Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)

Program Co-Coordinator: Jeanette Ayers-Kawakami, DNP, MSN, RN

Program Co-Coordinator: Bobbie Elisala

University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, School of Nursing (UH Hilo SON)
School of Nursing Office
200 W. Kāwili Street
Hilo, HI 96720

Program Description

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the practice-focused doctoral degree developed in response to the endorsement of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) position paper recognizing the DNP as the credential for advanced nursing practice. The DNP is equivalent to entry level professional degrees offered by other health care disciplines including Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) and the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) opportunities culminating in a practice inquiry project. The curriculum is based on the AACN essentials of Doctoral education for Advanced Practice Nurses. Students will participate in lectures, seminars, laboratory simulations, and site visits to rural communities. Research methods and evidence based practice provide opportunities for data analysis, research critique, evidence–based presentations, formulation and evaluation of a practice inquiry research project. At the conclusion of the program, all students will demonstrate competence in the eight essentials of doctoral education, be prepared for their specialty role as an individual health care provider, and be trained for leadership roles within the larger health care system.


The Doctorate of Nursing practice (DNP) is a program designed to prepare the nurse at an advanced level of nursing science. The program emphasizes the development of the student’s capacity to impact the clinical setting as leaders and educators and to utilize clinical research to improve and transform health care. Our program is based on the understanding that nursing provides services which includes the direct care of individual clients, transcultural nursing, management of care for rural populations, administration of nursing systems, and development and implementation of health policy. In addition, the program will encompass health policy, health economics, cultural diversity, chronic care management, health promotion, and disease prevention in rural communities and will create a cadre of new nursing faculty who can immediately address the nursing faculty shortage. Advanced practice nurses with practice doctorates will address significant practice issues in a scholarly way, adopt broad system perspectives for health promotion and risk reduction, and act as agents of change that transform client/community care, participate in the on-going evaluation of health care outcomes, and assist in the translation of research that leads to positive nursing practice changes.

Program Learning Outcomes

The UH Hilo SON ascribes to the curricular elements and competencies of the DNP degree proposed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) . The DNP essentials describe the necessary foundational outcomes required for the DNP graduate.

  1. Scientific Underpinnings for Practice
  2. Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking
  3. Clinical Scholarship and Analytical Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
  4. Information Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care
  5. Health Care Policy for Advocacy in Health Care
  6. Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes
  7. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving the Nation’s Health
  8. Advanced Nursing Practice

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates from the DNP program will achieve the following program learning outcomes as a result of an integrated approach to learning, problem solving, evidence-based knowledge utilization, and skill acquisition:

  1. Synthesize theoretical knowledge and research evidence in designing primary care delivery for diverse populations across the lifespan in rural contexts.
  2. Collaborate with multidisciplinary professions, multisectoral agencies and lay communities to influence social and health policies impacting rural population health.
  3. Assume leadership role in organizational systems to improve rural population health in local and regional communities.
  4. Promote adherence to professional and ethical-legal standards of practice by individual professionals and organizations.
  5. Integrate cultural competence and social justice in addressing health disparities in rural populations.
  6. Examine research evidence in design and implementation and evaluation of policies and programs for population health in rural communities.
  7. Use best practices and technology to improve care delivery for diverse individuals, families and communities within the continuum of primary, secondary and tertiary care.
  8. Create educational programs to develop culturally competent practice and education of the nursing workforce .
  9. Design educational programs and evaluation programs to enhance rural community empowerment for health.

Admission Requirements

Acceptance is granted at the discretion of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Admissions Committee based on the criteria below:

  • UH Graduate Application
  • Application fee
  • SON Supplemental Application
  • Transcripts from all accredited colleges
  • Min GPA of 3.0
  • Current Hawaiʻi RN License, in addition to current RN license where you intend to practice
  • 3 recommendations (two from faculty, one from employer/professional)
  • Professional Goal essay
  • Interview with graduate faculty
  • Current CV/Resume
  • Background check (at the time of acceptance into the program)
  • Health Clearance: Tuberculosis clearance documentation, documentation for tetanus/diphtheria vaccination received within the last ten years; documentation for hepatitis-B vaccination series or serological evidence of immunity; serological evidence of immunity to mumps, rubella, rubeola, and varicella (at the time of acceptance into the program)

Foreign applicants must also submit:

  1. International Graduate Student Supplemental Information Form
  2. Official TOEFL score report
  3. Completion of the CGFNS Qualifying exam

Program Entry Points

Students have two program entry points to earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree:

  • The Post Baccalaureate DNP entry point is intended to allow entry into the DNP program for nurses who are not already advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).The program will educate registered nurses to be Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) with foci in Gerontological Nursing, Transcultural Nursing,and Rural Health Care.
  • The Post Masters DNP entry point offers nurses with advanced degrees in nursing specialty areas (e.g. education, administration, practice, information systems management, leadership, etc.) a doctoral program, which expands their level of practice expertise.

Further information on the details of fulfilling admissions requirements are available from the DNP Program Admissions office (808) 932-7067, School of Nursing website, or Graduate Division.

Graduation Requirements

  1. Completion of all graduate courses for the specific entry point enrolled (BSN-DNP or MSN-DNP)
  2. Minimum accepted GPA of 3.0 in all graduate courses
  3. Successful completion of 1000 practice hours or portion thereof based on previous practice experience
  4. Successful completion of Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) competencies (BSN-DNP entry point only)
  5. Successful completion of a Practice Inquiry Project
  6. Successful presentation of the Practice Inquiry Project at an oral defense
  7. Compliance with UH Hilo rules and regulations for graduation

Post-BSN to DNP Required Courses (71-73 credits)

  • NURS 618 EPI/Environmental Health (3)
  • NURS 601 Social Aspects of Health (3)
  • NURS 602 Information Systems/Technology (3)
  • NURS 603 Adv Clinical Pharmacology (3)
  • NURS 604 Advanced Clin Pathophysiology (3)
  • NURS 605 Advanced Health Assessment (4)
  • NURS 606-606L Rural Health Promotion (3), Rural Health Promotion Lab (3)
  • NURS 607-607L Primary Care of Adults (3), Primary Care of Adults Lab (3)
  • NURS 608-608L Primary Care of Older Adults (3), Prim. Care of Older Adults Lab (3)
  • NURS 609-609L Primary Care of Women (2), Primary Care of Women Lab (2)
  • NURS 610-610L Primary Care of Children (2), Primary Care of Children Lab (2)
  • NURS 611 Advanced Research Methods (3)
  • NURS 612 Evidence Based Practice (3)
  • NURS 613 Program Develop/Evaluation (3)
  • NURS 614 System-Based Leadership (3)
  • NURS 615 Health Policy: Local to Global (4)
  • NURS 616 Health Economics (3)
  • NURS 617 Practice Inquiry/Project (6)
  • Elective (1-3) (A graduate elective is required.)

MSN to DNP Required Courses (38-40 credits)

  • NURS 618 EPI/Environmental Health (3)
  • NURS 601 Social Aspects of Health (3)
  • NURS 602 Information Systems/Technology (3)
  • NURS 606 Rural Health Promotion (3)
  • NURS 611 Advanced Research Methods (3)
  • NURS 612 Evidence Based Practice (3)
  • NURS 613 Program Develop/Evaluation (3)
  • NURS 614 System-Based Leadership (3)
  • NURS 615 Health Policy: Local to Global (4)
  • NURS 616 Health Economics (3)
  • NURS 617 Practice Inquiry/Project (6)
  • Elective (1-3) (A graduate elective is required.)