Leading in Education, Practice and Research: DNP and PhD Teams

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Elizabeth A. Carlson, PhD, RN
College of Nursing, Rush University, Chicago, IL, USA

It is incumbent on educators to create synergy and collaboration among the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and PhD scholars. Collaboration among doctoral-prepared nurses is important because of the: 1) rapid growth of DNP programs and graduates, 2) ability for shared resources, and 3) opportunities for research and scholarship. Furthermore, the rapidly evolving healthcare environment requires strong leaders that can collaborate to drive changes to improve quality, access, costs, and address the needs of the public.  However, at this point collaborative efforts are in an infancy stage with few reportable outcomes cited in the literature. In accordance with the Institute of Medicine recommendations and essentials put forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, collaborative relationships between DNP and PhD-prepared nurses are developing. Therefore, a comprehensive review of challenges and benefits of collaborative efforts may influence strategies to promote mutual goal setting and scholarship. Importantly, collaboration offers a synergistic approach for knowledge generation and transformation to clinical practice.

            One area to promote doctoral collaboration is through education. Doctoral curricula are reformulating to facilitate intraprofessional education and practice by offering DNP and PhD combined courses. Such opportunities can strengthen partnerships among students that will transcend into practice, research, and scholarly endeavors. Given the expansion of doctoral programs, both DNP and PhD-prepared graduates need to collaborate to meet the needs of the public, especially since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Offering combined courses for DNP and PhD students provides students opportunities to learn from one another and gain insight into varying perspectives. This can also be a benefit for the educational organization as it reduces overhead cost by eliminating redundancy and maximizing faculty expertise. Using the divergent perspectives and frameworks of DNP and PhD prepared nurses, along with their respective skills and expertise provides opportunities and resources to advance clinical and translational research. For example, DNP and PhD prepared nurses collaborated on an initiative to improve the cardiovascular health of underserved populations among older adults in the community. This combined effort resulted in an improvement in clinical outcomes and scholarly dissemination which serves as a positive example of DNP-PhD collaborative efforts.  Collaboration at all levels is the hallmark for nursing to lead diverse teams, promote synergy, and redesign complex systems to improve patient outcomes.