The initial process focused on faculty mapping of the DNP Essentials (AACN, 2006) to the program objectives. The mapping process also included a discussion on program priorities and the faculty’s concept of a DNP graduate. Themes emerged: 1) the DNP must be able to lead at the healthcare organizational level, whether local, state, national, or global; 2) vulnerable populations are a major area the DNP needs to improve health care outcomes; and 3) the DNP has the underpinnings to implement evidence-based practice using translational science. Once mapping commenced, course objectives were reviewed and revised by all the DNP program faculty. Next the process of individual course development occurred.
Individual courses were developed by the faculty with expertise in that course area. Courses were mapped by the faculty designated to teach, then shared at weekly faculty meetings. The goals of course restructuring were to: 1) understand the course fit; 2) not overlap other courses; 3) cover course objectives; 4) create assignments that have direct application to the DNP role and evaluate the student’s knowledge level; 5) agree on mutual textbooks; 6) develop a clear outline of expectations for the practicum and project (Kirkpatrick & Weaver, 2013); and 7) use creativity with current educational technology in course presentation and assignments (AACN, 2015).
The contributions of faculty produced an online format consisting of eight didactic courses that build on each other, supports the DNP leadership role, and underpins the two practicum courses. An online learning system incorporates technology that can expand course presentation beyond the traditional classroom. Connectivity to websites and links to the latest journals and knowledge is one benefit. Another is the use of an e-portfolio format that not only reflects the student’s progress in the program, but can be engaged after graduation as an educational format for patients or a forum for their area of interest. Social presence of the faculty went into the design with lectures, learning activities, and opportunities for asynchronous classroom discussion. The same curriculum design was applied to the on-campus hybrid program. At the completion of the first group of cohorts of both programs, outcomes of the DNP students’ performance will be compared in relation to their skill in translational science and their DNP projects.
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