Assignment: Independent Study

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Assignment: Independent Study

Assignment: Independent Study

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As the landscape of healthcare changes, there is an increased need for NPs to obtain further education and emerge as health- care leaders. NP students have options related to which degree to pursue, including a Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). NPs must have the ability to dis- seminate research and clinical information to improve health outcomes, leading to a better understanding of healthcare man- agement (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2015; National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties [NONPF], 2016). For these reasons, it is recommended that all NPs obtain a DNP as the entry-level educational preparation for practice (AACN, 2015; NONPF, 2016).

Several challenges face the nursing profession in providing education for nurses pursuing advanced degrees. These include the difficulty in meeting educational needs for the number of people seeking advanced nursing degrees, a national nursing faculty shortage, and a lack of available clinical placement sites and preceptors. These educational problems have the potential to create an unstable environment for future NPs (AACN, 2015; Fitzgerald, Kantrowitz-Gordon, Katz, & Hirsch, 2012).

As of 2017, the United States had 373 NP academic programs (Fang, Li, Stauffer, & Trautman, 2016) that educate NPs to care for at least one age-specific population. Subspecialty programs, such as oncology, are uncommon in graduate NP programs, and the majority of ONPs do not attend a program with a formal oncology concentration. A survey conducted by the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) reported that only 16% of NPs had com- pleted a program with a primary focus in oncology (Nevidjon et al., 2010). To that point, most NPs achieve oncology expertise by means of on-the-job training by physician or NP colleagues, or by independent study (Hollis & McMenamin, 2014).

Traditional ONP orientation typically involves an assigned preceptor who observes and mentors the clinical practice of the NP, with or without prepared classroom instruction, most

commonly over a three- to six-month period.

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