Doctor of Nursing Practice
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2010)|
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal professional degree in nursing practice, an alternative to the research focused doctoral degree. The curriculum for the DNP degree builds on traditional master's programs by providing education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership. Furthermore, the DNP is intended to be a parity degree with other health care doctorates such as psychology, medicine, and dentistry. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) include the nurse practitioner (NP), certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), certified nurse midwife (CNM), and the clinical nurse specialist (CNS) and are prepared in master's-degree programs that often carry a credit load equivalent to doctoral degrees in the other health professions. Although approximately 52% of nurse anesthetist programs will award the DNP, the remaining 48% may use the title Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP).
Education requirements in the United States
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), transitioning advance practice registered nursing programs from the graduate level to the doctoral level is a "...response to changes in health care delivery and emerging health care needs, additional knowledge or content areas have been identified by practicing nurses. In addition, the knowledge required to provide leadership in the discipline of nursing is so complex and rapidly changing that additional or doctoral level education is needed." According to the AACN, "...benefits of practice-focused doctoral programs include:
- development of needed advanced competencies for increasingly complex clinical, faculty and leadership roles;
- enhanced knowledge to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes;
- enhanced leadership skills to strengthen practice and health care delivery;
- better match of program requirements and credits and time with the credential earned;
- provision of an advanced educational credential for those who require advanced practice knowledge but do not need or want a strong research focus (e.g. clinical faculty);
- parity with other health professions, most of which have a doctorate as the credential required for practice;
- enhanced ability to attract individuals to nursing from non-nursing backgrounds;
- increased supply of faculty for clinical instruction; and
- improved image of nursing."
Transitioning toward the doctorate
The AACN recommends that all entry-level nurse practitioner educational programs be transitioned from the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to the DNP degree by the year 2015. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists has followed suit, requiring the DNP (or DNAP-Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice) degree for entry-level nurse anesthetist programs by the year 2025. Meanwhile, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) announced in July 2015 its endorsement of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) as the required degree for CNS entry into practice by 2030. Nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists currently practicing with either an MSN or certificate will not be required to obtain the DNP for continued practice.
In the United States there are two terminal doctorate degrees in the field of nursing: The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Previous doctorate level degrees have been, or are in the process of being, phased out and converted to one of the two terminal degrees. The Doctor of Nursing (ND, not to be confused with Naturopathic Doctor ND) and the (DrNP) have transitioned into the DNP whereas the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc, DNS or DSN) has transitioned into the PhD. The PhD in nursing is generally considered the academic and research-oriented degree, whereas the DNP is the practice-oriented or professional terminal degree.
Title Controversy in the United States
Currently there is an interdesciplinary controversy over the use of the salutation or title “Doctor” being used within the clinical setting by holders of the DNP. Although MDs, DOs, DDSs, DPMs, ODs, DCs and DNPs all nominally hold a terminal doctorate degree, in a medical setting the term "doctor" has referred to Doctors of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), Dentists (DDS or DMD), Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (D.P.M.), Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) and Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) but not to Nurse Practitioners (NP), who until recently did not hold doctorate degrees.
As of 2014, several states specifically prohibit DNP's from using the title "Doctor" with their patients in a clinical setting (Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Oklahoma), while four more states simply require them to clarify that they are not physicians (New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Virginia).
- Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Midwife, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Nurse anesthetist
- Diploma in Nursing
- Associate of Science in Nursing
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
- Master of Science in Nursing
- Nursing leader
- Nurse education
- Nursing school
- "American Association of Colleges of Nursing | DNP Fact Sheet". www.aacn.nche.edu. Retrieved 2015-09-19.
- http://nann.org/pdf/DNPEntry.pdf DNP as parity with medicine
- Report of the Task Force on the Clinical Doctorate
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2004). AACN Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing. Available at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/pdf/DNP.pdf.
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (2007). AANA Position on Doctoral Preparation of Nurse Anesthetists. Available at http://www.aana.com/uploadedFiles/Members/Membership/Resources/dtf_posstatemt0707.pdf