The DNP Essentials

At the start of this school year, I am contemplating the DNP Essentials. As a DNP, how are you using the knowledge and skills acquired through your DNP coursework to impact healthcare outcomes? When was the last time you read the DNP Essentials and thought about how the DNP Essentials can provide a framework for your professional growth and development?

I am working with a number of students this fall who are in the final year of their DNP program and are working on their DNP projects. (Note: We need a different word for this, but “project” it is for now.) These projects will directly impact the health of the patients, improve outcomes and create another service our free clinic is able to provide to improve access to care for some of the most vulnerable in our community. As faculty or as preceptors, we all have the ability to help guide our DNP students and new graduates into roles and jobs that use all of the DNP Essentials.

In my free clinic, we recently acquired Telehealth through a grant project. We will use this technology not only to connect our patients with specialty providers to improve access to care, but we will also use it as a way to connect our patients to primary care. One of the ways to reduce healthcare costs is prevention and expert management of chronic diseases through new models of care. Utilizing Telehealth to “hot spot” patients who are potentially high utilizers of expensive services, such as the ED, directly improves the health of the patient and family and keeps healthcare costs down. It is more cost-effective to send a nurse (or DNP student) into a patient’s home with a Telehealth enabled tablet (HIPAA compliant and encrypted) to facilitate a Telehealth visit than it is for this patient to miss multiple appointments because of lack of transportation or other barrier and then end up in the ED.

By developing a new model of care for this specific patient population, the students are learning to use the knowledge and skills they have acquired through competency in the DNP Essentials. These scientific underpinnings for practice (DNP Essential I), organizational and systems thinking (DNP Essential II), information systems/technology (DNP Essential IV), interprofessional collaboration to improve healthcare outcomes (DNP Essential VI), clinical prevention and population health (DNP Essential VII), and advanced nursing practice (DNP Essential VIII) all focus on the patient and improving outcomes. One of my students will be working on this project. Data, analysis and dissemination of findings will address clinical scholarship for EBP (DNP Essential III) and health policy (DNP Essential V).

As you contemplate your reasons for starting your DNP journey or for completing your DNP degree, I urge you to return to the DNP Essentials as your guiding framework. As a DNP graduate, I have moved into roles I never dreamed of years ago. I recently looked at an assignment I completed for school a few years ago. It was one of those “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” type assignments. My thesis was “I will change the world.” Using the knowledge, skills and abilities I gained through completion of my DNP degree, I am changing to world. Will you join me?

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