Doctor of Nursing Practice Program

DNP Program Information

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Vanderbilt is built upon our internationally recognized programs in advanced nursing practice. It is designed for nurses actively engaged in advanced nursing practice in the clinical or systems arenas. DNP students partner with health care agencies/organizations who will facilitate the integration of didactic courses within a practice setting throughout the program.

If you want additional information about whether to pursue the Vanderbilt DNP degree or PhD degree based on your scholarly interests, please see PhD or DNP – Which is Right for Me? 

The Vanderbilt DNP program meets recommendations of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and of the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF). Vanderbilt DNP graduates will have a strong scientific foundation for practice – prepared to translate knowledge quickly and effectively to benefit patients and health care systems in the daily demands of practice environments.

The Master's, Post-Master’s Certificate and Doctor of Nursing Practice programs at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791

The Vanderbilt Doctor of Nursing Practice program will prepare nurse scholars with a blend of clinical, organizational, economic and leadership skills to:

  1. Assess, analyze, evaluate, and manage complex health environments serving diverse populations to improve patient and population health outcomes;
  2. Apply clinical scholarship and available evidence to make clinical and system decisions incorporating professional values and ethical principles;
  3. Support and improve patient care and health care systems through the use of clinical practice models, health policy, informatics, and organizational leadership skills;
  4. Advocate for clinical prevention, population health initiatives, and evidence-based health policy through interprofessional and stakeholder collaboration.

Assistant Dean for Academics, Doctoral Nursing Programterri allison

Terri Allison, DNP, RN, ACNP-BC, FAANP
Professor of Nursing 

Dr. Allison is a certified Acute Care Nurse Practitioner and has more than 30 years experience in cardiac critical care, and transplant nursing. She began her nursing career as a staff nurse in a 500-bed metropolitan teaching hospital caring for patients with coronary artery disease and heart failure. She has extensive experience managing the care of patients requiring critical care interventions and those experiencing complex cardiovascular disease. Her particular area of expertise is in the management of patients with end stage heart failure and those experiencing heart transplantation. She joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 2001 and has taught in all levels within the School of Nursing and teaches a transplantation elective in the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner specialty . She uses her nursing expertise to coordinate clinical education and lectures on cardiovascular disorders. She maintains part time practice as an ACNP with the Vanderbilt Transplant Center. Dr. Allison was the first Vanderbilt faculty member to obtain the DNP degree and became the Director of the DNP program in 2012. She was named Assistant Dean for Academics, Doctoral Nursing Practice in 2019. Dr. Allison was inducted as a Fellow in the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. She publishes and presents on topics related to doctoral nursing education and regularly contributes to the national conversation on issues confronting advanced nursing practice and the DNP degree.

Assistant Director, DNP ProgramKaren Hande

Associate Professor of Nursing

Karen Hande is DNP prepared adult health board certified nurse practitioner and a certified nurse educator. She earned her BSN from the University of Connecticut in 1999 and was employed as a bone marrow transplant nurse at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Karen furthered her education at Boston College and earned an MSN. Her experience as a nurse practitioner began at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in the hematology outpatient clinic. She continued her practice in adult primary care in outpatient clinics in Connecticut and Tennessee. Her pursuit for a practice doctorate was commenced at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in 2013. Karen is an associate professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing in the DNP program. She coordinates the DNP integrative application course series. Karen's primary interest is in guiding students through the DNP project process and improving the student learning environment. Karen also practices at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center in the Supportive Care Clinic.  

Pam Pettis

Pam Pettis

Program Administrative Manger

Kimberly Harrison

Kimberly Harrison

Program Coordinator II