During the fall of 2016, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission retained Tripp Umbach to conduct a detailed market assessment and feasibility analysis to evaluate the capacity for additional Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs in the State of Tennessee. Tripp Umbach’s work product included market analysis to assess the demand for expanded DNP programs, staffing plans, recommended organizational structure, and financial analysis as required for the program and any proposed facility. To ensure a final outcome that could be assessed using both qualitative and quantitative data, Tripp Umbach based final recommendations upon the following three criteria:
• National and local demand for DNP-related nursing programs that provide graduates with sustainable earnings to cover debt load.
• National and State supply of health-related programs that provide graduates with sustainable earnings to cover debt load.
• Capability for the State of Tennessee to develop high quality sustainable Doctor of Nursing Practice degree educational programs in areas that have high market demand and high wages for graduates.

Based upon the study findings, Tripp Umbach did not believe that the State of Tennessee had the market opportunity to accommodate instruction in additional DNP programs at that current time. Tripp Umbach recommended that the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), in conjunction with the appropriate higher education institutions, should instead focus on strengthening its current offering of DNP programs throughout the State. THEC should also conduct an assessment of existing DNP program capacity and establish a state-wide advisory board to provide guidance for nursing and DNP programs on topics such as clinical site placements, the faculty shortage epidemic, and issues related to student retention. Additionally, the board should address issues relating to diversity of DNP programs in the State in terms of race and gender.

Guided by the Public Agenda for Tennessee Higher Education, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) oversees an array of finance, academic, research and consumer protection initiatives that promote student success and support the State’s completion agenda for postsecondary education. THEC actively seeks to develop policy recommendations, programmatic initiatives, and partnerships that increase educational attainment in the state while improving higher education access and success for all Tennesseans.