DNP studentCollege Redesigns DNP Curriculum to Meet Changing Student and Health Care Needs

“Manageable for the working professional.”

These are the words any aspiring graduate student wants to hear when thinking about pursuing that next step. Most graduate students in nursing are working professionals often juggling other responsibilities in their home life as well. Tackling graduate school can often be a balancing act.

To respond to the needs of aspiring students as well as to better align UF’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program with comparative programs across the country, college faculty and administrators have been hard at work to “right-size” the DNP curriculum. The new curriculum will debut this fall.

“We carefully examined all of the courses and how they could be streamlined into less credit hours,” said Susan Schaffer, PhD, ARNP, DNP Program Director and Clinical Associate Professor. “We surveyed programs across the country and compared credit hours, courseloads and other factors. We also studied new national standards for DNP program.”

The full-time BSN to DNP program was reduced almost 20 credit hours and is now 76 credits. Although it still spans 8 semesters, the courseload per semester averages about 9-10 credits which is more manageable for students. The curriculum was consolidated to focus on the essentials and provide a clear path for development for the DNP capstone project.

The capstone project is now started in the second semester and broken up over 3 subsequent semesters. This will lead to a much improved product to enhance quality outcomes, Schaffer said.

Residency hours have been spread up across the curriculum and are more flexible as well. They are now focused on leadership competencies but will still include a sufficient number of hours for certification.

The new curriculum will be offered across five clinical tracks: adult-gerontology acute care, family nurse practitioner, pediatric acute care, pediatric primary care and psychiatric/mental health. The new changes also include eliminating the “stop-out” option which had allowed students to stop mid-program and opt to receive a master’s degree.

“This new curriculum will have a stronger focus on leadership which allows our graduates to fill a better need in the health care system,” Schaffer said. “UF has always been a leader in nursing education and we know that the DNP is the degree of the future for advanced nursing practice.”

The postmaster’s DNP curriculum was also streamlined to 35 credits and can be completed in 5 semesters or 1 ½ years.  This change shortened the program by at least a year.

Courses in both programs are completely online, and an instructional designer has been working with faculty to give these courses an innovative look and feel that are user-friendly. Clinical placements are accommodated at the student’s home area, and students only have to visit the UF campus once or twice during the program. For more information on the program, visit or call 352-273-6400.

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