The Value of the DNP (Doctorate of Nursing Practice) in Nursing Education

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Cari S. Simpson, DNP, MSN, BA, RN, CNE
Pre-Licensure Online Education Team, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Greensburg, PA, USA
Diane A. Anderson, DNP, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE
Pre-Licensure Online Education Team, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Irwin, PA, USA

The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a newer degree endorsed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) in 2004 as the practice doctorate degree.  There continues to be confusion as to the benefits of the DNP in academia.  The counterpart PhD focuses on research based strategies and is the chosen degree for tenure in university settings.  Controversy surrounding “academic rigor” of the DNP presents a barrier for not offering tenure to DNP prepared faculty. Unfortunately, there have been negative viewpoints that ultimately impact the tenure potential for the DNP prepared nurse educator in an academic setting.

Many university settings don’t consider the DNP candidate for classroom instruction; however, the rationale for this practice is not clearly defined.  It is advantageous for both the PhD and DNP to collaborate in the classroom setting, sharing both clinical and research experiences, which will aid in strengthening the nursing profession overall. This has resulted some conflict with regard to the value of the DNP in the academic setting, and also a lack of support in the evidence that is necessary to demonstrate the credibility of the DNP degree. It is necessary to demonstrate credibility of the DNP degree and to debunk preconceived impressions by doctoral prepared colleagues.

The contributions of the DNP prepared nursed educator cannot be overlooked, regardless of whether they are being considered for research based publications, or for tenure track. Graduates of either a PhD or DNP programs have not specifically prepared for a faculty teaching role, and upon graduation both still require mentoring and preparation in teaching methodologies, program development, and curriculum design.

Exploring the value of the DNP degree in nursing education, and how it compliments other terminal nursing degrees must be explored, and ultimately the best of what each has to offer for the benefit and success of nursing students and the profession of nursing.