FAST FACTS: Our DNP Specialization

American Sentinel University is one of the few nursing schools in the U.S. to have a DNP degree program specifically designed to offer flexibility for Advanced Practice Nurses (NP), Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) and Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS). Here’s what you need to know, at a glance.

Program mission

In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to endorse the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing. This decision called for moving the current level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master’s degree to the doctorate-level. American Sentinel has developed a program to create more marketable leadership skills and give nurses more educational parity with other healthcare leaders, who often hold an MBA, MPH, or MHA.

Industry need

  • In its landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) calls for “a style of leadership that involves working with others as full partners in a context of mutual respect and collaboration.” It cites studies that show this style of leadership is associated with better patient outcomes, fewer medical errors, and greater staff satisfaction. Yet it recognizes that transforming the current healthcare hierarchy into something more equitable won’t be easy.
  • The IOM also notes that: “The nursing profession must produce leaders throughout the healthcare system, from the bedside to the boardroom, who can serve as full partners with other health professionals and be accountable for their own contributions to delivering high-quality care while working collaboratively with leaders from other health professions.”

Why not a Ph.D.?

The two types of terminal degree programs differ in goals and competencies. The Ph.D. prepares nurses for a career in research, while the DNP is practice- and leadership-oriented. Our DNP allows nurse leaders to gain credibility, management skills, credentials and industry knowledge needed in the rapidly changing healthcare environment. 

Our program requirements

  • The program is open to nurses with a minimum of one year of full-time work experience in one of the following areas: faculty role, hospital management/leadership, Advanced Practice Nurse (NP), Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS).
  • Applicants must have an active nursing license and an MSN degree from an accredited institution. (Foreign students must have a comparable degree from a recognized institution).
  • No GRE or other placement test is required.
  • Applicants with master’s degrees in related fields (e.g., MBA, MHA, MPH) can get transfer credits toward the MSN program at American Sentinel, which they must first complete before being accepted in the DNP Specialization. You can find information about our MSN bridge program here.

Practice learning experiences

These interactive learning assignments are an important part of our DNP program. They are built into the courses and do not add additional work. They include:

  • Practice learning: course assignments that allow you to use what you learned in the online classroom out in the real world.
  • Precepted experiences: Course assignments that take place in the workplace or other healthcare settings.
  • Capstone project: a project you design and implement as an independent study, in a topic of your choosing.

Your coursework will ultimately prepare you to…

  • Appraise the needs of complex organizations as they go through strategic decision-making and change implementation.
  • Critique roles of leaders and collaborators in planning, providing, and evaluating healthcare.
  • Generate strategic plans for organizational change by utilizing theoretical knowledge, meaningful, data and evidence-based practice to while being culturally and ethnically sensitive.
  • Utilize evidence-based data and analytic methods to develop, implement and evaluate best practices to advance healthcare.
  • Engage in complex, evidence-based advanced nursing practice and evaluate innovative approaches to care delivery for individuals, communities and populations.
  • Work within interdisciplinary teams to effectively, promote health, enhance patient outcomes and improve healthcare delivery systems.

Fast, flexible, and affordable course of study

  • The DNP program is only 28 months long and individual classes are eight weeks in length.
  • Rolling admission means you can start with any of the DNP starts (nine per year)—you’re not locked into traditional semester calendars.
  • Classes are online, designed for working professionals—with the exception of a four-day residency in Aurora, Colorado at the start of the program.
  • During the second year of study, a two-day virtual residency requires no travel.
  • Most of our students graduate without debt due to our competitive tuition rates and flexible payment options.

To chat with an Admissions advisor, please call 866.922.5690!