Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Dakota

Nurse practitioners are important for ensuring healthcare access for North Dakota residents. They help them manage — and in some cases, prevent – illness. The University of North Dakota notes that they make a significant contribution to primary care delivery within the state. Most nurse practitioners have training that prepares them to deliver primary care, though the services they actually perform will depend on setting. A majority hold prescriptive privilege – this means they can write prescriptions.

A nurse practitioner is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, or APRN. It is the most common APRN role. In fact, nurse practitioners accounted for 830 of the state’s 1,279 APRNs in a recent license count, according to a 2016 report published by the North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Association ( Notably, seven of the state’s licensees boasted dual credentials (as NP and either clinical nurse specialist or nurse midwife).

Nurse practitioners have varying population foci. Family nurse practitioner is the largest category by no small amount; nearly four out of five of those practicing in North Dakota reported it as their specialty. The remaining NPs were distributed in the following six specialties: adult, gerontology, women’s health, mental health, pediatrics, and neonatal. Gerontology and adult practice are now combined into one category for education and certification purposes; nurse practitioners who go this route can work with patients as young as adolescent. Combined adult and gerontology practice areas represented a little less than 10% at the time of the report.

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Nurse Practitioner Programs in North Dakota

#1: North Dakota State University offers a nationally ranked DNP program. NDSU consistently sees 100% of its graduates pass their certification examination.

#2: The University of North Dakota offers several tracks, with an option of credentialing after earning a degree at the master’s level.

#3: The University of Mary represents yet another option for those seeking a CCNE-accredited nurse practitioner DNP. The school notes that there is an infusion of Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values – and that they’ve been educating nurse practitioners for more than a quarter of a century.

Educational Foundations

Nurse practitioner training builds on professional nursing education. North Dakota programs must be Board-approved. North Dakota has three approved in-state programs, all of which hold accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE. CCNE-accredited programs include core graduate level nursing coursework, core advanced practice coursework, and coursework in the specialty. They require a minimum of 500 clinical hours.

The North Dakota Board has also approved well over twenty distance programs located in other states ( A program that has been approved can place students in North Dakota facilities for clinical preceptorship. The Board has published approval guidelines for online Nurse Practitioner programs (

Most North Dakota programs have transitioned or are transitioning to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as per recommendation of national stakeholders. A DNP program includes a dissertation or other substantive project. The following are among the dissertation topics that have been pursued by students at North Dakota State University: rural healthcare disaster preparedness, bipolar screening in primary care, hearing loss screening for rural farmers, enhancement of the nurse practitioner primary care orientation process, and emergency care education for advanced practitioners at critical access hospitals. BSN to DNP students can expect to put in at least 1,000 clinical hours.

In 2018, the University of North Dakota is still advertising its psychiatric mental health program at the master’s level. The adult-gerontology and family practitioner programs have transitioned to the doctoral level but with the opportunity to earn a master’s — and certification — along the way. Their FNP doctoral program is 91 units with master’s conferral after 57 units; the adult-gerontology program is very slightly shorter.

There are many schools around the nation that do have nurse practitioner programs at the master’s level.

Programs prepare their graduate for third party certification.

50% of North Dakota’s licensed nurse practitioners graduated from North Dakota programs; according to a 2017 workforce report.

(More Details: North Dakota Nurse Practitioner)

North Dakota Nurse Practitioner Employment

According to the NDNPA, almost 70% worked in Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot; a little over 31% were in more rural areas. Psychiatric nurse practitioners – a small percentage to begin with – were found mainly in the four big cities.

Positions are varied. The University of North Dakota has analyzed job ads from October 2016. Positions were almost evenly split between those considered primary care and those considered specialty.

Most of the advertised openings were in the state’s urban areas. The report noted, however, that some positions in rural areas may not be advertised due to advertising costs and a lower chance of the position actually being filled.

Historically, the nurse practitioner role came into being largely to meet the needs of rural communities. This remains a focus — and an area of promise. The University of North Dakota report notes that nationwide nurse practitioners are more likely to work in rural areas than are other healthcare providers and that they are even more likely to do so if they live in a full practice state. This means that while North Dakota’s nurse practitioner workforce may not be doing all it could to offset shortages in other areas, it’s playing an important part. Among the report’s conclusions: that the state government and individual facility directors should take steps to make this happen. The report makes some recommendations for state leaders (providing incentives for nurses in rural areas to obtain nurse practitioner education and establishing primary care models that effectively meet the needs of rural areas).

North Dakota is classified as a full practice state by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. This is a big positive, but as the UND notes, there is more at play in determining whether they are utilized to full advantage. The authors acknowledge that urban is the preferred lifestyle for some nurse practitioners. One of the take-away messages: nurse practitioners have value wherever in the state they choose to go!

North Dakota nurse practitioners had average earnings of $49.75 or $103,470 in 2017.

The actual number practicing in the state is lower than the license count; 166 noted that they were employed in other states.

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