission is once per year. All application materials (for example: application, application fee, recommendations, test results, and official transcripts from all colleges attended) must be submitted by the application deadline in order for students to be considered for admission. Deadlines for the DNP program applications are:
DNP Nurse Anesthesia concentration
DNP Program (all concentrations except Nurse Anesthesia)
Instructions for submitting applications to the DNP Program are available on the College of Nursing website: http://www.uthsc.edu/nursing/academic%20programs/DNP/. Applications are submitted through Nursing CAS: http://nursingcas.org/. Admission to the DNP Program is competitive. Only applicants who meet minimum academic requirements will be considered for admission; however, applicants who meet minimal requirements are not guaranteed admission.
Academic Preparation and Achievement Admission Criteria
Applicants must document evidence of having earned a bachelor of science in nursing or higher degree in nursing from an accredited nursing program. Only applicants with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 based on all collegiate work or a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 earned during the applicant’s most recently completed degree program will be considered for admission. The GPA calculation for the most recently completed degree will be based only on those grades earned at the degree- granting institution. Applicants may submit additional documents to demonstrate professional scholarship and leadership abilities that could make them more competitive.
Essay, Professional Recommendations, and Interview Criteria
In addition to academic qualifications, applicants are assessed through (1) an essay; (2) professional recommendations; and (3) interviews.
- Essay - The purpose of the essay is to provide the College of Nursing Admissions Committee further insight into the professional goals, motivation, and expectations of the applicant and to evaluate written communication skills. Applicants are asked to provide written responses to specific questions during their on-campus interview session.
- Recommendation Forms - Applicants must submit 3 Recommendation Forms from graduate prepared nurses or faculty members who can address their potential or ability for functioning in the advanced practice role (clinical skills, critical thinking, independent decision making, collaborative skills with other health professionals, and nursing leadership). Applicants currently enrolled in a BSN or MSN program should have at least 1 Recommendation Form submitted by a faculty member in that program.
- Interview - Applicants meeting admission criteria and selected for further admission consideration must participate in an interview for the purpose of evaluating communication and decision-making skills, educational goals and current leadership, scholarship, practice roles and activities. The interview will be in-person, face-to-face unless extraordinary circumstances warrant other arrangements. The DNP Program Director is charged with the responsibility for making decisions related to “extraordinary circumstances.” Match of applicant’s educational goals with faculty programs of practice is an important factor assessed in the interview.
English Language Proficiency
If native tongue is not English, evidence of proficiency in English is documented through the submission of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. Minimum proficiency scores: 550 on TOEFL paper version, 213 on TOEFL computer version, and 80 on TOEFL Web-based version. TOEFL scores must have been earned within two years prior to application. Applicants may request exemption from the TOEFL examination requirement, for example, an earned high school degree from a U.S. secondary education institution. Requests must be submitted before the application deadline to the Director of Student Affairs, (901) 448-6125.
DNP Program Concentration Specific Admission Criteria
Applicants to the DNP program are considered for admission to their selected specialty concentrations within the College of Nursing. The total number of students admitted to the DNP program will vary depending on the number of positions available in each specialty concentration. Additionally, applicants may be more or less competitive within a concentration based on previous performance in selected course work.
Nurse Anesthesia Concentration Specific Admission Criteria:
- Grades in basic sciences, are considered in addition to the cumulative GPA..
- Students must submit Graduate Record Examination scores. Official scores must have been earned within 5 years of the application deadline date [September 1].
- Students must provide evidence of at least one year of critical care experience at time of interview.
- In addition of basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification, applicants must provide evidence of advanced cardiopulmonary life support certification (ACLS) and pediatric advanced life support (PALS) certification.
- Recommendations should be completed by faculty members who can address academic ability and one recommendation form should be completed by an employer or professional who can address professional performance.
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Concentration Specific Admission Criteria:
- At least one year of acute pediatric or neonatal intensive care experience prior to admission.
Dual Concentration (FNP/AG-ACNP or FNP/PMHNP) Specific Admission Criteria:
- At least one year of experience as a registered nurse prior to admission.
Interview and Acceptance Notifications
Interviews for the DNP Nurse Anesthesia concentration will be conducted in mid-September and decision notification sent via email in early October. Interviews for all other DNP concentrations will be conducted in March. Students will be notified of admission decisions by email within three months of the application deadline, so at or before April 15. Applicants who meet minimum requirements are not guaranteed admission. Admission preference is given to residents of Tennessee, but out-of-state applicants are also given consideration. Questions regarding residency status should be addressed to the UTHSC Assistant Director of Enrollment Services, 910 Madison Avenue, Suite 520, Memphis, TN 38163, (901) 448-5560. After admission to the College of Nursing, students pay a $75 non-refundable admission fee to UTHSC and a guaranteed enrollment deposit. The guaranteed enrollment deposit is non-refundable and the deposit is applied to the first term tuition.
Detailed DNP program description, admission requirements, and program curricula can be found at http://www.uthsc.edu/nursing/academic%20programs/DNP/
Students must complete required immunizations, a successful criminal background check and drug screening prior to matriculation. Students must receive medical clearance to meet technical and performance standards. Registered nurses must have and maintain an unencumbered nursing license with authority to practice in Tennessee for the duration of the program. Evidence of current cardiopulmonary certification must be presented and certification must be maintained throughout the duration of the program. Background checks and drug screens may be repeated during the student’s program of study. Students must maintain health and professional liability insurance during enrollment in the program.
Technical and Performance Standards: All DNP Concentrations
In addition the technical and performance standards expected of all students in educational programs in the College of Nursing, students in the DNP program are also expected to possess the mental, auditory, visual, sensory, strength, manual dexterity, and communication skills to:
- Perform a systematic and complete history and physical examination on a client.
- Communicate significant examination findings to other professionals and client/family.
- Appropriately assess and record subjective and objective findings.
- Maintain effective relationships and interact appropriately with other professionals and clients/families, demonstrating skills of leadership collaborations and decisiveness.
- Accurately analyze alterations in functional patterns.
- Demonstrate advanced use of the nursing process: assess, develop, implement, educate and counsel clients, prescribe appropriate therapy, demonstrate self-care skills and evaluate appropriate plans of action for diagnosed problems.
- Maintain flexibility and emotional stability in response to novel, unique situations and stress.
Additional Technical and Performance Standards Specific to Nurse Anesthesia Concentration
- Safely provide airway management and be able to maintain advanced life support systems while operating and interpreting multiple monitoring modalities.
- Rapidly respond and intervene in emergency situations requiring anesthesia care throughout the spectrum of practice settings.
Additional Technical and Performance Standards Specific to Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Concentration
- Anticipate common, acute, and life-threatening problems encountered in critically ill patients.
- Identify ethical issues in critical care practice and participate in ethical decision making using a systematic approach.
- Develop/participate in the development of theory based educational programs for critically ill patients/families and nursing personnel.
- Analyze/critique critical care research and demonstrate/role model the appropriate integration of research into practice.
Technical and Performance Standards Specific to Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Anticipate potential common, acute self-limiting, and selected chronic problems.
- Develop insight into own emotional functioning to evaluate the ability to provide therapeutic intervention for a client.
If a student cannot fulfill these Technical and Performance Standards, with or without accommodations, at any time in the program, the student will be ineligible for admission or continued progression in the DNP Program. In addition to assuring that students can meet the intellectual, emotional, and physical criteria for the DNP Program, it is of utmost importance that students have the ability to provide for the safety and welfare of their patients and others. Reasonable accommodations will be provided, when appropriate, to help student meet these Technical and Professional Standards. Determination of eligibility and recommendations of accommodations must be made by Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion http://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/. Any student wishing accommodations must contact the university’s Office of Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion at 901-448-5056 (email: SASSI@uthsc.edu).
The DNP program is currently accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through 2024. The Nurse Anesthesia concentration is also accredited through the Council on Accreditation (COA) through 2019.
Classroom, Clinical and Lab Hours Ratio per Credit
The clinical and laboratory hour per credit hour ratio in courses taught in the DNP program is 4:1. Thus, 1 credit equates to 60 hours of clinical or laboratory experience over the course of the term, as well as additional student effort of approximately 30 hours related to preparation for the clinical and laboratory experiences. For didactic courses, a traditional 3 credit-hour course using a face-to-face lecture format involves approximately 45 contact hours as well as 90 or more hours of additional student effort over the course of the term. For didactic courses taught online or using a hybrid format, a 3 credit-hour course would involve at least 135 hours of student effort over the term.
Length of Program and Sample Curricular Schema
Detailed DNP program concentration descriptions and concentration specific program curricula can be found at http://www.uthsc.edu/nursing/academic%20programs/DNP/. Samples of typical curricular full-time curricular schema are provided for each of the DNP concentrations, including pathways for students entering with or without advanced practice certification. Any modification in the schemas for a given entering class will be provided during new student orientation.
For students enrolled full-time in the DNP program, the length of the program is 1.5-3 years, dependent upon whether the student (1) enrolls post-BSN or post-MSN; (2) is post-MSN with advanced practice certification in the area of study; or (3) is enrolling an a dual program. Structured part-time plans of study are available in select DNP concentrations and can be completed in 2.5 to 4.5 years. Part-time study is not available for students in the Nurse Anesthesia or dual concentrations. Plans of study are provided during summer advisement sessions with course coordinators.