DOCTORAL NURSING PROGRAMS: Advancing Nursing Perspective
Nursing as a science has its goal of developing a body of knowledge to be used as basis for nursing practice in a variety of settings. Nursing knowledge, however, is not isolated or exclusive, but rather encompasses the selection, integration, and expansion of knowledge from nursing and other disciplines and the application of this knowledge to the understanding of health and illness and to the analysis and improvement of nursing practice. This premise coveys the necessity of advancing nursing knowledge and practice through higher level of education and experience, from Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), and eventually a doctoral degree in nursing.
While there are different program and title offerings, it is a fact that doctoral study in nursing is built upon and expands the doctoral student’s knowledge acquired in baccalaureate and master’s degree programs in nursing. Doctoral nursing programs are based on nursing’s distinct body of knowledge, which can and must be verified using methods of scholarly inquiry — research. This prepares intellectual leaders with analytical skills to contribute to the development of nursing science. Students bring to doctoral study unique combinations of experiences, knowledge and capabilities that help facilitate an emphasizes on the interchange among clinical practice, research, and teaching based on the belief that research informs practice, practice informs research and both inform teaching. To pursue this, one may choose from the following doctoral nursing programs:
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN NURSING (PhD)
The term philosophy in Greek literally means “love of wisdom”. From this, it can be gleaned that a nurse with this degree has a love for wisdom in nursing and focuses on fundamental and general aspects. The PhD in Nursing program prepares nurse scholars in the development and conduct of scientific research or inquiry that advances the theoretical foundation of nursing practice and shaping the healthcare delivery. Key competencies or outcomes after completion of the program include knowledge and skills in theoretical, methodological, and analytic approaches to the discovery and application of knowledge in nursing and healthcare. The program is designed to prepare nurses for careers as research scientists, often in academic or governmental positions.
DOCTOR OF NURSING PRACTICE (DNP)
Preparation of nurse leaders’ capacities for evidence-based patient care and executive roles is the main thrust of the DNP program. As a clinical practice-oriented development program, it has emerged in recent times as the preferred advanced degree for nurse executives and is the highest degree a nurse can be conferred without getting PhD. It gears toward the development of competence in translating research into practice, evaluating evidence, applying research in decision-making, and implementing viable clinical and organizational innovations to change practice. After completion of the program, DNP graduates shall have gained knowledge and skills in applying and translating research into practice; and leads dissemination and integration of new knowledge in healthcare organizations. These sets forth the hallmark of DNP from other doctoral nursing programs. The program is also designed to hone nurses at the highest level of nursing practice to become experts in managing the complexity between quality of care, accessibility, and fiscal responsibilities.
DOCTOR OF NURSING SCIENCE (DNSc)
Comparable with PhD in Nursing and DNP, the degree Doctor of Nursing Science is also a professional degree. Nurses who display ability to make an original contribution of scholarship in nursing are conferred with this degree with focus on health outcomes measurement, health care economics, statistical analysis and informatics among others. The DNSc program is geared to the preparation of the next generation of scholars, nurse educators, and clinical scientists with investigative skills of a researcher, and clinical and leadership skills necessary to influence and shape the health care system. Research skills places strong emphasis on the science of clinical nursing practice and its relationship to health systems research and policy initiative and development. With this focus, it provides graduates with a sound foundation to participate in future scholarships and education that are clinically significant to improve the health care of clients at all levels. DNSc graduates accomplish this end through the evaluation forces that influence health, synthesis of knowledge of health needs and problems of select patient/client groups, examination of knowledge and application of findings to nursing practice, education, and policy. Despite this, critics and a number of references cite DNSc as similar to that of DNP in terms of focus.
Doctor of nursing programs are offered on a residency (face-to-face) or online (distance learning) basis. The duration of the program on the average is 3 to 5 years on full-time study and is highly dependent on the focus area of the program developed by the school of nursing. In order to qualify for admission for doctor of nursing programs, the following basic requirements must be met, although this may vary by school:
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree
- Current license to practice
- Significant clinical experience
- Managerial or leadership position/ role
- Research interest
The main purpose of all doctoral programs is to educate qualified nurses to create dynamic contributions to the discipline of nursing through research and other scholarly activities. It is also important to understand that the ongoing advancement of nursing science is crucial to the delivery of safe, high-quality, holistic, and cost-effective health care.