Advanced Practice Nursing: Understanding the DNP
Kristene Diggins
Kathy Schoonover-Shoffner

Journal of Christian Nursing
December 2012 
Volume 29  Number 4
Pages 202 - 203
  PDF Version Available!

In 2004 the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the organization that promotes quality standards in nursing education and represents more than 690 member schools, released a position statement on the practice doctorate in nursing. The AACN proposed that the Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) be the minimal entry-level requirement for advanced practice nursing (APN). This includes roles currently prepared at the master's level-clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, nurse practitioner (NP), and any future-defined advanced practice roles. The DNP position statement was approved by the AACN member schools (AACN, 2004).The DNP position statement was driven by information such as the Institute of Medicine report (IOM, 1999), To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System, that reviewed facts surrounding errors in healthcare. One fact that contributes to error is the fragmented nature of the healthcare delivery system. In a subsequent publication, Crossing the Quality Chasm, the IOM (2001) stressed the healthcare system does not use resources wisely. According to the IOM, nurses' advanced practice roles encompass ever-expanding patient-care services, resulting in an increased knowledge base for clinical skills in leadership in the delivery of healthcare. Within this framework, the DNP was born.The full impact of the DNP position statement will hit in 2015 when every new entry-level APN must have a DNP. Masters programs will no longer be the standard for advanced practice. Current master's level APNs are being encouraged but not required to obtain the DNP. What does the DNP offer that the master's degree does not offer? How does the DNP differ from the traditional Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing? What do DNP's do?The first thing to clarify is that the DNP is a practice doctorate. Many healthcare professions prepare entry-level practitioners with a practice doctorate including pharmacy (PharmD), physical therapy (DPT), occupational

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