Nursing Practice, DNP

College of Nursing

Program Description:

The University of New Mexico College of Nursing recognizes a critical need, at state and national levels, to prepare nurses for the highest level of professional nursing practice. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, earned online, offers an alternative to the traditional research-focused PhD in Nursing and has an emphasis on practice.

Nursing DNP Program Tracks

Choose your concentration:

  • Clinical Concentration
  • Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership (NEOL) Concentration

What to Expect from the NEOL Concentration

  • This concentration begins in the summer and continues for six consecutive terms.
  • This didactic program is completely online, with synchronous (collaboratively online) and asynchronous (individually online) learning. A weeklong residency is held on campus each year in June, and participation is required.
  • The DNP scholarly project is a practice-oriented project that meets the needs of the DNP's community of interest. The project is NOT a dissertation, but must exemplify scholarly activity and:
    • Show practice excellence.
    • Demonstrate leadership.
    • Reflect knowledge of population health, evidence-based practice, inquiry and the integration of the DNP role in a comprehensive health care environment.

REQUIREMENT: DNP NEOL students must take and pass ANCC Board Certification for Advanced Nurse Executive NEA-BC before graduation.

NEOL Program Objectives

Objectives for NEOL Concentration Program graduates:

  • Assume the role of the doctoral prepared nurse in teaching, scholarship, leadership and service.
  • Apply analytic methods to create, evaluate and adopt effective innovations to improve health.
  • Analyze, translate and apply evidence to improve health outcomes.
  • Engage individuals and communities to develop, implement and evaluate interventions to address their health disparities.
  • Facilitate optimal health outcomes through delivery of culturally sensitive care, including clinical prevention strategies, identification of risk, individualized interventions and formation of therapeutic relationships with clients.
  • Apply clinical, community and policy interventions to reduce health inequities.
  • Evaluate and critique social policy relevant to the organization and delivery of health care.
  • Integrate and evaluate information systems in patient care technology for clinical, research and administrative best practices.
  • Apply leadership and advocacy skills in the development, implementation and evaluation of health policy.
  • Utilize effective management and organizational skills to assume a leadership role in health care delivery, policy and systems.
  • Practice nursing reflectively, guided by theory, based on best evidence and integrating creative and critical thinking.

What to Expect from the DNP Clinical Concentration

  • This curriculum begins in the summer and continues for six consecutive terms.
  • This didactic program is completely online, with synchronous (collaboratively online) and asynchronous (individually online) learning utilized.
  • A weeklong residency is held on campus each year in June, and participation is required.
  • The DNP scholarly project is a practice-oriented project that meets the needs of the DNP's community of interest. The project is NOT a dissertation, but must exemplify scholarly activity, and:
    • Show practice excellence.
    • Demonstrate leadership.
    • Reflect knowledge of population health, evidence-based practice, inquiry and the integration of the DNP role in a comprehensive health care environment.

Upon graduation, you are eligible to take the NONPH Essential Competency Exam.

For more information about Clinical DNPs visit the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Clinical Program Objectives

Objectives for Clinical Concentration Program graduates:

  • Demonstrate role competency in clinical practice, scholarship and leadership.
  • Establish interprofessional collaboration to apply analytic methods to create, adopt and evaluate effective innovations that improve the health of diverse, rural and underserved individuals and populations.
  • Design and implement evidence-based strategies to improve health outcomes.
  • Provide leadership that engages individuals, systems and communities to develop, implement and evaluate interventions to reduce health disparities.
  • Facilitate optimal health outcomes through individualized patient-centered and culturally sensitive prevention, risk identification and management.
  • Design and apply clinical, system-based, community, political and policy approaches to reduce health inequities.
  • Provide leadership in formulation, application and analysis of institutional and public policies that impact health.
  • Integrate and evaluate clinical information systems and patient care technologies to further evidence-based professional practice.
  • Apply interprofessional leadership and advocacy skills in the development, implementation and evaluation of clinical practice models, health policy and standards of care.
  • Utilize effective management and organizational skills to assume a leadership role in health care delivery, policy and systems.
  • Apply professional values and ethical decision making in practice.
  • Continuously improve the quality of one's own clinical practice based on knowledge of evolving evidence, professional reflection and personal accountability.

Admission Requirements:

Application Deadlines:

  Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership (NEOL) Concentration applications are accepted on a rolling admission process October through April. The program begins in     the summer.

 Clinical Concentration applications are accepted only once in a calendar year. The program begins in the summer. The D.N.P. Clinical Concentration application deadlines are noted on the College of Nursing Web site.  

    Exceptions to any concentration admission criterion (see below) are considered on an individual basis and are at the discretion of the D.N.P. program committee recommendations with approval by the Academic Dean. 

Once admitted, students must fulfill the UNM Health Sciences Center’s (HSC) and College of Nursing deadlines during the first semester, including, but not limited to, immunization records, urine drug screen, background screenings, life support certifications, Bloodborne Pathogens and HSC HIPAA trainings.

Nurse Executive Organizational Leadership Concentration Admission Criteria:

  • Must have either a B.S.N. or a Master’s degree in a related field (M.B.A., M.P.A., M.P.H., M.S.A.), or a Master's degree in Nursing with a Nurse Administration or related concentration (informatics, health policy, clinical, etc.), and have at least three years of progressive management experience, or the equivalent as determined by the application committee.
  • Applicants who do not meet the M.S.N. in Nursing Administration requirement will be admitted to the NEOL D.N.P. program predicated on passing a compressive exam by the end of the first semester. Should the student not pass the examination, they will be required to complete an Independent Study designed to address areas for improvement identified in the examination.
  • Applicants must have at least a 3.0 GPA at the master’s level (with a 3.5+ GPA preferred).

  • Minimum of three years in progressive nursing management or leadership practice management.

  • Must have a graduate level inferential statistics course within the past five years or complete one within the program of studies.

  • Current and unencumbered RN license from one of the 50 U.S. states or territories; if an advanced practice nurse or certified in a nursing specialty, a copy of your advanced practice license or certification must be submitted.

  • Must agree to sign a commitment to enroll in the program of studies course sequencing based on terms and must participate in the required annual D.N.P. residency week held on campus the summer term of each year.

  • Personal interview will be arranged and can be in person or by phone or Web based conferencing.

  • A letter of intent which specifies career goals and a clear statement of how the D.N.P. will advance the applicant’s executive administrative practice

  • Current Curriculum Vitae or Resume. 

  • Submission of either a 2-3 page scholarly document with a description or an example of a specific health care administrative problem that the applicant would like to see changed (preferably the D.N.P. Project idea), or a 1st authored scholarly publication.

  • Three references from those who know the applicant’s work best and can comment on the applicant’s abilities to succeed in a higher level and advanced nursing executive role. These may be from a professor, supervisor, or colleague (no more than one may be from colleagues).

  •  Official transcripts from each college or university attended

  • Must have pre-arranged practice site(s) for the residency and capstone courses, and meet all clinical clearances and liability of those site(s). All practice sites, liabilities and clearances must be obtained by end of first term of enrollment.

Clinical Concentration Admission Criteria

Applicants must:

  • Have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from an accredited school or university. (RN’s with baccalaureate degree in non-nursing fields are considered on an individual basis).

  • Have a Master’s degree as an Advanced Practice Nurse, Certified Nurse Midwife or Clinical Nurse Specialist from a nationally accredited program.   

  •  Have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in nursing courses at the master’s level.

  • Possess a current and unencumbered, Registered Nurse and Advanced Practice or Midwifery license from the state in which they will be completing their practicum, and submit these with their applications.

  • Possess current national certification in their specialty, and a copy must be submitted with the application.   

  • Agree to sign a commitment to enroll in the program of study with course sequencing, and must participate in the required annual D.N.P. residency week held on campus the summer semester of each year.

  • Participate in a personal interview (to be arranged by the D.N.P. Program Admissions Committee and may be in person, by phone or via web conference).

  • Submit a letter of intent which specifies short and long term professional goals, and a clear statement of how the D.N.P. will advance your clinical nursing practice.

  • Include a current CV/resume. 

  •  Include a 2-3 page essay that identifies a system or population focus and related health problem area that you intend to address as part of your D.N.P. program of scholarship.

  •  Include three professional references from those who know your work well and can comment on your abilities to succeed in doctoral education and an advanced leadership role. At least one must be from an individual who has evaluated your work in the past, such as a professor or supervisor.

  • Include official transcripts from each college or university ever attended.


Career Opportunities:

Nursing combines science and technology with the desire to help people. Nurses assess patient health problems and needs, develop and implement nursing care plans, and maintain medical records. Administer nursing care to ill, injured, convalescent, or disabled patients. Nurses may advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention or provide case management. Licensing or registration required. Includes advance practice nurses such as: nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives, and certified registered nurse anesthetists. Advanced practice nursing is practiced by RNs who have specialized formal, post-basic education and who function in highly autonomous and varied roles. 

In all states, the District of Columbia, and U.S territories, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination, known as the NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license. Nurses may be licensed in more than one State, either by examination or by the endorsement of a licensed issued by another State. Nursing programs range from associate degrees to graduate level programs; higher degrees typically involve a broader and more complex scope of patient care. UNM offers a variety of degree options at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. 


Contact Information:

Jeri Belsher: Academic Advisement Specialist
(505) 272-4223
jbelsher@salud.unm.edu