Nurses have the opportunity to study two different distinct doctoral programs base on philosophical studies or nursing practice. The doctorate of nursing practice aims at promoting clinical practice and advancing the roles performed by nurses in these settings. This degree is recommended for advanced practice nurses with an interest of advancing their skillsets. Care provision is the major function played by nurses. The growing need for research in nursing and utilization of innovative treatment approaches alongside the changing demographics of diseases has contributed to the demand for higher education among nurses.
History and Purpose
The first doctorate program designed specifically for nurses was based on preparing them to teach students at college levels. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommended the use of a doctorate level in nursing as the standard entry into advanced-practice registered nursing roles for nurses (Waldrop, 2015; Mancuso, Udlis, & Anbari, 2017). These recommendations were made in 2002 when the AACN Board of Directors created a team to examine the doctorate programs offered to nurse.
The results showed that 30% of the schools had met the requirements for preparing APRNs through a BSN-DNP transition program (Waldrop, 2015). The DNP is described as the terminal degree in nursing for practice-focused nurses. A curriculum in DNP emphasizes development of skills such as leadership, health policy formulation, information technology in healthcare practice, interprofessional collaboration, and the use of evidence-based practice (EBP). It focuses less on theories and research methodologies as compared to a PhD in nursing (Ketefian & Redman, 2015). Although the MSN remains the most common APRN preparatory program, more nurses are embracing DNP.
Current State of the DNP
There had been an ongoing evolution on the DNP program since 2004. The number of schools offering this course have grown tenfold within the past decade. Aside from 289 DNP programs that currently exist, arrangements for supervised practice hours in nursing practice have been set as 1000 hours for students pursuing the DNP program (Cashin, 2018). There is still an ambiguity related to benefits of PhD in nursing practice and its contribution to the shortages of nurses in the workforce. In a research on nurses perception of the DNP program, most nurses reported that they did not understand the benefits that DNP graduates would offer patient care that would differ from other nurses (Mancuso, Udlis, & Anbari, 2017).
Use of DNP in Transforming Healthcare and Solving Complex Health Problems
An assessment on the effectiveness of a doctorate program in healthcare showed that it improved the quality of primary care offered by nurses through specific definition of the roles that they were supposed to play. It also provide nurses with skills essential in evaluating the outcomes of EBP on their patients. Aside from that, DNP gives nurses confidence and skills to support research and promotion of the evidence used in EBP.
Advantages of Having a DNP and Personal Reflection
Having a DNP enables nurses to expand their opportunities in nursing leadership such as through involvement in policy development, promotes nurses use of evidence-based practice in clinical and community settings, utilization of advanced technologies in healthcare systems, and access to a wider range of skills. DNP holders make sure that they address clinical problems in systematic ways and ensure that they focus on the causes of these issues as a way of coming up with long-term solution in healthcare (Shelton, 2016). Nurses with a DNP are equipped with the vision for promoting the growth of the nursing profession and improving patient outcomes.
Although the DNP program is still faced with challenges related to its contribution in nursing, there is a need to promote educational advances among nurses. The program should be formulated well to differentiate it from an MSN. This would enables more nurses to understand its importance and contributions to the nursing field.
Cashin, A. (2018). A Scoping Review of the Progress of the Evolution of the Doctor of Nursing Practice in the USA to Inform Consideration of Future Transformation of Nurse Practitioner Education in Australia. The Australian Journal of Nursing Practice, Scholarship and Research, 25(1), 141-146. Retrieved from https://www.collegianjournal.com/article/S1322-7696(17)30037-9/fulltext.
Ketefian, S., & Redman, R. W. (2015). A Critical Examination of Developments in Nursign Doctoral Education in the United States. Revista Latino-Americana De Enfermagem, 23(3), 363-371. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547057/.
Mancuso, J. M., Udlis, K. A., & Anbari, A. B. (2017). Comments Surrounnding The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): Stress, Ambiguity, and Strain. Journal of Nurisng Education and Practice, 7(4), 76-86.
Shelton, G. (2016). Pursuing Nursing’s Terminal Clinical Degree, the DNP: The Practical Benefits. Journal of Hematology Oncology Pharmacy, 9(3) Retrieved from http://jhoponline.com/ton-issue-archive/2016-issues/may-vol-9-no-3/16765-pursuing-nursing-s-terminal-clinical-degree-the-dnp-the-practical-benefits.
Waldrop, J. (2015). Update on The Doctor of Nursing Practice 2015. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 11(3), A23-A24. Retreived from https://www.npjournal.org/article/S1555-4155(14)00932-5/fulltext.