Today nurses have an opportunity to obtain a doctoral degree, which could be either Ph.D. or a DNP. These two terminal degrees vary according to their purpose and future career path. Both of the degrees provide further development for nurses. However, DNP has a more significant impact on the healthcare practice. Firstly, DNP programs prepare nurses for actual clinical practice. Secondly, the degree provides implementation and integration of the obtained knowledge. Thirdly, the degree gives many opportunities for the advancement of the scholarship of clinical practice. The DNP degree has a greater impact on patient outcomes, quality of care, and advancement of the professions for several reasons.
The DNP degree is formulated for nurses that pursue a high level of nursing practice preparation. The doctor of Nursing Practice degree was designed for those who are engaged in the clinical practice and relevant areas, such as organizational leadership, policy, and administration, directly. Philosophy Doctor Degree in nursing, on the other hand, was developed for nurses that are seeking to focus on education and research areas. Nurse practitioners, corresponding organizations, and AACN’s membership supported the transition to the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. They highlighted the essence of the current changes in healthcare, and the challenges associated with the complexity of the healthcare system. In addition, they have mentioned the issues in front of the educators who are designing programs for nurse practitioners and related specialists.
Many health organizations emphasize that the DNP degree facilitates the practical implementation of the knowledge, which benefits patient outcomes and quality of care. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties created DNP education standards that stand as a framework for the NP role expectations. For instance, the Nurse Practitioner Roundtable proposed a consensus about the importance of NPs and, in 2008, came out with a statement on nurse DNP education. Many organizations agree with the idea that the DNP degree is more accurate in the issue of clinical competencies and provides relevant preparation corresponding to the current healthcare system. There are the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the Association of Faculties of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the National Conference of Nurse Practitioners, among those organizations. In addition, there were national calls for reforming the education of the health professions to enhance the competence of the clinicians in the question of quality, care outcomes, system change, and safety. That may be addressed by a significant reformulation of practice education. Thus, the DNP degree corresponds to the aim of newly conceptualizing education for future objectives.
The DNP degree not only represents a high level of practical preparation for nurses but simultaneously focuses on the scholarship of clinical application and integration. That means that, unlike the Ph.D. degree, DNP seeks to implement an innovative approach to the research, which could be based on pieces of evidence gathered from real practice and research findings. In this way, the provided research will be more credible, which will increase the quality of the research results.
DNP contributes to the advancement of the profession because it gives nurses the opportunity to develop as a leader and as a scholar. The nursing scholarship emphasizes clinical practice, affects policy, and influences practices for preparing leaders and scholar nurses. There is a positive trend for DNP graduates to move into the positions of leaders in different healthcare systems and collaborate with researchers. It allows nurses to construct innovative nursing science and practices. Nurses who have obtained a DNP degree are prepared for the highest role in practice nursing with a focus on organizational aspects of the healthcare system. In the healthcare system, DNP-prepared nurse practitioners often have dual roles, which means that they are practicing in more than one system to broaden the impact on the patient and system outcomes. DNP-prepared nurses could be involved in research since they have a deep understanding of the concepts in many different organizational systems and implementation science.
With the DNP degree preparation, nurses are able to assess complex issues of the patients and the whole healthcare system. Nurses who have a DNP preparation also assume roles that focus on public health and quality improvement spheres. For instance, DNP-prepared nurses today hold such roles as quality improvement director, evidence-based practice director, and chief information officer (Trautman et al., 2018). Thus, the nurses who hold DNP degrees have many opportunities for the advancement of the profession.
Emphasizing the care quality, safety, and satisfaction of the patient is the key objective of the healthcare environment. Hence, the healthcare leaders that influence this environment should be adaptive and keep patients as their primary goal, paying attention to management and innovation. Next, pursuing quality care for patients, excellence of service, and adjustable care costs might represent challenges for traditional healthcare systems. That is why a DNP degree prepares executive leader nurses for not only healthcare systems but other areas as well. The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree educates nurses in such key areas as service, improvement, process assessment, and quality. It makes nurses being able to solve the issues concerning healthcare challenges and the transformation of the healthcare environment.
DNP-educated nurses are prepared to redesign, disseminate, and evaluate the quality improvement results. The degree focuses on improvement projects for safety promotion and effective care centered on the patient. A nurse with a DNP degree obtains the skills required to explore clinical problems, simultaneously applying the research data when forming solutions. This ability is highly important for nurse leaders in the current healthcare climate. Changing the healthcare system puts emphasis on clinical complications, errors, and hospital-acquired conditions.
The DNP graduate also acquires knowledge and skills in using information technology in planning, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based practice. It is important for organizing and improving disease-specific databases, which facilitates the improvement of the quality and measurement of the outcomes. The DNP degree prepares the graduates to promote the purchase and usage of IT and new technologies for inducing high-quality healthcare.
In conclusion, the DNP degree is more relevant for those nurses who seek to implement and integrate their knowledge and skills in practice. This is important for the improvement of the quality of care, impact on patient outcomes, and an opportunity for professional advancement. DNP programs focus on practice more than Ph.D. programs, which primarily focus on research. DNP degree is designed specifically for nurses who will become practitioners, leaders, and scholars. That is why this degree better suits those nurses who plan to implement and integrate obtained knowledge and skills for influencing the healthcare system.
Trautman, D. E., Idzik, S., Hammersla, M., & Rosseter, R. (2018). Advancing scholarship through translational research: The role of PhD and DNP prepared nurses. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 23(2). Web.