School of Nursing

DNP Program Guidelines


The purpose of this Program Guideline is to assist you while you are a graduate student in the School of Nursing at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo (UH Hilo SON). The information contained in this guideline is supplemental to, but does not replace, the information in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Graduate Student Handbook, General Catalog, Scholarship Applications, Financial Aid office bulletins and the University of Hawaiʻi’s MyUH site.

The UH Hilo General Catalog includes requirements, academic standards, regulations, financial aid information, and school programs. It is available for purchase at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Bookstore. Familiarity with all University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo rules and regulations, and graduation requirements as published in the catalog is the responsibility of the student. The student must meet all requirements as stipulated in the catalog at the time of admission to the University to qualify for graduation. This publication is available at

UH Hilo Schedule of Classes is distributed by the Office of the Registrar during each registration period. Included in the publication are registration procedures, specific information on courses and times offered each semester, fees, and change of registration procedures.

Scholarship information for Nursing Students will be available throughout the school term. Please check the School of Nursing website periodically.

Mission Statement and Essentials


The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree in nursing focusing on nursing leadership and application of research into practice. The DNP program is also designed to prepare the nurse at an advanced level of nursing practice specifically as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and as leaders and administrators for health care organizations. 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 nurses provide services which include the direct care of individual clients, transcultural nursing care, management of care for rural populations, administration of nursing systems, and development and implementation of health policy. The program encompasses 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.


The philosophy of UH Hilo SON is to educate professional nurses to lead change and translate science into practice in a dynamic global health care environment. Our school promotes transcultural nursing with a focus on rural populations and communities where each person has the right to participate in making decisions that affect their health.

Our emphasis includes deepening commitments to social justice, improving the quality of healthcare, and advancing access to the underserved. Our vision is a world where our graduates will strive to promote health, alleviate suffering, provide service to the community, and become leaders at local and global levels.

DNP Education

DNP graduates will increase the number of primary care providers available to residents of Hawaiʻi, in addition, it will also create a pool of qualified nursing faculty candidates to address the severe nursing faculty shortage. DNP graduates will also be given the opportunity to focus on organizational systems and nurse leadership issues which will qualify the DNP graduates for leadership positions in administration, research, clinical care delivery, patient outcome and systems management, and the nursing academic workforce.

DNP Essentials

The UHH 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

Program Learning Outcomes For UH Hilo DNP Program

Graduates from the UH Hilo SON 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.

Program Information & Policies

Admission to the DNP Program

  • Application for UH Hilo Graduate School
    • A non-refundable UH Hilo application fee
    • Official transcripts from all previous colleges/universities attended from an accredited nursing program (if not within UH system)
    • Supplemental School of Nursing Application
    • Personal Goal Statement (600 words max)
  • Describe your professional goals and how participation in the DNP program will enhance these goals
  • Identify and briefly discuss a practice-based problem of interest to you that might serve as a topic for your final, scholarly DNP project
    • 3 Recommendations from academic and/or professional references
    • Current CV or Resume
    • Current RN Licensure for Hawaiʻi
    • Current Licensure in state where clinical practice or practice inquiry project will be conducted
    • Verification of APRN certification or license appropriate to the state where the clinical practice and practice inquiry project will be conducted
    • Interview w/graduate faculty
    • Background check (agency specific and to be done once accepted into the program)
    • Health Clearance (to be done after turning in application and getting accepted into the program): 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. Others as requested by agency.

For International Students:

  • TOEFL/IELTS results to be sent to UH Hilo
  • Successful completion of CGFNS exam

Program Entry-Points

Students have two program entry points to earn the DNP degree.

  • The Post Baccalaureate DNP entry point is intended to allow entry into the DNP program for nurses who have completed the BSN. The program will educate registered nurses to be Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) with concentrations in gerontology, transcultural nursing, rural health care, and evidence-based practice.
  • The Post Masters DNP entry point offers nurses with advanced degrees in nursing specialty areas (e.g. APRN or education, administration, practice, information systems management, leadership etc.) a doctoral program which expands their level of evidence-based practice expertise in an area of student interest.

School of Nursing Core Requirements for DNP

All students must complete the core nursing requirements for the DNP track. Six credits of graduate nursing course work may be transferred after approval of courses by the faculty.

Supervised experiences are required for a number of the DNP courses (see course descriptions) and necessitate the oversight of faculty from the School of Nursing and expert preceptors from the community. These supervised experiences are arranged in advance and require prior approval from the School of Nursing and the faculty of record for the course. Examples of supervised experiences include a clinical practice environment while enrolled in FNP courses or guided experiences in the leadership course.

The Practice Inquiry Project (PIP) (see course description) is a program requirement for all students. The DNP student in conjunction with their Advisory Committee selects this requisite project. The Advisory Committee has oversight of the project from conception to completion.

Policy on DNP Nursing Courses

School of Nursing must formally approve agencies and institutions in which the student desires to meet practicum objectives. An authorized agent at the practicum site must also provide formal approval for the student to practice at the site. Please review the Appendix section for Preceptor/Student information.

Policy of DNP Completion

The post Baccalaureate DNP expected graduation is 3 years after admission. Students in the Post Baccalaureate DNP program may take an additional two (2) years to complete the program after the expected graduation date. A student that has not completed her/his degree after five years will be placed on probation. The post Master’s DNP expected graduation is 2 years after admission. Students in the Post Master’s DNP program may take an additional three (3) years to complete the program after the expected graduation date. A student that has not completed her/his degree after five years will be placed on probation.”

Clinical Lab Courses

Satisfactory performance in practicum is required in order to receive academic credit and is designated as “CR”.

Practice Hours

A minimum of 1,000 practice hours is required to meet AACN standards for the DNP program. Practice hours are defined within the courses.

  • MSN/NP students entering into the program with 500 hours documented practice hours will be required to complete an additional 500 practice hours to meet the required 1000 hours. These hours have been integrated ito the DNP curriculum.
  • MSN students entering the program will undergo gap analysis and will be required to complete practice hours to fulfill the requirement of 1000 hours post BSN.

Practice Inquiry Project

UH Hilo requires a Practice Inquiry Project (NURS 617) for all DNP students; as the culminating course, emphasis is placed on the demonstration of knowledge synthesis in doctoral level nursing practice defined by the program outcomes. The practice inquiry project is a scholarly project designed to address a practice issue affecting groups of patients, healthcare organizations or health care systems. Students implement the practice inquiry project and evaluate outcomes of the project during the course. The practice inquiry project provides faculty the opportunity to evaluate students’ achievement of program outcomes.

The practice inquiry project is guided by an Advisory Committee composed of School of Nursing faculty that have experience facilitating graduate level projects and who have content expertise in the area of inquiry. The student is responsible for assembling the Advisory Committee. Students work with their Advisory Committee in the implementation and evaluation of the project. Each student will have a minimum of two readers for the project. Successful achievement of the project will be based on an oral presentation and a written paper. The oral presentation will be presented to the Advisory Committee. The written paper will be submitted to the Advisory Committee for review and approval. Once the project is approved, a final copy will be submitted to the School of Nursing archives and a copy will be housed in the Edwin H. Mookini Library. A candidate who does not successfully complete the oral or written defense of their project may request another project defense (written and oral) at a date no earlier than the following semester. If the student fails to pass on a second attempt, the student will be dropped from the degree program.

Practice Inquiry Project Outcomes, students will:

  • Develop realistic timelines for project implementation, outcomes evaluation and completion of report with Advisory Committee.
  • Consult regularly with the Advisory Committee throughout the project residency.
  • Submit progress reports to the Advisory Committee as determined by a timeline set by the student and the committee members.
  • Satisfy ethical requirements for project implementation (IRB approval).
  • Select appropriate technology and resources for data collection, analysis and reporting.
  • Collaborate with multidisciplinary practitioners, multisectoral agencies and lay communities in comprehensive implementation and evaluation of project outcomes.
  • Update review of the literature.
  • Complete Practice Inquiry Project written report and submit to the Advisory Committee for approval.
  • Orally defend the Practice Inquiry Project at the School of Nursing.
  • Submit a final written copy to the School of Nursing and the Edwin H. Mookini Library.
  • Present Practice Inquiry Project in a Campus-wide colloquium.
  • Submit plan for wide dissemination of Practice Inquiry Project in scholarly publications or conferences.

Matriculation Credit: Students that do not finish their project during the last semester are required to be continuously enrolled and take one matriculation credit for each semester until graduation. See “Policy of Completion” for supplemental information.

Academic Policies

Please refer to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Graduate Handbook. This can be found on the School of Nursing website or the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Graduate website.

Academic Suspension & Dismissal (Supplemental to UH Graduate Handbook)

Students have the right to participate in the UH Hilo grievance protocol. Reasonable cause for suspension or dismissal includes but is not limited to the demonstrable behaviors contrary to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice of the American Nurses' Association, the International Council of Nurses and the rules and regulations of the Hawaiʻi Board of Nursing (Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes, Chapter 457). Students are responsible to be knowledgeable regarding these aforementioned codes, rules, and regulations.

Educational Rights & Responsibilities

Responsibilities of Students

At all times and in all settings (in the classroom, in the seminars, in the laboratory, practicum or other institutional setting, and during conferences) students are expected to adhere to the highest academic standards of behavior and conduct. (For specific information refer to the Academic Regulations published in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo General Catalog.

Student Conduct Code

DNP students are preparing for a service profession which expects members of its community to adhere to a high ethical and moral standard. All students must abide by the UH Hilo Student Conduct Regulations published in the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo General Catalog. Failure to adhere to this code may result in course failure and/or dismissal from the nursing program.

Student Conduct Code in Clinical Setting

Students are expected to meet health requirements, dress codes and all applicable policies of the clinical facilities. It is important to:

  • Be on time.
  • Report to appropriate people.
  • Let faculty or clinical area know if you are ill and cannot be there before the assigned clinical time.
  • Follow the agency dress code.
  • Act in a professional manner at all times.
  • Respect the policies of the agencies. Remember you represent the School of Nursing.

Dress Code

Appropriate and professional attire is required for all lab and clinical experiences. Open toed shoes, high heels, midriff tops and shorts are unacceptable attire. Please limit facial jewelry to earrings only. Inappropriate and/or unprofessional attire will result in dismissal from the clinical and an unexcused absence. A lab coat and UH student ID should be worn at all times during the clinical experience.

Transfer Credits

Students must refer to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Graduate Handbook for specific policies and contact the Program Coordinator to discuss what courses can be transferred. However, the UH Hilo School of Nursing requires students to take the following courses from our program:

  • NURS 603 Adv Clinical Pharmacology (3) ,
  • NURS 605 Advanced Health Assessment (4) ,
  • and NURS 612 Evidence Based Practice (3) .

Incomplete Grades (Supplemental to UH Graduate Handbook)

Students who receive an Incomplete grade, must inform the DNP Program Director by completing the form: Notification of Incomplete Grade, submit it to the Program Director, and discuss a plan of action to successfully complete the course and meet required deadlines, published on the UH Hilo Academic Calendar.

The following three courses: Advanced Pharmacology, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Advanced Health Assessment must be completed prior to enrolling in any clinical (L) courses. Students receiving an I (incomplete) grade in these three courses will not be able to advance in the L courses.

Leave of Absence

Discuss Leave of Absence requirements and criteria with the DNP Program Coordinator. Please refer to the graduate student handbook for more details.


In order to withdraw from a course, students must discuss their situation with their instructor and the DNP Program Coordinator. Please refer to the UH Hilo Academic Calendar available online at the Registrar's website for appropriate dates to withdraw from a course. For more information, please refer to the graduate student handbook for more details.

Responsibilities of Faculty

In the classroom, in the laboratory, practicum or other instructional setting, and during conferences, faculty members are expected to adhere to the highest professional standards of behavior conduct. For specific information refer to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Student Academic Complaint Policy (May 1992).

Academic Grievances

For academic grievances the student is referred to the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo Academic Complaint Policy (Academic # 42005). See University of Hawaiʻi Hilo Academic Affairs.

Pre-Requisites (Non-Academic)

Malpractice Insurance

Arrangements will be made by the School of Nursing for all students to be covered by malpractice insurance of at least $1,000,000 per incident/ $3,000,000 aggregate. It must be current for the entire year.

Health Coverage

A physical exam must be completed on entry to the program, and a healthcare provider's statement and immunization record must be on file in the Nursing Office. TB clearance must be done annually for continuing students. Some clinical facilities have special requirements and students must meet those to obtain clinical experience at those agencies. Faculty will inform students of the requirements. All annual renewals must be completed prior to pre-registration or student's registration will be held.

CPR Certification

Must be current every year and must include one person/two person, infant, and child (AHA BLS Health Provider Level Course or Red Cross Professional Rescuer Level).

Health Insurance

All students are required to have personal health insurance.

Prerequisite Deficiencies

Newly admitted students must have prerequisites of CPR Certification (BLS Health Provider Level), current TB clearance documentation, and health insurance by the deadline specified on the acceptance letter documents. Laboratory documentation (Titers) is required of all students for proof of immunity for Rubella, Rubeola, Mumps, Varicella and Hepatitis B. Incoming students must have completed titers prior to the first semester of enrollment in the Department of Nursing. If this requirement is not completed, students will have a hold placed on their registration until the requirement is met.

Health Risk

DNP students can be exposed to selected health risks related to the environment of their learning experiences. Clinical labs are held in medical centers, clinics, and in various community locations. Enrolling in the DNP program requires students to be aware of possible health risks in practice sittings that may lead to unintended exposure to health risks.

Payment for Emergency Care

Students enrolled in the School of Nursing have potential for exposure to communicable diseases or may sustain injuries in the clinical setting. The clinical agencies will render emergency care at the clinical site but students are financially liable for all care received including emergency room charges.

Background Check and Drug Testing

DNP students are required to complete University-prescribed academic requirements that involve clinical practice in approved University-affiliated agency settings. It is the responsibility of the student to satisfactorily complete affiliated-agency background checks and drug testing requirements in accordance with procedures and timelines as prescribed by the affiliated agency. It is also the student’s responsibility to pay for the background checks and drug testing.

Other Policies & Procedures

Illegal Drugs & Substance Abuse

In conformance with the existing law, students are not permitted to manufacture, distribute, possess, use, dispense or be under the influence of illegal drugs as prohibited by State and Federal law, at the university-sponsored or approved events or on university property or in buildings used by the university for education, research or recreational programs. Consistent with its mission, the university will cooperate with law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing laws related to the use of illegal drugs. Students found in violation shall be subject to the provisions of the student conduct code.

Gifts to Faculty & Staff

Faculty and staff of the School of Nursing are subject to the gifts section of the State Ethics Code, Chapter 84, Hawaiʻi  Revised Statutes (HRS) which provides as follows:

Section 84-11 Gifts. No legislator or employee shall solicit, accept, or receive, directly or indirectly, any gift, whether in the form of money, service, loan, travel, entertainment, hospitality, thing, or promise, or in any other form, under circumstances in which it can reasonably be inferred that the gift is intended to influence the legislator or employee in the performance of the legislator's or employee's official duties or is intended as a reward for any official action on the legislator's or employee's part.


Students are responsible to have reliable transportation for use for all clinical experiences.

Computer Requirements

Students are expected to have a university email address and access to a computer with Internet services and webcam, which may include campus resources. All nursing students are required to have a email address. If you do not have a address, you may apply online at

Special Requirements

Special fees for testing and agency-required off-campus practicum training may be required.

Preparation for Graduation

Graduation Application

An application for graduation must be obtained from, and then submitted with a fee to the Business Office. This should be done during the first three weeks of the semester that the student plans to graduate. (See the Academic Calendar for deadline date.)

Graduation Check

  • After the graduation application is completed and the student has received notice from of the applications approval, a Final Check and clearance for graduation is done by the University of Hawaiʻi Hilo.
  • Schedule a final graduation check with the Program Coordinator as necessary to clarify credits, grades, and courses for graduation.

Commencement Exercise

Commencement is a "rite of passage” for students and a memorable experience. Caps, gowns, and announcements are obtained from the bookstore. Students are encouraged to participate.

Checklist for Completion of Degree Requirements

  • Student maintains continuous enrollment in program
  • Student: Completes coursework required for degree
  • Student: Completes any other program requirements
  • Student: Registers for semester in which degree requirements will be completed
  • Student: Submits “Application for Graduation” form to the Business Office by the required deadline
  • Student: Completes required Practice Hours
  • Student: Completes Practice Inquiry Project

Licensing Bodies

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) are the governing boards that administer tests to examinees seeking to become certified as a nurse practitioner.

Professional Organizations

DNP students are encouraged to participate in professional organizations that address specialty or leadership practice.

Sigma Theta Tau

Sigma Theta Tau International has four major goals: knowledge development, knowledge dissemination, knowledge utilization, and resource development. As a chapter, Gamma Psi at-Large supports these goals and recognizes the importance of fostering local leadership in nursing in this state. To that end, this chapter provides opportunities for research funding, scholarships, and fellowship with other nurses through the annual business meeting, annual research conference, and the annual induction of new members into the organization.

Membership in the national nursing honor society is awarded to baccalaureate, graduate or doctoral nursing candidates who achieve high scholastic achievement. Also eligible are former graduates of nursing programs, those community nursing leaders who have made an outstanding contribution to nursing.

Regular membership is by invitation and based on qualifications established by Sigma Theta Tau International. Community membership is by application and based on the community nurse leader having demonstrated marked achievement in nursing education, practice, research or publication. In addition, the community nurse leader must have obtained at least a baccalaureate degree in nursing. New members are inducted into Gamma Psi Chapter-at-Large once a year in the spring semester.

American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP)

The AANP is the largest and only full-service national professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties.

The Hawaiʻi League of Nursing

The Hawaiʻi League for nursing is the state component of the National League for Nursing, which is involved in education and recruitment in nursing. Inquire about student membership rates via their website at

The Hawaiʻi Nurses' Association

The Hawaiʻi Nurses' Association is the state component of the American Nurses Association. The association is involved in many areas such as certification, standards, continuing education, and legislation. Information about membership can be found at


Orientation to Clinical Agencies

Successful achievement of clinical objectives is directly in relation to knowledge about the setting in which the learning activities occur. Consequently, all students are required to participate in the orientation to the clinical agency as directed by the preceptor or agency policy.

Assistance to Those with Special Learning Needs

Any student with a documented disability who would like to request accommodations should contact the University Disability Services Office at 933-0816 (V), 933-3334 (TTY), or you may contact UDS coordinator Susan Shirachi by email, as early in the semester as possible.


Advising is a very important resource designed to help students complete the requirements of the University and the DNP program.  Advising should be initiated once the student is assigned an advisor and continue throughout the program on a regular basis with the objective of competing the program in a timely manner. Advising will minimally consist of registration review, progression review, and practice inquiry project advisement. Different advisors may assume roles consistent with the needs or project of the students. Advising is a shared responsibility, but students have final responsibility for meeting degree requirements.

Students should consult with their advisor at least once a semester to decide on courses, check progress towards graduation, and discuss career options and other educational opportunities provided by UH Hilo.

Counseling Services

Students are encouraged to align their career focus and full attention to the requirements needed to succeed in the DNP program. Counseling services are available to students who need additional support in their personal, social and emotional lives while attending the DNP program. Counseling is available for those who need support, information, advocacy and assistance regarding sexual harassment or assault. Counselors and Nursing faculty can assist with academic and career issues and are committed to maintaining confidentiality. Any other concerns not in keeping with the mission of the program will be referred to the counselors at Student Services.

Writing Center Services

The UH Hilo Writing Center is located in the UH Hilo Mo'okini Library, 2nd floor, in the PC Lab. Generally student writing tutors are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Plan accordingly for assistance well ahead of time prior to an assignment deadline if you expect to avail yourself of these services. Times and days of availability are available from the Center.

The DNP program guidelines are also available as a Word file.