Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

Curriculum

dnp curriculum changes  

Curriculum Options for DNP Program

Students complete 36 doctoral credits of coursework at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, including 500 hours of practice integration, and a DNP project. DNP students attend an intensive on-campus experience in Nashville for approximately three to four days each semester. During this on campus time, students attend course orientation sessions, meet with faculty mentors and invited lecturers and attend various networking and social events with other doctoral students and faculty. Attendance at these on campus sessions is required. Students may choose a 5 semester or 6 semester plan of study. 5 semester plan students make a total of 5 visits to campus and 6 semester plan students make a total of 6 visits.

Other coursework, scholarly interaction and practice application takes place online and in students’ home locations, so that relocation or change of employment is not necessary. A variety of online and distance learning technologies and techniques to facilitate the program and enrich students’ learning experience is utilized.

The majority of coursework will be asynchronous. Synchronous activities will be scheduled by the faculty in advance. Working with practice partners in health care agencies/organizations, often at sites where students are employed, students will apply knowledge and skills gained from coursework to their practice settings. Practice experiences are integral to students’ achievement of advanced nursing practice competencies at the doctoral level.

Students entering the DNP Advanced Systems or Executive Leadership tracks with an MSN in Nursing Education must complete additional graduate level courses in Leadership, Finance, and Quality Improvement, as determined by an analysis of the student’s previous MSN in Nursing Education. Students will complete 3-9 MSN level credits in the Nursing andHealth Care Leadership specialty prior to enrollment in DNP courses, which lengthens the plan of study. Upon completion of required MSN level courses, students continue in DNP courses following either the 5 semester or 6 semester plan of study.
MSN applicants can pursue a new advanced nursing practice specialty in conjunction with the DNP degree. Completion of a post-master’s certificate in conjunction with the DNP will extend the length of the program of study. The post-master’s certificate is typically completed prior to beginning DNP courses. The program length will be based on an individual portfolio review and gap analysis. Applicants should address their career goals for the new specialty in the DNP application.
Students complete the BSN to DNP plan of study over 8 semesters. Specialty courses are integrated with DNP courses and the number of credits is dependent on the area of specialty. BSN to DNP students attend the DNP Intensives each semester of enrollment. Specialty courses meet on campus for block visits several times each semester in the second year of the program of study. Specialty clinical experiences and DNP practice hours are arranged in your local region, whenever possible. 

Required On-Campus Attendance

  • DNP students in the Advanced Clinical Practice, Advanced Systems, and Executive Leadership tracks are required to be on campus once each semester for a three-four day intensive session (three times per year, August, January, and May).
  • Students completing a post-master’s certificate in a new specialty in conjunction with the DNP are on campus according to the block schedule for the specialty and their individual plan of study while enrolled in specialty courses. Students follow the DNP intensive schedule once specialty level courses are completed.
  • BSN entry to DNP students attend the DNP intensive every semester throughout the program of studies as well as specialty block sessions when enrolled in specialty clinical courses.·       

Other coursework, scholarly interaction and practice application takes place online and in students’ home locations, so that relocation or change of employment is not necessary. A variety of online and distance learning technologies and techniques to facilitate the program and enrich students’ learning experience is utilized. The VUSN Clinical Placement Office and specialty faculty will work with students to secure clinical sites for students enrolled in specialty level clinical courses (DNP + Post-Master’s Certificate and BSN entry to DNP).

DNP Project

A hallmark of Vanderbilt’s practice doctorate is the successful completion of a DNP project that demonstrates the synthesis of the student’s experiences. The DNP project will embrace learning from both coursework and practice application. The DNP project will be reviewed and evaluated by members of the student’s DNP project committee, led by a member of the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing faculty with doctoral preparation and who has practice and/or academic experiences relevant to guiding the student’s project. Successful completion of a DNP project demonstrating the synthesis of the student’s coursework and practice application culminates in a final manuscript and oral presentation.