As baby boomer healthcare professionals prepare for retirement, higher-level healthcare positions across the country are opening up. Opportunities are emerging for the next generation of experienced nurses to take on leadership roles and help tackle complex decisions about the future of our healthcare system. For nurses with an MSN degree who want to seize these opportunities, an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program can provide the training needed to start the process of becoming leaders in either clinical or systems positions.

Skills, Concepts, or Opportunities an NP Certificate Degree Can Provide

DNP classes can vary by program, but a typical DNP curriculum can help students develop skills and expertise in the following key areas:

  • Evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice, or EBP, is a clinical approach that integrates three components into patient care decision-making: clinical expertise, patient values, and the best available research evidence. EBP is now used across healthcare fields, and it’s widely seen as the most effective way to provide high-quality patient care. Students learn how to apply evidence, how to gather new evidence, and how to determine patient preferences and values.
  • Patient care. Improving patient outcomes is the primary goal of any position a DNP may take on. Students learn about issues such as patient safety and quality of patient care in order to prepare them to make patient care decisions at a higher level.
  • Healthcare policy and setting. Familiarizing themselves with current healthcare policy and how healthcare is practiced across different settings prepares students to effect policy changes, whether they’re working in government, advocacy, or another role.
  • Legislative advocacy. There’s great demand for DNPs who can work to advocate for changes in healthcare policy, working to protect patients or to ensure that policies reflect the latest research.

Common Courses for DNP Students

Specific DNP classes may vary by program, but most universities will offer courses that touch on the following core topics. These are some of the courses commonly offered for this degree:

Ethics for Advanced Nursing Practice. In this course, students explore ethical principles and decision-making models for nursing practice at the highest level. Using evidence-based nursing and inter-professional literature, students analyze ethical dilemmas that occur in nursing practice.

Quality and Patient Safety in Advanced Nursing Practice. Students get to work on systems thinking in this course, which introduces the foundational concepts of process improvement (PI) and quality improvement (QI). Students will examine these concepts through a theoretical lens and learn about select process improvement tools.

Clinical Inquiry. This course lets students take an active role in evidence-based research, as they design their own research studies to inform clinical practice. Students will navigate feasibility and budget issues, train human subjects, and write a proposal.

Organizations Theory and Systems Leadership. In this course, students can learn to analyze organizational, management, and social science theories related to organizational leadership and change management. Another opportunity to exercise systems thinking, this course prepares students for a possible path in systems management.

Maryville University Online DNP Curriculum

The online DNP program at Maryville University aims to prepare future healthcare leaders for high-level careers in clinical practice, policy, advocacy, systems leadership, and more.

Check out a full list of Maryville’s Online DNP course offerings here:

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Core and Capstone Courses

The DNP program is 11 courses, 33 credit hours

Doctor of Nursing Practice Foundation Courses (15 credit hours)

NURS 700Principles of Epidemiology and Biostatistics3 Credits
NURS 701Foundations of Clinical Scholarship3 Credits
NURS 702Integrating and Synthesizing Research3 Credits
NURS 709Advanced Health Care Policy3 Credits
NURS 710Graduate Statistics 3 Credits

Doctor of Nursing Practice Capstone Courses (18 credit hours)

NURS 703Ethics For Advanced Nursing Practice3 Credits
NURS 704Quality and Patient Safety in Advanced Nursing Practice3 Credits
NURS 705Clinical Inquiry I3 Credits
NURS 706Clinical Inquiry II3 Credits
NURS 707Clinical Inquiry III3 Credits
NURS 708Organizations Theory and Systems Leadership3 Credits

Doctor of Nursing Practice with NP Concentration (DNP-NP)

DNP-NP students complete the courses listed above plus:

Graduate Nursing Core Courses (6 credit hours)

NURS 603Professional Role Development3 Credits
NURS 610Health Promotion/Disease Prevention3 Credits

Nurse Practitioner Core Courses (11 credit hours)

NURS 611Advanced Pathophysiology 3 Credits
NURS 612Advanced Health Assessment5 Credits
NURS 615Advanced Pharmacotherapeutics3 Credits