Nov 29, 2022  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Nursing Practice, D.N.P.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate Programs

Gannon Tagher, Ed.D, RN, APRN, Interim Department Chair

Lynne Zajac, Ph.D., RN, Post-Master’s Specialization Program Director

William Terry Ray, Ph.D., APRN, CRNA, Nurse Anesthesia Specialization Program Director

Doctoral education starts from the student’s experience, develops through opportunities that are individualized, student-centered and transformational, and culminates in the graduate taking on the role of nursing expert at the highest level of autonomous advanced nursing practice. Doctoral learning include opportunities for the improvement of health outcomes across diverse populations based on the best evidence. The students and faculty promote academic excellence, professionalism, integrity, and inclusiveness within the advanced nursing community through shared responsibility, interprofessional collaboration, teamwork, and mentoring relationships. This individualized student-centered learning takes place in a scholarly community grounded in standards for rigor, the nursing imperative of caring, and a plurality of voices.

The Nurse Anesthesia Program (NAP) is a specialization of the Doctor of Nursing Practice.  The program as designed, is a 36 month (106 credit hours) curriculum culminating in a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) nurse anesthesia specialization with a population focus of the family/individual across a lifespan.  Graduates will be eligible for the National Board of Certification and Re-certification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) National Certification Exam (NCE) and to assume the role of an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA).  


The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program builds upon the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006), as stated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and criteria for the clinical doctorate (2008). This is a practice focused doctoral program. Practice focused doctoral programs are designed to prepare nurses in advanced nursing practice. The focus of the DNP program is on evidence-based practice which reflects application of credible research findings. The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program includes integrative practice experiences and an intense practice immersion experience (AACN 2006).

Contact Information

Lynne Zajac, Ph.D., RN, DNP Post-Master’s Specialization Program Director, or 859-572-5778

William Terry Ray, Ph.D., APRN, CRNA, NAP Specialization Program Director, or 859-572-7966

Admission Requirements: DNP Post-Master’s Specialization

To be considered for admission to the DNP Post-Master’s Specialization, an applicant must have:

  1. A minimum of a master’s degree and hold at least one degree in nursing at or above the bachelor’s level from a nationally accredited school.
  2. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and have successfully completed an undergraduate (or higher level) statistics course.  
  3. An unencumbered RN license in the United States or the country in which the student practices and verification of RN licensure.  
  4. NKU application for graduate admission, found at
  5. Resume or Curriculum Vitae: educational background, employment history, awards and accomplishments.
  6. All official transcripts  
  7. TOEFL scores as needed per international student admissions requirements.
  8. Submission of a scholarly writing sample 
  9. Employment verification

Admission Requirements: DNP - Nurse Anesthesia Specialization

  1. Meets all NKU Graduate Admission Requirements.
  2. Submission of completed online application prior to deadline.
  3. Baccalaureate or higher degree in nursing from a fully accredited nursing program.
  4. Unencumbered license as a Registered Nurse (licenses in KY and OH required prior to admission).
  5. One year minimum full-time of critical care* experience as RN within the past 2 years with employer verification. 
  6. GPA of 3.0 or higher on 4.0 scale on all college course work.
  7. Science GPA 3.0 or higher on 4.0 scale.
  8. Prerequisites:  Statistics; Anatomy; Physiology; Chemistry; Microbiology with a cumulative science GPA of 3.0 or greater.
  9. Graduate level writing skills.
  10. Three professional recommendations/references. 
  11. Goal statement.
  12. CCRN, ACLS, BLS certification required for application.  PALS required prior to admission.
  13. Shadowing experience documentation with either a CRNA or anesthesiologist.
  14. Review the Program Technical Standards.
  15. Successful interview with Admissions Committee for selected applicants.
  16. Non-refundable matriculation fee of $1,000 if accepted into the program.  Matriculation fee will be applied to student’s account on admission.  If applicant does not enroll in program, the matriculation fee is forfeited.
  17. After acceptance, documentation of clinical requirements including immunizations, physical examination, background check, drug test and other documentation as needed.

*Critical care is defined by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) as: “Critical care experience must be obtained in a critical care area within the United States, its territories or a US military hospital outside of the United States. During this experience, the registered professional nurse has developed critical decision making and psychomotor skills, competency in patient assessment, and the ability to use and interpret advanced monitoring techniques. A critical care area is defined as one where, on a routine basis, the registered professional nurse manages one or more of the following: invasive hemodynamic monitors (e.g., pulmonary artery, central venous pressure, and arterial catheters), cardiac assist devices, mechanical ventilation, and vasoactive infusions. Examples of critical care units may include but are not limited to: surgical intensive care, cardiothoracic intensive care, coronary intensive care, medical intensive care, pediatric intensive care…..” (Standards for Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Programs, Practice Doctorate, 2016)

Application Process: DNP - Nurse Anesthesia Specialization

The application process has two parts. The first consists of the documents required to be submitted. The second part is the interview.  

Documents to be submitted:

The completed application file will contain the following documents. No application will be considered until all documents have been received.

  1. NKU application for graduate admission, found at
  2. Applications will be accepted through August 31.  All materials must be submitted by August 31 deadline.
  3. Three professional recommendations sent directly from recommender.  Suggested recommenders include: Nurse Manager; Professor; APRN, preferably CRNA; or MD.
  4. Resume or Curriculum Vitae: educational background, employment history, awards and accomplishments.
  5. All official transcripts of post-baccalaureate study.
  6. Documentation of one year full-time critical care experience as a RN within the past 2 years.
  7. Verification of CCRN, BLS, and ACLS certification.
  8. Documentation of shadowing experience
  9. TOEFL scores as needed per international student admissions requirements.
  10. Submission of goal statement indicating graduate level writing skills.  Please include your educational and professional goals, limiting statement to one page.
  11. Successful interview with Admissions Committee.  Due to the competitive nature of the admission process meeting minimum standards does not guarantee admission.  All applicants will be screened and the most qualified will be invited for interview.  Interviews will be held in October.
  12. Non-refundable matriculation fee of $1,000 if accepted into the program.  Matriculation fee will be applied to student’s account on admission.  If applicant does not enroll in program, the matriculation fee is forfeited.

♦ Indicates prerequisite.

Curriculum Requirements - Post-Master’s Specialization

All courses are in the online format.  Students should consult with their graduate program director regarding the most current sequencing of courses.

Total Hours: 35-36

Curriculum Requirements - Nurse Anesthesia Specialization

First Year NAP

Second Year NAP

Third Year NAP

DNP Project Process

The DNP Project Team is comprised of the DNP student, practice mentor, and a graduate faculty member who serves as chair. The faculty member must hold a terminal degree. The practice mentor must have expertise in the DNP student’s field of interest. The DNP Project Team Chair is facilitating the learning within the DNP Project.  The DNP’s scholarly project deliverables are a written manuscript worthy of publication and a public presentation of the completed DNP project. 

All DNP projects are submitted to the NKU Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review.  IRB processes in the facility in which the DNP project is implemented may be required as well. The student will discuss the IRB processes with their DNP Project Team Chair prior to data collection. The IRB process and IRB forms are described and found on the NKU IRB website at

  1. The DNP program shall have a project proposal process that provides for the Office of Graduate Education, the program, and the candidate, a written and signed document defining the expectations of the program for a successful project.
  2. The “approval of the project proposal” is deemed successful when the project chair files appropriate paperwork with the Office of Graduate Education signifying approval for the candidate to move forward.  Until the project presentation is scheduled, the initial proposal may be amended with unanimous agreement of the project team.
  3. A project presentation may not be scheduled without a signed project proposal. The candidate and/or DNP faculty shall initiate the scheduling of the presentation.  Project presentation scheduling requires the concurrence of all members.
  4. The DNP program must provide alternatives for candidates to alter or change project chairs and team membership.
  5. The “completion of the project” is deemed successful when both the chair and the practice mentor of the Project Team vote approval.
  6. Project presentation shall be open to the public.

Information for this process can be found under Doctoral Degree Specific Information under Degree & Certificate Exit Program Requirements in the Graduate Catalog.

Graduation Requirements

To be eligible for the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, the student must:

  1. Successfully complete all course requirements, DNP project requirements and achieve a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  2. File Application for Graduation via myNKU during the semester prior to the one in which he/she intends to complete all degree requirements. The dates by which this document must be on file are published on the Office of Graduate Education website and Office of the University Registrar website.
  3. Satisfy all financial and administrative obligations to the University.

To be eligible for the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with nurse anesthesia specialization, the student must also:

  1. Satisfactory completion of minimum clinical and didactic requirements of the COA and NBCRNA.

Post-Master’s DNP Practicum

The NKU DNP program requires 1000 post baccalaureate practicum/practicum hours as mandated by American Association Colleges of Nursing (AACN).  Waivers of some hours may be considered with evidence of national certification in an area of advanced nursing practice and/or with notification from the student’s MSN program of post BSN practicum hours in MSN programs tracks such as nursing informatics, nurse leader, etc. 

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Graduate Programs