Jul 19, 2024  
2020-2021 Shepherd University Catalog 
2020-2021 Shepherd University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Nursing Practice

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An alternative to research-focused doctoral programs, the DNP advances professional nursing roles in clinical practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner.  The program is designed to produce leaders who embrace health care reform and are advocates for vulnerable populations. Graduates integrate theory and practice in areas of health policy and law, administration, business, evaluation, systems, population health, and evidence-based practices.

The DNP program has 81 credits. Students in the program utilize a combination of learning strategies, relying on web-based course work delivered in hybrid format with both in-seat and on-line sessions. Students complete clinical requirements to meet the mandated minimum 1,000 hours of specialty training that is one of the hallmarks of the DNP degree.  Students complete a scholarly DNP project as a culminating experience.

The program has two entry points for admission:  the baccalaureate in nursing to DNP and a post-masters in nursing to DNP.  These different entry points allow the curriculum to be individualized for candidates based on prior education, experience and choice of specialization. Post-masters students entering the DNP desiring to change their area of professional practice are evaluated on an individual basis and may require additional coursework from the professional core or concentration.

The DNP curriculum includes course work that integrates nursing, business, informatics, education, and healthcare administration.  Students are provided with the opportunity to develop clinical, organizational, economic, and leadership skills to design and implement programs of care delivery, significantly impacting health care outcomes to vulnerable populations and having the potential to transform the delivery of health care. 

Program Outcomes

The goal of the DNP program is to prepare a nurse clinician who can work well in the current environment while promoting change and improvement. DNP students must be enrolled full-time in his hybrid format curriculum.

 After completing the program, the DNP student will:

Outcome 1:  Critically appraise current scientific findings and theories to enhance the practice of nursing and health care.
  • Evaluate strengths, limitations, and health disparities in current health care systems, especially vulnerable populations.
  • Integrate current theoretical and research literature to impact positively the quality of health care.
  • Construct and evaluate new approaches to practice, utilizing a collaborative interdisciplinary approach.
Outcome 2:  Translate and utilize evidence-based practice and information systems to promote optimal health in vulnerable populations, diverse settings, and systems.
  • Use databases, information technology, and research methods to participate in data collection that generates and evaluates evidence-based practice.
  • Design effective methods for the empowerment of health care consumers that encourages active participation in their own health care.
  • Evaluate, apply, and revise evidence-based practice protocols to promote wellness.
  • Use analytical methods to design, implement and evaluate best practices to meet current and future needs of patients or for patient care and systems of care.
  • Effectively lead quality improvement and patient safety initiatives to ensure safety and quality health care for patients and vulnerable populations.
Outcome 3:  Assume leadership roles and collaborate with other professionals to effect changes within complex systems.
  • Propose and implement ongoing changes in delivery approaches to promote quality, safe care.
  • Impact the ethical, economic, social, and political issues that affect health care outcomes at local, regional, and/or national levels.
  • Apply information systems and patient care technology for the improvement and transformation of healthcare.
  • Lead inter-professional teams in efforts for improving patient and population health outcomes for vulnerable populations.
Outcome 4:  Pursue clinical scholarship and scientific inquiry to transform health care practice and systems.
  • Demonstrate accountability for and utilization of evidence-based practice.
  • Advance the practice of nursing through scholarship, mentorship, and leadership efforts.
  • Disseminate results of evidence-based practice protocols, systems changes, and health care initiatives for health disparities and vulnerable populations.
  • Advance the effective use of health care information systems to assure high quality health care outcomes for vulnerable populations.

The DNP program adheres to the standards identified by the AACN entitled the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (DNP Essentials, 2006). The DNP Essentials identifies standard foundational curriculum content and outcomes-based competencies essential for all DNP graduates.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Professional Core (13 hours)

Students holding the BSN will begin their program with the Professional Core, then will complete one of the following concentrations: Nursing Leadership Administration or Family Nurse Practitioner.

Concentration in Nursing Leadership Administration (24 hours)

The Doctor of Nursing Practice has currently discontinued the Nursing Leadership Administration concentration and is not accepting future enrollments at this time. All students currently enrolled in this concentration will be supported to complete their degrees.


The Nursing Leadership Administration Concentration prepares nurse leaders to synthesize business and nursing sciences in high profile positions within emerging healthcare systems.

Concentration in Family Nurse Practitioner (37 hours)

The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration focuses on the delivery of health care services to vulnerable populations by conducting comprehensive health assessments aimed at health promotion and disease prevention, management of common acute illnesses and stable chronic conditions, and coordination of services in a variety of settings.

Following graduation from the DNP program and completion of the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) concentration, students are eligible to sit for certification as FNP through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Doctoral Core (31 hours)

After completing the Professional Core and area of concentration, students complete the additional 31 hours of doctoral coursework. Students holding the Master of Science in Nursing will begin their program here.

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