Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Right for You?

Populations are growing and people are aging more than in the past. This challenges the nursing industry to adapt to these figures and grow accordingly. More qualified practitioners are needed, as well as health facilities, and continual improvement is required in order to achieve the healthcare outcomes of entire communities. The DNP is the terminal degree for nurses wishing to fulfill leadership positions in clinical settings. These programs create the most highly qualified advanced nurse practitioners with the skills to use scientific evidence to improve the quality of nursing that patients receive. Their expertise enables them to make adaptations where necessary, often in the fields of education, health policy, systems development, advanced practices and more. We have done considerable research on the subject and these are the schools that offer DNP programs in Tennessee.

Featured DNP Programs (RN Required)

Finding a DNP Program

There are many different DNP programs to choose from. Though some people prefer campus based programs, the online option has become increasingly popular, especially in the nursing industry. See a Complete List of DNP Programs...

  • East Tennessee State University and their College of Nursing have a CCNE accredited DNP program available that prepares Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Executives for extensive leadership roles. They become expert assessors and evaluators of research evidence to affect changes that will improve clinical quality. Onsite intensives are required, but this is predominantly an online program that can be studied either part-time or full-time. The program is typically completed by the average student in two or three years, depending on the plan of study being used. Please contact the school to inquire about their latest application deadline dates.
  • The School of Nursing at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga has a DNP program on offer with CCNE accreditation. Designed for nurses with a desire to obtain the most specialized qualifications available for advanced practice, this is an online program that uses both asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences. This is a thirty-four semester credit program that will take two to four years to complete, depending on whether studying full-time or part-time and which track is being pursued. June 1st is the application deadline for post-master’s students. Baccalaureates must apply before April 1st each year.
  • The DNP program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville is available through their College of Nursing. Nurses are prepared for competent, professional advanced nursing practice at the highest level. They become healthcare systems leaders, educators and experts able to provide patients with care in a variety of clinical atmospheres. The curriculum is offered part-time and while online learning is a strong component of course delivery, campus attendance is also required. Students take six or seven credits each semester and complete the program in seven semesters (or two and a half years). It is imperative that all applications are submitted with completed materials no later than February 1st each year.
  • Union University offers a DNP program on their Hendersonville, Jackson and Germantown campuses – with portions of their curriculum delivered online. Students strengthen their clinical expertise and gain extensive experience in advanced practice. They broaden their knowledge of nursing theory, systems of healthcare and treatment delivery. Students complete the degree requirements according to a fixed curricular schedule that is delivered over the course of two years. March 1st is the annual deadline date for applications.
  • The DNP program available at the School of Nursing at Vanderbilt University is offered in a blended format that includes both online learning and onsite intensives. Nurses hone their leadership skills with their knowledge of using scientific evidence to manipulate necessary changes in clinical care. There is a focus on healthcare delivery and graduates pursue careers in competent advanced practice. Full-time post-master’s students will complete their degree in four semesters (a year and a half), but there is a six semester (two year) plan available for part-time students. Priority consideration is given to applicants who submit their packets before January 15th each year. After this date, applications are reviewed until the cohort is full.

Tennessee DNP Checklist

Continued academic achievement is a necessity when applying to these programs. Outstanding grades are imperative, particularly throughout graduate study. Master’s coursework can be completed through an available bridge program, but enrollment into the doctorate will still rely on exceptional grades throughout. Space is limited in these programs due to the shortage of nursing faculty, and admittance is a competitive process. It is important to contact the schools that interest you and find out about their application procedures and deadline dates. Ensure application packets contain all the required materials and are submitted in good time. While each school has their own set of requirements, some prerequisites are not negotiable. This is a list of what is needed when applying to a DNP program in Tennessee:

  • On a 4.0 scale, the minimum accumulated Grade Point Average score allowed is 3.0 but many schools will only consider those with a score of at least 3.5.
  • Possession of a current registered nursing license is not negotiable and must allow specialized practice without any restrictions throughout Tennessee.
  • You will need to provide the school with examples of your creative written work. Scholarly papers are excellent for this requirement.
  • Detail your reasons for requiring a doctoral education in a well written essay. It is important to describe your career objectives in a concise manner and the role that doctorate qualifications will play in these goals.
  • Include all past and present academic pursuits, professional achievements and voluntary experiences in your resume prior to submission.
  • Your attendance at a personal interview with the school is compulsory. It is advised that your schedule is cleared for timely arrival and so that the interview progresses without haste.
  • Proof must be submitted for all clinical hours accrued as both a graduate student and an Advanced Nurse Practitioner.
  • You must have obtained a grade of no less than C (or better) on core graduate courses in nursing theory, research and statistics over the last five years.
  • Proof will be required that nationally accredited programs were responsible for your completed BSN and MSN degrees.
  • An investigation into your criminal history will be forthcoming and your medical record must be provided, including your latest health check and vaccination schedule.
  • You will need to request official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions where academic studies were pursued.
  • You will require three letters of reference from reliable and professional individuals such as nursing colleagues, employers, physicians, supervisors and academic mentors.

The nursing industry has a huge responsibility to continually change and adapt for improvement. Scientific data is constantly being accrued. Doctorates dedicate their careers to integrating this information into everyday practice. Their expertise makes them leaders of the nursing discipline and they are paid exorbitant salaries for their knowledge. They have career flexibility that includes choosing from numerous job offers after graduation and they are all employed in fantastic positions soon after completing their degree. Nurses with a love of patient care are encouraged to obtain their Doctorate in Nursing Practice.