Difference between a PhD in Nursing and a DNP

Difference between a PhD in Nursing and a DNP

The current shortage of nurses has increased the demand for nurses who have terminal degrees. This has seen many nurse trainees enrolling for doctoral studies. The main terminal degrees in nursing are the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). While DNP is concerned with the advancement of learners’ clinical practice, PhD emphasizes on the improvement of their research skills. This paper discusses the difference between the two programs. It also discusses my choice of one of the degrees, and gives an explanation for the choice.

DNP

DNP is a degree intended for nurse practitioners seeking to advance their clinical practice (McWhirter, 2021).  It aims at equipping nurse trainees with important clinical skills that can enable them to provide quality care services, and evaluate patient outcomes of specific populations.  DNP also focuses on molding nurse leaders who are able to use research evidence in improving standards of care, and care systems (AACN, 2020; Moskowitz, 2021). Such leaders can also play an important role in leading interdisciplinary teams. The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) recommended the DNP to become a terminal nursing degree in the year 2015. It replaced the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as the minimum requirement for nurses embracing advanced practice. To join a DNP program, experience is not a pre-requisite (Campaign for Action, n.d.). As a result, many nursing programs have incorporated the degree into the contents of their curriculum. This has led to a significant increase of the number of nurses pursuing DNP. A standard DNP program usually takes 1 to 3 years. At the end of the program, learners are required to complete a capstone project (Moskowitz, 2021). The goal of the project is to contribute to the improvement of clinical practice.

PhD

On its part, PhD in nursing is a degree that focuses on research work (AACN, n.d). Its main purpose is to equip nursing students with scientific nursing knowledge. PhD graduates are normally given the responsibility of leading various research teams (AACN, n.d.; McWhirter, 2021). For instance, they design and conduct various studies whose purpose is to address the effect of diseases, and improve systems of care. In these studies, the graduates help nurses in interpretation of scientific theory, evaluation of statistics, and analysis of data. Apart from involvement in research, the PhD holders work in different academic settings (AACN, n.d.). They teach students, and play an important role in developing research based educational programs. It is for this reason that many PhD programs prefer enrolling trainees who have some teaching experience (Campaign for Action, n.d.). This is unlike DNP programs that emphasize more on clinical experience than on the experience of teaching. A PhD program often takes between 4 to 5 years. At the end, students are asked to submit a research dissertation (Moskowitz, 2021). They are supposed to defend the work.

My Choice and Why

As a nurse trainee, I intend to continue with my education up to the doctoral level. If I reach there, I will choose to pursue a DNP since I have the desire to serve as a clinician. In the next five to ten years, I want to see myself in a nursing leadership role. I feel that a DNP will be the best choice for me since it will help me to acquire important leadership skills (Moskowitz, 2021). I aspire to become an influential nurse leader who can make a meaningful contribution to care standards and the health care system in general.

References:

AACN. (2020). DNP Fact Sheet. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/DNP-Fact-Sheet

AACN. (n.d.). Phd in Nursing. Retrieved from https://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Research-Data-Center/PhD

Campaign for Action. (n.d.). Transforming Nursing Education. Retrieved from https://campaignforaction.org/issue/transforming-nursing-education/

McWhirter, K. (2021). Types of Nursing Degrees and Levels. Nurse Journal. Retrieved from https://nursejournal.org/degrees/types-of-nursing-degrees/

Moskowitz, K. (2021). The Difference Between a DNP and a PhD in Nursing? Retrieved from https://www.nursingce.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-dnp-and-a-phd-in-nursing/

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