DNP stands for Doctor of Nursing Practice. Whereas the Doctor of Nursing Philosophy (PhD) is research-oriented, the DNP is a practice doctorate degree where graduates use research to influence their practice. Doctor of Nursing Practice programs address the critical analytic skills needed to translate evidence-based care into practice, in order to improve systems of care, and to measure outcomes of groups of patients, populations, and communities.
What is a DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice Program?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced degree that focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing to help prepare students to pursue careers as an advanced nurse provider—such as a nurse practitioner. As such, coursework may focus on areas such as leadership, systems management, quality improvement and advanced practice, diagnoses and treatment.
In order to earn your DNP, you must have already earned your MSN—or alternatively you may be able to enroll in an RN to MSN to DNP bridge program to condense your studies[i]. Often, nursing students search for BSN to DNP Programs as well, so finding a doctorate in nursing program should be based, in large part, on what your present education level is.
In general, Doctor of Nursing Practice programs take nursing theory and science to the next level. This may involve things like examining current theoretical foundations of healthcare practice; designing and evaluating clinical solutions; organizational leadership; and implementing strategies for improved patient outcomes. There is typically a capstone requirement for completion of the degree.
Why earn a Doctorate of Nursing Practice DNP Degree?
So what are the potential benefits of earning your Doctorate of Nursing Practice? In 2004, American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) officially called to make the doctor of nursing practice the new standard for practice—replacing the MSN—by 2015. The AACN made this endorsement after performing close to three years of research through a task force with the goal of examining the need for an evidence-based practice doctorate[ii].