Doctor of Nursing Practice

Associate Dean for Graduate Programs: Jane Tiedt
Professors: 
N. CroganS. Boysen, M. McFarland (Emeritus) 
Associate Professors: 
L. MurphyJ. RamirezJ. Tiedt
Assistant Professors: J. IsaacsonC. Kottwitz, K. Manion, D. OgorekJ. OwensB. Senger
Senior Lecturers: 
N. BeckhamD. Smith
Lecturers: 
A. Argyle, C. ChaconM. DeNysschen, J. Derzay, S. Edwards, J. Garrity, D. Jacobson, M. Nash, D. PeckK. Slater

Introduction

The Department of Nursing offers two pathways to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree: post-baccalaureate DNP and post-master’s DNP. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree and a Registered Nurse license can apply for admission to the post-baccalaureate DNP (PBDNP) option and one of the specialty nurse practitioner tracks: Family Nurse Practitioner (78 credits) or Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (78 credits). PBDNP students are required to complete the MSN core and NP specialty courses prior to progressing to the DNP-level courses. Students earn an MSN degree, which allows them the option of taking the national certification exam for their selected NP specialty role and population focus, and, once certified, to practice in their advanced practice role. After completing the MSN courses, PBDNP students begin the DNP courses and complete a DNP scholarly project.

Nurses with a master’s degree in nursing that prepared them as advanced practice nurses (e.g., as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist) or in an advanced role (e.g., as a nursing leader or nurse administrator) can apply for admission to the post-master's DNP option (28-31 credits).  The DNP program is consistent with the mission of Gonzaga University and the overall mission of the Department of Nursing, which is to prepare nurses for leadership in the service of others. Graduates of Gonzaga's DNP program are prepared to engage in systems thinking to solve complex problems, translate evidence to improve health care practices and population health, lead quality improvement and change initiatives, and demonstrate effective intra-professional collaboration.

Gonzaga's DNP program is offered in an online distance delivery format with scheduled on-campus immersions. This format enables nurses in geographically isolated areas and those who are unable to attend an on-campus program to pursue advanced nursing education and still continue to provide much-needed nursing services in their home communities while completing graduate studies. Nurse Practitioner graduates are prepared to take the national certification examinations for their areas of specialization. National certification is a requirement for licensure as a nurse practitioner in most states. Students are responsible for checking state mandates for practice while in the student role and in an advanced nursing role.

Program Overview

Post-Baccalaureate DNP Option

This online program is available to Registered Nurses who have earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing or have a bachelor’s degree in another field and are licensed as Registered Nurses. Nurses with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree must complete a minimum of four pre-requisite nursing courses prior to starting the MSN courses. The MSN and DNP courses are offered in a distance delivery format in fall, spring, and summer sessions.

The post-baccalaureate DNP (PBDNP) requires the completion of a minimum of 78 credit hours between the MSN and DNP degrees depending on the selected specialty track. The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner tracks require the completion of 78 credits. Students in all tracks must complete a minimum of 1000 practicum hours in order to earn the DNP degree. The majority of the practicum hours (approximately 660 hours) are spent learning the NP specialty role and the remaining 340 hours involve completion of a DNP project focused on improving an identified practice issue. Students are required to participate in a total of seven or eight on-campus immersions (depending on their specialty track).

Admission Requirements:

At the time of application to the post-baccalaureate DNP program, the applicant also applies for admission to Gonzaga University. The applicant must have a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, be licensed as a Registered Nurse, and submit one official transcript from each college, university, and/or nursing program attended. Students who are admitted without a bachelor’s degree in nursing are required to take foundational nursing courses before completing graduate-level courses, e.g., statistics, research, and community health nursing. Students applying to the post-baccalaureate DNP option must reside in one of the following western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, or Wyoming. The decision to admit an applicant to the DNP program is based on consideration of the individual's overall portfolio including:

  1. A bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.
  2. An unencumbered RN license from the state where practicum courses will be completed.
  3. A minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) from bachelor’s level courses of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale.
  4. An official transcript from every college and university and/or nursing program attended (only courses from regionally accredited institutions will be accepted).
  5. Curriculum vitae (CV).
  6. Three letters of recommendation. One must be from a supervisor who is able to evaluate current competency in nursing and the candidate's potential for nursing practice at the most advanced level. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have one letter from a former college/university nursing professor who can attest to the candidate's potential for academic success in a doctoral program. (Those applying to the FNP track are required to have a letter of recommendation from a supervisor.)
  7. A typewritten personal statement that addresses:
    1. The candidate’s reasons for pursuing a DNP degree at Gonzaga University and how the program will prepare the candidate to meet his/her professional goals.
    2. Experiences and background that have prepared the candidate to be successful while pursuing a doctoral degree.
    3. Interest in specific track within the DNP program (FNP or PMHNP)
    4. Clinical issue/problem to be addressed in a DNP project:
      1. A description of the identified clinical problem or issue and how it was identified
      2. What change the applicant proposes to implement.
      3. How the applicant envisions that improvement in the practice problem/clinical issue will make a difference in the quality of health and/or the healthcare system.
  8. Non-native English speakers are required to provide proof of English proficiency. Gonzaga accepts the following:
    1. Score of 6.5 or better on the IELTS, or
    2. Official TOEFL score of at least 88 ibt or 580 pbt.

All students must pass a national background check that will be completed upon acceptance into the program.  Students are referred to the relevant Department of Nursing Student Handbook for a more detailed overview of requirements and expectations.  There are separate handbooks for the BSN, MSN, and DNP programs.

Post-Baccalaureate DNP Track Options:

Family Nurse Practitioner (78 credits)

This track prepares nurse practitioners to provide a holistic approach to primary care for individuals across the life span, from infants to older adults, and to manage a wide variety of acute and chronic health problems. FNPs typically practice in primary care settings, such as private practices, clinics, urgent care centers, and community health centers. Students in this track must complete a total of 78 credits to earn a DNP degree. The didactic courses are offered online. Students complete the required 1000 hours of practicum in their home communities working at a site and with a preceptor approved by faculty.

When students begin their practicum courses, they are required to participate in eight on-campus immersions. Six of the immersions are associated with the FNP practicum courses and emphasize health assessment, diagnostic reasoning, skill development, and the demonstration of competence in the NP role. These immersions are two to three days in length. . Two immersions are associated with orienting to the DNP role and DNP project. The student must participate in an orientation immersion during the first semester of DNP coursework (NURS 705) and a second immersion during the DNP project readiness course (NURS 760). Each immersion is two to three days in length. The first immersion provides an overview of the DNP program and courses, introduction to campus resources and Jesuit education, scholarly writing, foundations of the DNP role, and the DNP project. The second immersion covers development of a DNP project plan, expectations for the DNP project practicum courses, composition of the DNP Project Committee, Institutional Review Board requirements, the proposal defense, and an introduction to faculty and their specific research interests.The completion of a DNP project that improves practice is also a required component of the DNP program.

Students residing in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and Montana have at least one site visit from a clinical faculty during each FNP practicum course.  Students living outside of this four-state region are required to arrange for an additional on-campus day in conjunction with one of the immersions during each practicum course in order to complete the faculty site visit requirement.

At the successful completion of the MSN courses, students earn an MSN degree and are qualified to take the FNP certification exam, which, if passed, makes them eligible for an advanced practice license. Requirements for the MSN FNP degree can be found on the MSN degree page. Requirements for the DNP degree are listed below.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (78 credits)

This track prepares nurse practitioners to care for individuals across the life span in need of mental health care and treatment. PMHNPs are prepared to provide psychotherapy and prescribed medications and other psychiatric treatment interventions. PMHNPs typically practice in primary care settings, such as private practices, mental health clinics, psychiatric hospitals, and community mental health centers. Students in this track must complete a total of 78 credits to earn a DNP degree. The didactic courses are offered online. Students complete the required 1000 hours of practicum in their home communities working at a site and with a preceptor approved by faculty.

When students begin their practicum courses, they are required to participate in seven on-campus immersions. Five of the immersions are associated with the PMHNP practicum courses and emphasize health assessment, diagnostic reasoning, development of skill in behavioral therapy, and the demonstration of competence in the NP role. These immersions are two days in length. Two immersions are associated with orienting to the DNP role and DNP project. The student must participate in an orientation immersion during the first semester of DNP coursework (NURS 705) and a second immersion during the DNP project readiness course (NURS 760). Each immersion is 2 to 3 days in length. The first immersion provides an overview of the DNP program and courses, introduction to campus resources and Jesuit education, scholarly writing, foundations of the DNP role and the DNP project. The second immersion covers development of a DNP project plan, expectations for the DNP project practicum courses, composition of the DNP Project Committee, Institutional Review Board requirements, the proposal defense, and an introduction to faculty and their specific research interests.The completion of a DNP project that improves practice is also a required component of the DNP program.

Students have a site visit from a clinical faculty during each of the three PMHNP practicum courses. At the successful completion of the MSN courses, students earn an MSN degree and are qualified to take the PMHNP certification exam, which, if passed, makes them eligible for an advanced practice license. Requirements for the MSN PMHNP degree can be found on the MSN degree page. Requirements for the DNP degree are listed below.

Post-Master’s DNP Option

At the time of application to the DNP program, the applicant also applies for admission to Gonzaga University. This online program is available to Registered Nurses who have earned a master's degree in a nursing specialty area as a clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, certified nurse anesthetist, certified nurse midwife, or in nursing leadership/administration and want to advance their practice. The DNP courses are offered in a distance delivery format in fall, spring, and summer sessions.

The post-master's DNP requires the completion of a minimum of 28 credit hours. The total number of credits a student must take in order to complete degree requirements depends on the courses and practicum hours completed in the student's master's degree program. If an applicant was not required to complete an Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) course during his or her master's degree program, or a Biostatistics or Inferential Statistics course in the past five years, these courses can be completed while enrolled in the DNP program. The EBP course must be completed either prior to beginning DNP coursework or during the first semester of the DNP Program. The graduate-level Biostatistics or Inferential Statistics course must be taken prior to starting the DNP project courses (701/761). The number of practicum hours that each student must complete is individualized based on the number completed in the student's MSN program so that each student meets the required 1,000 practicum hours by program completion (including practicum hours from the student's master's program). This means that a student may need to complete more than 28 total credits.

The program requires two on-campus immersions. The student must participate in an orientation immersion during the first semester of DNP coursework (NURS 705) and a second immersion during the DNP project readiness course (NURS 760). Each immersion is 2 to 3 days in length. The first immersion provides an overview of the DNP program and courses, introduction to campus resources and Jesuit education, scholarly writing, foundations of the DNP role and the DNP project. The second immersion covers development of a DNP project plan, expectations for the DNP project practicum courses, composition of the DNP Project Team, Institutional Review Board requirements, the proposal defense, and an introduction to faculty and their specific research interests.

The three practicum and seminar courses prepare the student to complete a scholarly DNP project that is aimed at improving some aspect of clinical or leadership practice, depending on the student’s focus. The student has the option of presenting the defense of his or her DNP project proposal and the final defense of the completed DNP scholarly project to faculty and students either in person or through video-conferencing.

Admission Requirements

Registered Nurses who meet the following criteria are eligible to apply to the post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice option:

  1. A master’s degree in nursing from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) OR a graduate nurse anesthesia degree from a program accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs OR a graduate nurse-midwifery degree from a program accredited by the American College of Nurse Midwives Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. Gonzaga does admit Canadian students into graduate nursing programs as long as they graduated from an approved Master of Science in Nursing program in Canada and provide official verification of registration as a Registered Nurse.
  2. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) from master’s-level nursing courses of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale. If the GPA is below a 3.3, the applicant must include a statement explaining why the GPA is lower than required.
  3. Official transcript posting MSN or MN degree with documentation of an Evidence Based Practice (EBP) course. If the student has not had an EBP course, he or she can still be fully admitted, but will be required to complete an EBP course during the first semester of DNP course work. Gonzaga offers this course and it is available online to DNP students.
  4. Official transcript of a three semester-credit graduate-level inferential statistics or biostatistics course within the last five years with an earned grade of C or better. If the student has not had a statistics course, he or she can still be fully admitted, but will be required to complete a statistics course during the first semester of DNP course work. Gonzaga offers this course and it is available online to DNP students.

To be considered as an applicant for the post-master’s DNP option, the following application items are evaluated:

  1. Curriculum vitae (CV).
  2. Three letters of recommendations.
    1. One must be from a supervisor who is able to evaluate current competency in nursing and the candidate’s potential for nursing practice (clinical or leadership depending on the area of practice) at the most advanced level.
    2. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have one letter from a former college/university nursing professor who can attest to the candidate’s potential for academic success in a doctoral program.
  3. A typewritten personal statement that describes:
    1. The candidate’s reasons for pursuing a DNP at Gonzaga University and how the program will prepare the candidate to meet his/her professional goals.
    2. Experiences and background that have prepared the candidate to be successful while pursuing a doctoral degree.
    3. Clinical issue/problem to be addressed in a DNP project:
      1. A description of the identified clinical problem or issue and how it was identified
      2. What change the applicant proposes to implement.
      3. How the applicant envisions that improvement in the practice problem/clinical issue will make a difference in the quality of our health and/or the healthcare system.
  4. Official transcript(s) posting MSN or MN degree from granting institution. Graduate nurse anesthesia degrees or graduate nurse-midwifery degrees will be accepted for CRNA or CNM applicants respectively.
  5. Copy of current unencumbered RN license.
  6. Verification of practicum hours completed in MSN program.
  7. In addition, nurse practitioner applicants must provide documentation of:
    1. Unencumbered license as an Advanced Practice Nurse (APN) in the state where practicum courses will be completed.
    2. Certification in the area of specialization

 

Degree Requirements:

The DNP program requires completion of a minimum of 28 semester credits

NURS 563 Evidence-Based Practice (if not taken in master’s degree program)
3 credits
NURS 705 Introduction to the DNP Role  1 credit
NURS 708 Inferential Statistics (if equivalent not taken within previous 5 years) 3 credits
NURS 711 Quality Improvement and Leadership in Health Care 3 credits
NURS 712 Translational Research in Advanced Practice 3 credits
NURS 713 Population Health Outcomes  3 credits
NURS 714 Theoretical Underpinnings of Adv Practice 3 credits
NURS 715 Health Policy, Ethics and Advocacy  3 credits
NURS 760 DNP Project Readiness  3 credits
NURS 761 DNP Project Seminar I 2 credits
NURS 762 DNP Project Seminar II 1 credit
NURS 763 DNP Project Seminar III 1 credit
DNP Practicum Courses: 1,000 hours required between the MSN & DNP degrees
 
NURS 701 DNP Practicum I
1-3 credits
NURS 702 DNP Practicum II
1-3 credits 
NURS 703 DNP Practicum III
1-3 credits
NURS 704 DNP Practicum Extension (if needed) 
1-3 credits