The popularity — and necessity — of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is on the rise. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), as of April 2016, there were 289 DNP programs in the U.S. enrolling students, with another 128 programs in the planning stage. These programs span 48 states, as well as the District of Columbia, emphasizing the growing demand for DNP-qualified nursing professionals across the country.
The AACN reported that a variety of factors are causing this movement toward the DNP in nursing academia, including:
- Rapid growth of knowledge regarding practice in the field.
- Increased complexity of patient care.
- Nationwide concerns regarding quality of care and safety of patients.
- Increased necessity of leaders who can assess and design care in light of current nursing shortages.
- Shortages of nursing faculty equipped with a doctoral degree.
- Growing educational expectations on other members of the health care team.
As the nursing field continues to evolve to encourage advanced nursing degrees, you may find that a DNP offers numerous benefits to your professional nursing career.
Your DNP through Bradley University
Through a DNP program, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge you need to pursue an advanced nursing position. Graduates find work in many facets of the health care field, including faculty positions, leadership roles and advanced practice clinical jobs.
While it is possible to earn a DNP at a physical campus, many nurses find that pursuing their degree online allows them the flexibility to continue working in clinical practice while furthering their education. Bradley University offers two online tracks to a DNP degree: the DNP – Family Nurse Practitioner (DNP – FNP) and the DNP –Leadership track.
The DNP-FNP allows nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to earn a doctorate-level education. Upon graduation, you will be prepared to pursue a career as an FNP.
If you already have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, the MSN to DNP – Leadership track allows you to maximize the credit you received from your bachelor’s and master’s programs en route to a doctorate through Bradley University. A DNP with a leadership emphasis can help you to pursue a career in a number of management positions:
- Nurse executive
- Chief nursing officer
- Nurse educator
- Nurse administrator
- Health care director
- Nursing care facility administrator
To apply to either track of Bradley’s online DNP program, you must meet the following requirements:
A DNP program is academically rigorous. As such, it is important to show the evaluation committee that you will be able to handle the challenge of taking courses at such a high level.
If you wish to enroll in the online DNP – FNP track, you previously must have earned a BSN degree from an NLNAC-, ACEN- or CCNE-accredited* nursing program.
To enroll in the online DNP – Leadership track, you must hold an MSN from an NLNAC-, ACEN- or CCNE-accredited* nursing program. You also are required to have completed an undergraduate statistics course previous to enrollment.
For both tracks, you must have a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale for previously completed coursework.
To give the admission office an accurate picture of the past degrees you completed and the grades you earned, you will need to submit official academic transcripts from all academic institutions you previously attended. Be sure to ask how long the institutions will take to deliver these documents to ensure that they arrive by the admission deadline.
*The master’s degree program in Nursing, Post-Graduate APRN Certificate program, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Bradley University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (http://www.ccneaccreditation.org).
In addition to proving that you are academically prepared to succeed in a DNP program, you will need to demonstrate your professional aptitude. One of the primary ways this is accomplished is by including proof of a current nursing license in your application to either track.
To pursue enrollment specifically in the online DNP – Leadership track, you additionally will need to include verification of the number of supervised clinical hours that you completed during your master’s program.
To explain your professional qualifications, you will be required to submit with your application a resume that details your work experience.
Kim Isaacs, Monster resume expert, suggested that nursing resumes should include:
- A qualifications summary
- An expertise section
- Detailed descriptions of your nursing experience
List your current and previous workplaces with succinct, bullet-point descriptions that emphasize your accomplishments.
Your previous educational experiences are also an important component of your resume. Though your academic transcripts will communicate the exact courses you completed and grades you received, you can use your resume to highlight particular areas that may not be on the official document.
“In your education section, mention any academic honors, scholarships and fellowships,” Isaacs suggested. “New grads should consider including their GPA (if impressive) and related courses. Experienced nurses may decide to briefly mention their clinical rotations in the education section. Licensure fits nicely in the education section — include the state where you are licensed and the date achieved.”
Keep your resume in a simple format that easily can be downloaded.
In your application package, you will need to include several additional documents to give the admission office a more complete picture of who you are as a candidate. One of these documents is an admission essay, which is your chance to explain why you are applying to the program and what makes you a good candidate for admission. In your essay, you should also include a list of potential preceptors.
You also are required to submit two letters of recommendation written by non-family members who can attest to your personal, professional or academic qualifications. Keep in mind that an impressive title alone does not make a good reference. Your recommenders should be people who are articulate and familiar with your professional and personal accomplishments and abilities. A well-written letter from a manager that details your experiences and skills tends to be more impressive than two sentences from a hospital CEO who cannot speak personally to your qualifications.
Try to speak to your recommenders at least two months before the application deadline to ensure that the references will be completed in time. If you wait until the last minute and someone falls through, you may not have enough time to replace that person.
Additionally, a non-refundable $40 application fee must be submitted with your application.
If you have additional questions about Bradley University’s online DNP application process, please contact the admission office at (877) 203-7499 to learn more.