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Kentucky Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs are a great opportunity for nurses wishing to earn a terminal level degree. The DNP focuses on clinical practice, which differs from the research-focused PhD. Currently, there are seven DNP programs in the state of Kentucky, with the University of Kentucky's (UK) being the nation's first DNP program. This number is likely to grow in the following years, as the AACN is pushing to move the level of education necessary for advanced practice certification from the master's level to the DNP by 2015.
The various Kentucky DNP programs have a similar mission. Each aims to prepare nurses with the ability to use information and studies to improve the quality of healthcare and to enforce evidence-based practice. The programs wish to create nurses who are leaders in clinical practice and healthcare administration, and who have the ability to transform the medical field through policy changes.
Admission requirements are similar between the various DNP programs in Kentucky, but there are often slight differences between programs. Common requirements are a bachelor's or master's degree from an accredited program, a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0, official transcripts, unencumbered RN and/or APRN licensure and certification, three letters of recommendation, essay or goal statement, current resume, satisfactory GRE results, and an admissions interview.
Some Kentucky DNP programs are open to only applicants with a master's degree, while others also offer a post-baccalaureate pathway. Bellarmine University, for example, offers only a post-master's entry-point, and a curriculum that consists of 35-38 credit hours, depending on whether students choose the Advanced Practice Nursing Focus or the Executive Leadership Focus. The University of Kentucky and Murray State University are two of the programs that offer both a post-BSN and post-MSN entry-point. UK's curriculum consists of a minimum of 80 credits for post-BSN and a minimum of 40 credits for post-MSN. Murray State's DNP curriculum is comparable to this, requiring post-bachelor's students to complete 79 credits and post-master's students to complete 38.
The cost to attend DNP programs in Kentucky varies by program, and some universities do not make this information as readily available as others. Tuition at Bellarmine University is currently $725 per credit hour.