By Kelly Brooks-Staub
According to a new ruling by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) will become the required degree for new advanced practice nurses by the year 2015. How should the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing implement a DNP program? The school has established a task force to investigate that question and recommend models for a Hopkins DNP. In December, the task force launched a survey on the school’s website to learn what nurses would want from a DNP program. Task force members e-mailed their friends and colleagues, including Johns Hopkins nursing alumni. More than 500 nurses responded within the first month.
For half of respondents (51 percent), having intensive clinical experience with experts in the field is the most important component of a DNP program. “My MSN at Hopkins was a great experience, but I and fellow grads have often discussed the need for a more science-heavy, intensive education beyond the master’s … more focused clinical time akin to a medical residency,” noted one alum. When deciding which DNP program to attend, cost is the largest determining factor (68 percent). But about 60 percent of respondents also said that scholarship opportunities, school reputation, and class schedule were each important factors. Quality and diversity of in-depth clinical and residency opportunities would be a deciding factor for 24 percent of respondents.
“This new trend in nursing education will impact the entire nursing profession. Seeking the opinions of nurses—both prospective students and others in practice settings—is extremely important for Johns Hopkins to remain a leader in advanced practice nursing education.”
—Anne E. Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN
Half of those responding prefer to be taught in a traditional face-to-face classroom setting (51 percent). “Long-distance and on-line doctorate programs do not seem to have the same prestige or respect that traditional programs have,” said one respondent. Others took an opposite position: “Distance or web-based learning is definitely the way to go for Hopkins. You have always been ‘cutting edge,’ and that option would continue your innovative reputation!” Nurses also are strongly divided on the issue of preferred entry level to a DNP program. Most (65 percent) suggested the program be aimed at students who had already completed a master’s degree, but a large minority (35 percent) advocate for post-BSN entry. Half would plan to pay for their DNP using employer tuition benefits, 42 percent would take out loans, and 34 percent said they would use some of their own money to pay for their education. Most of those who responded said that they are interested in pursuing their DNP at Johns Hopkins. As one alum wrote: “Past experiences at JHUSON have been so wonderful that I would love to attend this program at Hopkins if possible.” The results of this survey—combined with information gleaned from a survey of nursing employers—will inform the task force’s decision-making as it contemplates this next stage in nursing education. This spring, the task force will submit its final report to JHUSON Dean Martha N. Hill, PhD, RN, FAAN, with recommendations and a business plan for curriculum, resources, technology, and other needs for implementation of a DNP program. “This new trend in nursing education will impact the entire nursing profession,” says Anne E. Belcher, PhD, RN, AOCN, FAAN, senior associate dean for academic affairs and co-chair of the DNP committee. “Seeking the opinions of nurses—both prospective students and others in practice settings—is extremely important for Johns Hopkins to remain a leader in advanced practice nursing education.”