May 25, 2024  
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1 
2023-2025 Catalog Volume XXXI Ver 1

Nursing Practice (DNP)

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The overall mission of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is to prepare advanced practice nurse leaders and clinicians, who are experts in evidence-based practice to provide the highest quality health care for patients, families, communities, and populations.

Program Overview

The DNP program includes a set of core courses designed to focus on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice Essentials (2006).  The total credits hours for the DNP program varies by concentration and whether admitted post-BSN or post-MSN. Didactic courses are completed via distance education and includes asynchronous and/or synchronous formats depending on concentration using the learning management system Canvas in order to provide a quality, rigorous, and yet flexible learning experience for a diverse student body.  Online didactic courses are supplemented by lecture presentations prepared and delivered by clinicians, researchers, and academicians in the nursing profession today.  Faculty incorporate interactive online learning activities including, but not limited to, required readings, forum-based discussions, online quizzes and exams, and evidence-based reviews to develop critical thinking/reasoning and professional communication with peers and faculty. Students in the Nurse Anesthesia concentration are intermittently required to come to Knoxville for face-to-face instruction in complex lecture topics, skills, labs, and/or simulation training.

Students complete their clinical practica at various approved facilities within their home state and/or other states as required by the various specialties.  Additional immunizations (such as COVID) and or Titers may be required per clinical facility. Students who choose not to meet the requirements of clinical sites will not be able to participate in clinical experiences as a student at those sites. This includes students who have received partial vaccinations but who are not fully immunized or students awaiting action on a clinical facility exemption request, if applicable. This may seriously impact ability to progress, graduate on time, or graduate at all.

Please see the specific requirements provided for each concentration.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates completing the Doctor of Nursing Practice program will accomplish the following outcomes:

DNP Program Outcome 

AACN DNP Essentials 

1. Synthesize scientific evidence and methods to design, direct, and evaluate strategies to promote and provide effective patient-centered care. 

AACN: Essential I, III 

2. Incorporate leadership skills and inter-professional team building strategies to improve quality metrics within healthcare systems, organizations, and diverse practice settings. 

AACN: Essential II 

3. Employ information systems and technology in the delivery of transformative healthcare. 

AACN: Essential IV 

4. Advocate for evidence-based health policy to improve local, national, and/or global patient and health population outcomes. 

AACN: Essential V 

5. Utilize effective inter-professional communication and collaborative skills to facilitate improvement in population health. 

AACN: Essential VI 

6. Apply advanced levels of clinical judgment and systems thinking in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care for clinical treatment, clinical prevention, and improvement of population health. 

AACN: Essential VII, VIII 

Minimum Requirements for DNP (Post-Master’s) Admission

All applicants to the South College Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, regardless of concentration, must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completed South College application for admission;
  2. Completed admission application to the Doctor of Nursing Practice program; 
  3. Official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate work completed; and
  4. $50 application fee (online payment or payment via telephone is available).
  5. Proof of a current unencumbered Registered Nurse license or in progress of becoming licensed as a Registered Nurse as verified by Nursys ( or licensure verification system provided by individual State Board of Nursing;
    • Record of prerequisite academic success: Evidence of completion of a Master of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited institution of higher learning with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher
  6. A two-page typed personal statement of professional goals and objectives.

Any applicant that does not meet the stated admissions requirements may request a review by the Admissions, Progression, and Retention (APR) Committee for conditional admission. These reviews are completed on a case-by-case basis. The APR Committee takes many factors into consideration when reviewing these requests, including but not limited to:

  1. Applicant’s resume or curriculum vitae showing accomplishments in their profession;
  2. Amount of time that has transpired between the applicant’s undergraduate degree completion and application to South College; and/or
  3. Grade point average in graduate work at other accredited academic institutions.

* Depending on the concentration, additional admissions requirements may need to be met. Refer to the specific program concentration page for more information.

Minimum Requirements for DNP w/ Concentration in Nurse Anesthesia Admission

Applicants to the South College Doctor of Nursing Practice with concentration in Nurse Anesthesia Program (DNP NAP) must meet the following:

  1. Hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree in Nursing from a regionally accredited institution.
  2. Hold an unencumbered license as a registered nurse and/or as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in the United States (US), or its territories or protectorates. Licensure will be verified by Nursys or licensure verification system provided by individual state boards of nursing.
  3. Hold current certifications in BLS, ACLS, and PALS upon application to the DNP NAP or complete the requirements prior to program matriculation.
  4. Applicants must have been employed full-time for a minimum of one year, or its part-time equivalent (total 2080 hours), within the past two years in a critical care setting at the time of application to the South College DNP NAP.
    • During the application process, the length of critical care experience must be verified in the required letter of recommendation from a critical care supervisor.
  5. Applicants must have status as a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident.
  6. Cumulative GPA for all post-secondary work is required to be a minimum of 3.0.
    • If GPA requirement not met, applicant may appeal in writing to the Nurse Anesthesia Program Admissions Committee.
  7. Science specific courses minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is required.
    • If GPA requirement not met, applicant may appeal in writing to the Nurse Anesthesia Program Admissions Committee.
  8. Hold a current certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN).  An alternate critical care specialty certification may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  9. Submission of the following: 
    • Three letters of recommendation.
      • One must be from a current employer/critical care supervisor who can confirm the length of applicant’s experience in critical care nursing.
      • At least two of the letters must be from healthcare providers. 
    • Two occasions documented with the applicant shadowing a CRNA or an anesthesiologist. One MUST be with a CRNA. A minimum of 16 hours of shadowing time is required.
    • Current resume or CV.
    • Personal statement (600 words max) describing the applicant’s rationale in their pursuit of a practice doctorate in nurse anesthesia and possible future roles as a CRNA.
    • Criminal background and drug screening.
    • Practice Survey.
    • Employment Verification Form.
  10. Complete admissions interview.
  11. Post-interview selection by the DNP NAP Admissions Committee.
  12. Completion of all pre-matriculation requirements.

Functional Capacities (Technical Standards)

Prospective students must demonstrate the following functional capacities. Prospective students who believe that they will not be able to meet one or more of these requirements without accommodation or modification must notify the Dean/Associate Dean of the School of Nursing, and a determination will be made on a case-by-case basis whether reasonable accommodation may be made. In no instance will an accommodation be made which will compromise nursing care, or that will put patients or other students at risk.

Function Requirement Examples of Tasks For
Vision Adequate to ensure safety of self and others in classroom and clinical settings. Patient assessment; response to treatment; medication preparation and administration; reading of patient charts and physician orders.
Hearing Adequate to allow effective communication with patients and others in person and by electronic means, and to ensure safety of self and patients. Face-to-face communication with patients, families and the health care team; telephone consultations; heart tones; breath sounds; bowel sounds and other assessments.
Tactile Sensory Adequate to allow effective evaluation and therapeutic intervention related to nursing care, and to ensure safety of self and others in providing care. Palpation used in assessment; vital signs; medication administration, IV starts.
Gross motor strength and coordination Adequate to ensure safety of self and others in class and lab sessions and clinical activities. Patient positioning and transfer; walking, standing, bending, and/or stooping for extended periods involving patient care; moving of equipment/beds.
Fine motor strength and coordination Adequate to allow mastery of activities requiring detailed movements. Multiple skills in patient care; treatments; medication preparation and administration.
Critical thinking ability Adequate to allow mastery of basic course content and to demonstrate sound judgment in simulated and real life nursing situations. Effective use of nursing process; planning and implementation of the nursing care plan; identification of cause and effect relationship in order to modify nursing care plan; determination of unsafe situations; planning course of actions to meet needs of patient, family, community and nursing profession.
Interpersonal Skills Adequate to allow establishment of effective working and/or therapeutic relationship with patients, families and professionals. Establishing therapeutic relationship with patients and families; working with health care team; collaboration with other disciplines.
Communication Adequate to allow completion of course work and effective verbal and written communication with patients, families, communities, peers, and others. Class activities; therapeutic communication; writing/research at the bachelor’s level; documentation of patient care; education of patient/family/community.

Professional/State Licensure

Registered nurses must be licensed by the state in which they intend to practice. Licensure laws and regulations vary from state to state. In order to be admitted to the South College DNP program, applicants must provide evidence of a current unencumbered Registered Nurse license or in progress of becoming licensed as a Registered Nurse as verified by Nursys ( or licensure verification system provided by individual State Boards of Nursing. Additional licensure may be required if practicum courses are completed in a state other than the state where the student already holds licensure. 

Nurses may seek Nurse Executive board certification from The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or The American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL).  Requirements for certification include varying combinations of requirements depending upon the certification sought but generally include requirement to hold a current RN license, minimum educational level in nursing, specified time/hours of experience in nursing management/supervision, and continuing education credits if a master’s degree has not been earned.

The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) have developed nationally recognized competencies for the educational preparation of advanced practice nurses. The respective board certification examinations are competency-based examinations that provide a valid and reliable assessment of the entry-level clinical knowledge and skills for nurse practitioners. Certification aligns with the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education. Once exam-takers complete eligibility requirements to take the certification examination and successfully pass the exam, they will be awarded a nationally recognized credential, which can be maintained by continuous licensure and satisfying the specific renewal requirements in place at the time of certification renewal. The National Commission for Certifying Agencies and the Accreditation Board for Specialty Nursing Certification accredits this certification. The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners National Certification Board (AANPCB) also provides a valid and reliable program for entry-level nurse practitioners to recognize their education, knowledge and professional expertise, as well as a process for validation of an advanced practice nurse’s qualifications and knowledge for practice as a nurse practitioner. The AANPCB offers the FNP certification examination, which is an entry-level competency-based examination that tests clinical knowledge in family/individual across the life span (prenatal, pediatric, adolescent, adult, elderly, and frail elderly primary care). Licensure as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) is regulated by individual states and is overseen by State Boards of Nursing. All 50 states require graduation from a COA accredited program and a passing score on the National Certification Exam (NCE) to obtain licensure and practice as a CRNA. The NCE is administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).See the South College webpage for information regarding information for Professional/State licensure.

Graduation Requirements

Note: Depending on the concentration, additional graduation requirements may need to be met. Refer to the specific program concentration page for more information.

The student must be in a good academic and professional standing, have had satisfactory progress in all quarters of the academic program, and satisfactorily complete the following:

  1. The student normally must satisfactorily complete the course requirements in the catalog in effect when the student enrolled. However, academic programs are subject to change at the discretion of the institution. Students who leave the college may be required to meet catalog requirements at the time of their return. Deviation from any program requirements must be approved by the Chief Academic Officer.
  2. The student must earn the minimum grades designated by the program concentration in all required courses.
  3. The student must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher for all coursework taken in the DNP program.
  4. The student must complete and disseminate the DNP Scholarly Project.
  5. The student must complete the Career Services exit program and all outcomes assessment exams prior to graduation.
  6. The student must abide by all college rules and regulations and settle any financial obligations prior to graduation.
  7. Submission of a completed application for graduation to the faculty advisor no later than the first day of the quarter in which the student plans to graduate.

South College reserves the right, and the student, by the act of matriculation, concedes to give South College the right to require withdrawal at any time the college deems it necessary to safeguard the standards of scholarship, conduct, and compliance with regulations, or for such other reasons deemed appropriate by South College as set forth in the South College Student Handbook and/or the South College Catalog.


Upon successful completion of all program requirements, candidates are recommended for graduation and for the conferring of the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. South College and the School of Nursing reserve the right to make necessary program changes as impacted by accreditation standards, other state or federal mandates, or need due to faculty evaluation.

Voluntary Withdrawal

If a student finds it necessary to withdraw from the nursing program, readmission into the program cannot be guaranteed. Any student wishing to apply for readmission after voluntary withdrawal must follow the current readmission policy of the School of Nursing DNP Program and/or specifications within the relevant concentration track.

Termination from the DNP Program

Grounds for termination from the DNP program are as follows:

  1. Insufficient academic progress or clinical performance defined as failing any course;
  2. Nonpayment of fees;
  3. Failure to comply with rules and/or policies as written in the Nursing Graduate Student Handbook, the South College Student Handbook, the South College Catalog, or concentration Handbooks;
  4. Falsification of application to South College or the School of Nursing;
  5. Any violation of Academic Integrity (cheating, plagiarism, sharing exams, obtaining unauthorized digital copies of exams, etc.);
  6. Unprofessional, unsafe, or unethical behavior;
  7. Failure to meet attendance requirements;
  8. Failure to maintain compliance with clinical agency requirements which prevent the student from attending clinical;

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