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Doctor of Nursing Practice

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The TCU DNP program is designed to encourage you to use the knowledge and skills you gain while in the doctoral program along with the expertise and credentials of your advanced practice role to maximize nursing’s contributions in improving healthcare outcomes around the world. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an innovative, solution-focused program designed to prepare advanced practice nurses to lead efforts in solving complex health care issues and developing new health care opportunities.

The DNP provides terminal academic preparation for nursing practice. The purpose of this program is to prepare you for clinical leadership positions in a variety of health care, business, government, and educational settings. The TCU DNP is a practice doctorate designed to prepare experts in specialized advanced nursing practice. The focus is on practice that is innovative and evidence-based, reflecting the application of credible research findings and theories to improving health care outcomes.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at TCU is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036. 202-887-6791).

Information about the admissions process is available on the TCU Nursing Graduate Resources page. The deadline each year is November 15 for classes starting the following summer semester.


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The DNP clinical nurse specialist program prepares students for advanced practice with a focus on either adult-gerontology or pediatric populations. A CNS provides leadership in nursing practice, clinical expertise, and systems innovation. As an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), you can diagnose, develop medical and nursing management plans of care, treat, and provide ongoing management of complex patients. Graduates are eligible to sit for national certification exams offered for the role by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Critical Care Nurses Certification Corporation.

The BSN to DNP CNS program requires 65 credit hours and 1,020 clinical hours. The curriculum is based on guidelines for program standards and outcomes including Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (AACN, 2006), The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing (2011), Criteria for the Evaluation of Clinical Nurse Specialist Master’s, Practice Doctorate, and Post-Graduate Certificate Educational Programs (2011), Rules and Regulations of the Texas Board of Nursing, and guidelines regarding content for certification exams published by national certifying bodies. The typical length for completion is three years, including summers, for full time students. A part-time option is available and, if kept on schedule, can result in program completion in four years.

The first year of the program is composed of didactic courses providing core knowledge and skills required of the doctorally-prepared APRN. To ensure sufficient depth of focus, a separate course is taken for advanced health assessment, advanced pathophysiology, and advanced pharmacology. The second and third year of study focus on the didactic/clinical population focus courses and fulfillment of practice and DNP project requirements. All of the focused CNS courses are completed concurrently with clinical practicum courses. The entire program must be completed within six years of enrollment.

All didactic coursework is offered online. On-campus requirements include participation in clinical training and skills assessments during on-campus intensives (OCI) scheduled throughout the program. Clinical practicum courses are supervised by TCU nursing faculty in concert with qualified preceptors. By the completion of the program, students will have completed 1,020 clinical hours (540 direct patient care hours and 480 indirect care hours). You must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average throughout the program.

The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) has identified particular characteristics of the successful CNS including:

  • Population and/or specialty-focused clinical expertise
  • Expertise in nursing practice leadership
  • Skills to consult with patient and the interprofessional team to improve health outcomes
  • Aptitude in systems change and systems process analysis
  • Proficiency in evidence-based practice
  • Advocacy skills to achieve cost-effective and quality patient outcomes

See the course catalog for course requirements and information.

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The family nurse practitioner program prepares graduates at the doctoral level to provide comprehensive primary health care to individuals and families throughout the lifespan and across the continuum of health. Program emphasis is on health promotion, preventive health services, health education and counseling, and diagnosis and management of acute episodic and chronic illnesses to include prescribing medications and treatments. Interprofessional collaboration with the health care team is integrated throughout the curriculum.

Graduates will be eligible for national certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Program (AANPCP).

See the course catalog for course requirements and information.

Why are nurse practitioners important?

The American Association of Nurse Practitioners identifies multiple characteristics demonstrating the importance of nurse practitioners:

  • NPs offer high-quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care
  • NPs are more than just health care providers; they are mentors, educators, researchers, and administrators
  • NPs are licensed and can prescribe medications and other treatments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia
  • Patients with NPs as their primary care providers have shorter hospital stays and fewer emergency room visits, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs
  • With almost 916 million visits made to NPs each year, patients report an extremely high level of satisfaction with the care they receive
  • There are over 205,000 NPs practicing in America today, providing solutions to the primary care shortage facing America today

Where do family nurse practitioners practice?

Studying advanced practice nursing at TCU provides an opportunity to further your nursing career at a time when the health care environment is rapidly changing. As a doctorally-prepared family nurse practitioner, you will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to assume a leadership role in providing high quality, cost-effective, patient-centered health care to individuals, families, and their communities.

Workforce opportunities for family nurse practitioners are rising as result of health care reform. Clinical and didactic course work at TCU prepares you for clinical practice in a variety of primary care settings, such as:

  • Community health centers
  • Public health departments
  • Ambulatory clinics
  • Private practice (family, internal medicine, pediatrics)
  • Retail clinics
  • School-based clinics
  • Nurse-managed clinics
  • Rural health centers
  • Academic health centers

Why choose TCU family nurse practitioner program?

  • Receive a DNP designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice
  • All didactic course work is delivered online through an interactive learning management system by outstanding faculty credentialed in online education
  • Clinical practicum experiences with qualified preceptors take place close to home when possible
  • You’ll participate in clinical training and skills assessment during on-campus intensives and benefit from a 15,000 square-foot simulation center utilized during OCI’s**
  • Interprofessional education opportunities are integrated into the curriculum
  • Respect for diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and cultures
  • Supportive faculty and staff are committed to student success

** On campus requirements include program orientation and up to three OCIs scheduled throughout the program

Post-master’s DNP – APRN and Nursing Administration

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Advanced Practice Nurses

A master’s degree in nursing and current recognition as an advanced practice nurse by appropriate certification and licensing boards is required for admission. Our current students include clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. All students are required throughout the program to maintain their advance practice recognition through practice requirements defined by appropriate certification and licensing boards.


Nurse Administrators

A master’s degree in administration and current RN licensure in the state in which the student practices is required. Our current students include department directors, vice presidents, chief nursing executives, and chief nursing officers. Nursing administration certification is recommended.

The DNP degree may be completed in two years. The first year is typically composed of didactic courses and the second year consists of fulfillment of practice and final project requirements. Additional courses are available to help prepare students for teaching in academia. Part-time study is also available.  The program is delivered in an on-line format.


Post-Master’s DNP Degree Requirements

The post-masters DNP degree requires a minimum of 30-semester hours of coursework for completion. Students must maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average throughout the program. Minimum coursework requirements follow. The following courses will be taken in random order.

A student must complete the DNP degree within five academic years from the semester they first began coursework.