The NNP/DNP shortage: Transforming neonatal nurse practitioners into DNPs

Jana L. Pressler, Carole A. Kenner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

Neonatal nurse practitioners (NNPs) represent a high-demand specialty practice that is especially targeted for US secondary and tertiary care neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). NNPs make primary decisions about the caregiving of high-risk newborns at the time of admission, throughout hospitalization, at transfer, and at discharge that require an advanced knowledge base in neonatology as well as NICU clinical experience. NNPs prepared at the masters level are currently in very short supply, with some estimates suggesting that for each NNP who graduates, there are 80 positions open across the country. Even with the present shortage, due to the high cost of NNP education, NNP programs are diminishing and those that are remaining are not graduating a sufficient number of new NNPs each year to keep up with the demand. To add to the basic shortage problem, in 2004 the American Association of Colleges of Nursing decided that by 2015, the terminal degree for all nurse practitioners should move from the masters degree to the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree. That decision added a minimum of 12 months of full-time education to the advanced education requirements for nurse practitioners. What impact will the decision to require a DNP degree have on NNP specialty practice? Will even more NNP programs close because of faculty shortages of NNPs prepared at the DNP level? If a worse shortage occurs in the number of NNPs prepared to practice in NICUs, will physician assistants or other nonphysician clinicians who meet the need for advanced neonatal care providers replace NNPs? What steps, if any, can nursing take to ensure that NNP specialty practice is still needed and survives after supplementing the DNP requirement to NNP education?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)272-278
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2009

Keywords

  • Doctor of nursing practice
  • NNP shortage
  • Neonatal nurse practitioners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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