The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is a practice-focused doctorate for nurses for want a higher degree that gives them a clinical focus. It is the highest academic degree available in the field of nursing, and the University of Arkansas is the only nursing school in Arkansas that offers a DNP option to nurses with bachelor’s degrees. The University of Arkansas DNP program prepares advanced practice nurses to work as experts and leaders in complex healthcare settings. There are two entry levels for the program, one for nurses with bachelor’s degrees and one for nurses with master’s degrees.

With a nationwide shortage of medical providers, fast track DNP programs like the one being offered at the University of Arkansas are very beneficial to nurses and the healthcare system. The program takes longer to complete for nurses who start without a master’s degree but many students and faculty feel that the benefits make the program worthwhile. The program takes three to four years to complete and graduates of the program can pursue licensure as family nurse practitioners or adult geriatric acute care nurse practitioners.

The program is very fast and convenient for many students since its mostly online, only requiring students to come to campus one time per semester for advanced health assessment training. Most students are able to complete the program while still holding full-time nursing jobs. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas began offering the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree online in the fall of 2013. Students complete coursework online and arrange clinical practicum hours in their local area with qualified preceptors to supervise them. The DNP degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

One student in particular has gained real value from the BSN to DNP degree. Teshekia Hawkins wanted to be a nurse her whole life and she just graduated in May 2016 as one of the first University of Arkansas graduates to complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program. Hawkins knew that the advanced degree would set her above other nurses with master’s degrees, especially in the competitive Dallas area where she plans to work in a leadership role to help improve quality of patient care. As the first in her family to receive a terminal degree (the highest degree possible in a specific field), Hawkins hopes to set a high example for others.

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