Defining Research in DNP Programs: Lessons Learned

Thursday, 2 August 2012: 8:30 AM

Linda F. Samson, PhD, RN, BC, NEA, BC1
Maria A. Connolly, PhD, FCCM, CNE, ANEF2
Nancy J. MacMullen, PhD, RN3
Patricia Martin, DNP, RN3
(1)College of Health and Human Services, Governors State University, University Park, IL
(2)Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Maywood, IL
(3)Nursing, Governors State University, University Park, IL

Learning Objective 1: Explain the emerging issues related to research in advanced practice at the doctoral level with particular emphasis on translational and community-based participatory research.

Learning Objective 2: Analyze the similarities and differences between research-based and practice-based doctoral degrees.

Over the past five years the Doctor of Nursing Practice has emerged as the terminal degree for clinical nursing practice. Since the 2006 publication of the AACN Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, the number of programs offering the DNP degree has grown from 20 in 2006 to over 200 in 2011. The number of DNP programs in the US now exceeds the number of PhD programs. While this trend is not yet an international one, interest is occurring. Although there has been a great deal of discussion about what a terminal practice degree is and how it should differ from a research degree the issue of research preparation for advanced practitioners continues to present challenges because many of the DNP programs have emerged in schools with limited scholarship or research to support doctoral research degrees. This session will address two schools' efforts to build a cadre of advanced practice nurses with the capacity to engage in development of evidence-based practice and conduct translational and community-based participatory research. Both of these schools started from a common curriculum plan and have moved in slightly different directions with program implementation. However each has now conferred degrees and has learned lessons about student recruitment, foundational knowledge, and the similarities and differences between capstone projects and the traditional dissertation. Both programs build the solid foundation that supports future research efforts but do not require students to conduct original research for the degree. The clear goal remains preparing the expert practitioner and resisting the temptation to be seen as characterized in one USA educational publication as the "PhD Light".