Interweaving Policy Through a Doctor of Nursing Practice Curriculum

Burson, Rosanne, Katherine Moran, Grace Jacek, and Pat Rouen

The University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program provides the elements necessary for students to achieve the competencies for health care policy for advocacy in health care (DNP Essential V). The curriculum is viewed as a whole, rather than a group of courses to meet an end. The competencies are interwoven through multiple courses in the curriculum.

An initial health policy course sets the stage by igniting an understanding of the critical nature of policy involvement and instilling a passion to make a difference. The course develops skills in analysis and writing from a policy perspective, and provides practicum hours in the field advocating and demonstrating leadership. Observation of the legislative process by attending hearings and meeting legislators is instrumental in facilitating the students’ comfort level to become active in the process and develops the student experience around efficacy and advocacy.  

In the Leadership course students integrate this knowledge and analyze health systems and outcomes of health care delivery systems, while in the Population Health course students use the skills learned to engage members of a community to complete a comprehensive population needs assessment utilizing a systems-based approach. The final practicum course further solidifies this journey by having the student identify goals and objectives. 

Many students choose to further develop their policy acumen by including aspects of legislation in the practicum. One such student focused an entire practicum (240 hours) in the policy arena, including reimbursement and practice models, mentoring with the leader of the state Nurse Practitioner group. Her DNP project is focusing on coalition building to achieve strength in the push toward full practice authority in the state. This example highlights how one DNP program was able to successfully build health care policy competency throughout the curriculum.