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Become a Nurse Leader

Distinguish yourself as a DNP nurse leader. Influence health care systems at an executive level, direct and inform decision-making, and transform models of care. We develop health care executives and leaders that create change throughout the Intermountain West.


The Post-MS to DNP specialty track is geared toward the master's prepared nurse, including practicing APRNs, and those with business, health administration, care management, education, and informatics masters. The College of Nursing offers two pathways in the Post MS to DNP Specialty Track: Direct Care Pathway and Organizational Leadership Pathway. Direct Care Pathway is designed for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) seeking a DNP degree. The Organizational Leadership Pathway is designed for nurse leaders in management, population/public health, nursing education, quality improvement, patient safety, and system-level leadership positions seeking the DNP degree.

This specialty track in our DNP program will cover vital topics for today's nurse clinical and administrative leaders, including project planning, facilitating change, budgeting, systems-level planning, and quality improvement efforts.

The DNP degree furthers the student's focus on leadership roles, with a particular emphasis on translational methods in evidence-based practice to drive innovation in individual patient and population health and healthcare organizations and systems. Students demonstrate their newly acquired expertise by integrating the coursework into a final DNP Scholarly Project.

  • Students take courses based on the DNP essentials and electives are chosen based on a student's previous education, experience, and specialty interests.
  • Minimum of 36 credit hours in coursework, including a minimum of 3 elective credits.
  • Full-time (completed in 5 semesters) or part-time (one additional year) programs of study available.
  • Courses are taught in executive and online formats each semester. The executive format requires the student to attend class by video conference 4-5 times over the semester. On-campus attendance is not required.

Direct Care Pathway (for APRNs)

  • Identify trends in practice to improve patient outcomes
  • Analyze and apply evidence to make improvements in patient care populations
  • Identify potential system changes to improve care for patient populations
  • Facilitate quality improvement projects to improve patient care
  • Understand finance and business principles for clinical providers

Organizational Leadership Pathway (for APRNs/non-APRNs)

  • Summarize critical processes used in program planning
  • Apply organizational and systems leadership skills to eliminate health disparities and promote patient safety
  • Project the impact of regulatory, government, and policy change on health care finance, reimburse, and delivery
  • Analyze and predict strategies to positively influence system outcomes.
  • Identify need for program development based on regulatory mandates, market demands, and system-level outcomes

"The knowledge I gained during the MS to DNP Organizational Leadership DNP program helped me to develop systems-level thinking, which is ideal when leading in large health care systems and academic medical centers. I gained a greater awareness of the social determinants of health, and the importance of advocating for improved health outcomes for marginalized groups—helping me become a better-informed nurse leader and inspiring me to take my leadership to the next level."

-Rita Aguilar, DNP, MBA, RNC, NEA-BC, Senior Nursing Director at University of Utah Health