Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): Are You In or Out?

Woman ClassWhat must happen to the nursing profession in 2015 or beyond? What could happen to your nursing career? If you belong to the baby boomer generation, you’ll probably think about how to start your retirement years. If you belong to the generation X or Y (the Millennials), then perhaps you are wondering about the DNP program which was first opened in 2001 at the University of Kentucky. Regardless of what generation you belong, it is important that you know the current developments of your chosen profession. You will not even bother to read further if you do not care about your career options right?

What happened on October 25, 2004 changed the course for the level of preparation needed for Advanced Nursing Practice. Member schools affiliated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to endorse the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing. From master’s degree, there is a move to elevate the standard requirement to practice APN roles to the doctorate-level by 2015 (AACN DNP Fact Sheet, 2013). That’s just less than 2 years away from now.

Society, science, professional development all triggered a huge paradigm shift in graduate education in nursing (AACN DNP Roadmap Taskforce Report, October 2006).  Take it from Dr. Jeanne Venhaus Stein, an Assistant Professor at California State University who completed her DNP and looks forward to a future with ongoing changes, challenges, and possibilities in nursing. She said in her journal article, “I became more aware of leaving my “comfort zone” and venturing outward into new horizons in my teaching role and my clinical practice role. I recognized how important it is to leave old traditional ways behind and stay open to new ideas and methods of doing things. I’ve learned to welcome change with a positive attitude and a smile. I feel inspired, motivated, and competent as I move forward as both a nurse educator and a clinical nurse specialist. I am enthusiastic about teaching nursing, taking further course work in the arts of nursing, and conducting ongoing research.”  What about you? Are you in or out? Let’s see what DNP is all about.

What is  DNP?

I have a vision of this role when I finally decided to take nursing in college way back April 2000 but I never knew it would be called DNP. Yes, I belong to the Generation X but my mind is more of a Millennial Brain. I never heard about DNP even if it first opened in 2001 but when I was studying my Masters in Nursing Administration, I became interested in the DNP role. I think nurses in the USA today are more fortunate because they are given easier access to this dignified nursing role compared with other nurses in the global arena.

According to AACN (2013), The National Research and Council’s report on Advancing the Nation’s Health Needs: NIH Research Training Programs (2005) supported the development of doctorate in nursing practice. It asserted the need for the nursing profession to have a “non-research focused practice doctorate” which will prepare expert practitioners to also serve as clinical faculty. Hence the Doctor of Nursing Practice is actually a doctoral education which is a non-entry level degree that is focused on nursing practice. It is a terminal degree in nursing that requires nurse licensure prior to entering the DNP program. Furthermore, it is now considered as the highest level of practice in the nursing profession (AACN DNP Roadmap Taskforce Report, October 2006).

What’s the difference between DNP and PhD?

DNP is more practice focused while PhD is more research focused.

Why should I consider DNP as a career opportunity?

We know that the academic practice is more enhanced when we base the practice on evidences from research and when the faculty shares expertise from actual experience in nursing practice. There is a collaborative relationship between these two areas if practiced by the DNP graduate, with abilities to translate academic research evidences into nursing practice. It would be amazing to have the dual role of clinician and at the same time an academician as part of the APN emerging roles in the 21st Century.

Where can I find DNP programs in the US?

Kindly see this link for the universities that are currently accepting students into Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs:


Stein, J. (2008). Becoming a doctor of nursing practice: my story. Nursing Forum, 43(1), 38-41. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6198.2008.00094.x

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2013). DNP Fact Sheet, April 2013. Retrieved on May 29, 2013, from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2013). DNP Roadmap Taskforce Report, October 2006. Retrieved on May 29, 2013, from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2013). DNP Program Schools, May 2013. Retrieved on May 29, 2013, from

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS
Freslyn Lim

About Freslyn Lim

I am a Registered Nurse currently taking my PhD in Nursing. I earned my Masters in Nursing major in Nursing Administration in March 2011 and had my clinical experience as Staff Nurse in the ICU, Pediatrics and NICU. I am presently a nurse educator/clinical instructor.

, ,