Time for the DNP

Time for the DNP

Whether you are considering becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) or already a practicing NP, then you should highly consider taking the next step obtain your Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP. You may be thinking to yourself why would I want to spend an extra year or two in school ? Pay additional tuition and fees when I can enroll in a two-year master’s degree program and still be able to sit for your NP boards and then practice? Or if your are already an NP why go back to school? Good questions, I have been thinking the same things and wondering what will the DNP really do for me? Will the DNP provide more clinical hours? Will it allow me to specialize? What is the real benefit?

To understand the why of pursuing a DNP it will be helpful to know the background of why the DNP was created. Back in 2001, the Institutes of Medicine (IOM)  published a groundbreaking report;  Crossing the Quality Chasm which expounded the need to focus on translational research, teamwork, and technology across healthcare disciplines to include nursing.  

The healthcare landscape is becoming more complex, information and technology capabilities are doubling at record rates, and it is critical that we as a nursing profession are prepared to manage and incorporate these changes into practice for the benefit of our patients and society.  In turn, the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) moved to create the DNP to meet the need to focus on the IOM’s recommendations for these new challenges.  

Now that you have some background information, here are a few reasons why the DNP can benefit you, your patients and the profession of nursing.

  1. The DNP curriculum meets the recommendations of the IOM which includes evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, among other key areas to meet the demands of our complex healthcare environment.
  2. Currently Master’s degree NP programs are requiring a credit loads that are almost equivalent to other discipline’s doctorate degrees, so why not go for the DNP, which is a terminal degree for nursing. We also need to have an equal footing and equality at the table with other doctorally prepared disciplines (Medicine (MD), Dentistry (DDS), Pharmacy (PharmD), Psychology (PsyD), Physical Therapy (DPT), and Audiology (AudD). 
  3. In 2015 the National Academy of Sciences IOM Report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health also called for nursing to develop a non-research clinical doctorate to prepare expert practitioners who can also serve as clinical faculty. We need faculty to teach the next generation of nursing, prevent shortages, and meet future demands of the healthcare landscape.
  4. We need better prepared nursing leaders, who can lead and participate in healthcare reform, be full partners on the health care team, and to advocate for policy change.
  5. We need DNP prepared Advanced Practice Nurse’s to include our Clinical Nurse Specialist colleagues to fully implement the science developed by our PhD nurse researchers. 
  6. Over 300 DNP programs are currently enrolling students at schools of nursing nationwide in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

What is the difference between the DNP and PhD? 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) latest white paper, Report from the Task Force on the Implementation of the DNP. PhD’s are“ research-focused graduates and are prepared to generate knowledge through rigorous research and statistical methodologies that may be broadly applicable or generalizable”. DNP’s are “ practice-focused graduates and are prepared to generate new  knowledge through innovation of practice change, the translation of evidence, and the implementation of quality improvement processes in specific practice settings, systems, or with specific populations to improve health or health outcomes”.

As you can see we are making progress and there is a very strong argument for the DNP. I personally believe the DNP is a very valuable step forward, but sometimes misunderstood.  The DNP is needed in the ever-changing and challenging healthcare environment. As studies begin to assess the impact of the DNP, we may see changes in curriculum, and that is a good thing. We need to evolve, adapt and become equal partners in healthcare delivery, policy and practice.  

Reference List

1.  “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, Institutes of Medicine, 5 Oct. 2015, http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2010/The-Future-of-Nursing-Leading-Change-Advancing-Health.aspx?utm_source=IOM%2BOngoing%2BEmail%2BList%2B%28Consensus%2BStudies%2Band%2BUpcoming%2BMeetings%29&utm_campaign=9a85a0f358-11_30_15_EO_ReportReleaseNursing11_25_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_5e3a5cfc5c-9a85a0f358-180315961.

2. “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, 22 Sept. 2015, http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/Reports/2001/Crossing-the-Quality-Chasm-A-New-Health-System-for-the-21st-Century.aspx.

3. “Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).” American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Doctor of Nursing Practice: Current Issues and Clarifying Recommendations Report from the Task Force on the Implementation of the DNP, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Aug. 2015, http://www.aacnnursing.org/DNP.

Additional Information: DNP Fact Sheet

Categories: DNP, Doctorate Nursing Practice, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Practitioner

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