- Boise State University will offer a DNP degree starting in the fall.
- Students can specialize as family nurse or adult-gerontology nurse practitioners.
- The new programs will help address Idaho’s healthcare provider shortage.
Earning a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree can help nurses expand their clinical responsibilities and boost their earning potential. DNP-educated nurse practitioners can also address a critical need for healthcare providers.
Starting this fall, the Boise State University School of Nursing in Idaho will offer an online DNP degree. The program will include two specific tracks: family nurse practitioner (FNP) and adult-gerontology nurse practitioner (AGNP).
According to school officials, the new DNP programs will help address Idaho’s healthcare provider shortage.
“Full practice authority states, such as Idaho, are in a unique position to increase the availability of individuals who can diagnose and treat health conditions, thereby increasing access to healthcare,” said Boise State’s AGNP program director Nicole Loos-Bartlett, DNP, RN, in an interview with NurseJournal.
Idaho’s Healthcare Provider Shortage
States across the country, including Idaho, are facing a nurse shortage and a primary care provider shortage. Nurse practitioners can help address both problems.
“Idaho has 9,000 healthcare jobs that it cannot fill, with nurses being on the top of the list,” Amy Spurlock, Ph.D., RN, associate divisional dean and chief nursing administrator at Boise State, told NurseJournal.
As Idaho’s population grows, the health provider shortage grows more urgent. In addition, Idaho’s large rural population poses a challenge to primary care access.
“All counties in Idaho, except for Ada County, have a shortage of primary care providers,” Spurlock said. “Without the proper amount of healthcare providers, Idahoans are at risk for not being able to access timely, affordable, and high-quality healthcare.”
Doctor of Nursing Practice: The Impact of the DNP
Graduate programs at the master’s and doctoral levels prepare nurse practitioners for various clinical responsibilities. While nurse practitioners can enter the profession with a master of science in nursing (MSN), many educational associations have advocated for the DNP as the entry-level degree.
In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed the DNP as the required degree for NPs.
As recently as April 2023, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) reaffirmed that call, urging nursing schools to transition their MSN programs to DNP programs by 2025. Boise State announced its new DNP programs in response to the NONPF recommendation.
“Boise State University’s School of Nursing felt that the time was right to transition our master’s program to the doctoral level beginning in August 2024,” Spurlock told NurseJournal.
According to a 2022 report from the AACN, academic leaders and employers agree that DNP graduates “have a larger and more diverse skill set” than MSN graduates. DNP graduates particularly stood out for their strengths in evidence-based practice and quality improvement.
The number of nursing schools offering DNP programs has grown dramatically in the past two decades. In 2005, just 13 schools offered a DNP degree, according to the AACN. By 2023, the AACN counted 426 DNP programs, with 70 more in the planning stages.
More than 40,000 students are currently enrolled in DNP programs as of 2022.
Inside Boise State’s New Graduate Nursing Degree Programs
Boise State, Idaho’s largest public university, already boasts a strong track record for MSN programs. According to the school’s statistics, 99% of graduates pass their nurse practitioner certification exam on the first attempt. The new DNP program will build on that success while prioritizing flexibility, school leaders said.
Each DNP student at Boise State will be able to customize their program based on prior education, career goals, and schedule.
In addition to the FNP and AGNP concentrations, Boise State’s programs will offer tracks for BSN and MSN-prepared nurses. The programs are offered primarily online and will incorporate two on-campus sessions, with part-time or full-time enrollment options. Students can in the fall or spring.
BSN-trained nurses can complete the DNP program in as little as three years.
Boise State hopes that the online format will help meet the needs of diverse students.
“Since the DNP is an online program, students in rural areas may educate in the place where they live and remain in their communities to practice,” Spurlock said.
NPs who practice in Idaho’s rural areas will improve access to primary and specialty care for underserved residents.
“Graduates of Boise State’s nurse practitioner programs will be doctorally prepared and enabled to deliver high-quality and competent healthcare,” Loos-Bartlett said in a statement.
The first cohort for nurses with a BSN will launch in the fall of 2024, while the post-master’s track will begin in 2025.