DNP Programs Online
In October of 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed a position statement that proposed the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree be the entry degree required for all advanced practice nurses.
One year later in October of 2005, the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the accrediting body of the AACN, announced that the only practice doctoral programs which would be eligible for CCNE accreditation would be those with the title of Doctor of Nursing Practice.
The Transition to Doctor of Nursing Practice
Previously, the level of preparation required for advanced nursing practice roles was a Master’s in Nursing (MN/MSN). These Master’s programs provided students with the necessary preparation required to sit for certification in advanced nursing practice roles like Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse-Midwife, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
The 2004 proposal from the AACN called for changing the entry degree from a Master’s to the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree by the year 2015. An AACN task force with representatives from the CCNE was charged with documenting the DNP Essentials – the curricular expectations for practice doctorates in nursing. In October of 2006, they published The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Practice.
As of Jan 2012, there are already more than 160 CCNE accredited practice doctoral programs.
How Long to Earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?
This depends on several factors. Most schools offer a part-time and full-time option for the program. Obviously, you can earn the DNP sooner if you can go to school full-time. Also, the time it takes to complete the program depends on your current level of education.
Assuming you have already earned a Master of Science in Nursing, you can expect to spend 18-24 months if enrolled full-time or 30-36 months if enrolled part-time. With a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can expect to spend 4-5 years, maybe more to complete the program.
Job Opportunities for DNP Graduates
While some nurses seek the DNP degree because of a desire to hold leadership and senior management positions or to become a nurse educator, the majority seek this distinguished degree to further improve their Advanced Practice Nursing skills. Regardless of the track being pursued, DNP graduates could be well prepared for some great career opportunities in the field of clinical nursing.