1. Section Editor(s): Newland, Jamesetta A. PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN

Article Content

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is promoted as entry level for advanced nursing practice by many professional nursing organizations. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in June 2017, there were 303 programs enrolling students across the nation, with 124 new programs in various planning stages.1 Additionally, all 50 states plus the District of Columbia had at least one DNP program. From 2015 to 2016, the number of students enrolled increased from 21,995 to 25,289 (~15%), and the number of graduates grew from 4,100 to 4,885 (~19%).

Jamesetta A. Newland... - Click to enlarge in new windowJamesetta A. Newland. Jamesetta A. Newland

Sharing our knowledge and experience

Many DNP programs focus on preparing clinical leaders or graduates who have the skills to make a difference to improve the quality of care, health outcomes for patients, and systems of care delivery. As clinical leaders, they also become clinical scholars. In April 2014, I stated in my editorial, "As a nurse, you have a professional responsibility to share your knowledge and experience with colleagues, patients, and the public. Through writing, you can disseminate clinically meaningful information, share new perspectives and experiences, facilitate evidence-based practice ...stimulate further research on a topic, and communicate an agenda."2


Featured DNP articles

This month's issue of The Nurse Practitioner journal is our special DNP issue, featuring two articles written by DNP graduates. In "Deciphering chest pain in women", Dr. Linda A. Briggs informs the reader of the differences in chest pain presentation between men and women. The article's goal is to help NPs differentiate between benign sources of chest pain and life-threatening causes that require immediate and accurate diagnosis and management for optimal patient outcome. Research has documented that cardiac disease is different in women as compared with men.


Dr. Brittany Wheatley authored "Improving dermatological screening in primary care," which reports a quality improvement project. The main goal of the project was to improve skin inspection, documentation, and skin cancer detection among primary care providers through the increased use of patient gowning. Dr. Wheatley reminds NPs that having a patient fully undress and gown during the annual exam (something basic and easy to do) is necessary for any practitioner to fully assess all areas of a patient's skin.


This simple practice makes a difference. I am still amazed when a patient asks why they need to take off their clothes for an exam. They say things like, "I never had to undress before for my annual exam" or "No one has ever asked to look at my feet." Both of our DNP articles offer evidence-based guidance to improve overall care.


What sets the DNP apart?

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who have earned DNP degrees must be able to articulate what makes a DNP-prepared APRN unique as well as demonstrate a visible change in practice prompted by their additional (advanced) leadership, knowledge, and skills. How do you inform others that you have a level of competence in the areas defined by AACN in The Essentials?3 Most NPs are well aware of the competencies: scientific underpinnings for practice, organizational and systems leadership for quality improvement, clinical scholarship, evidence-based practice, information systems and technology, healthcare policy, interprofessional collaboration, prevention and population health, and advanced nursing practice. How do you describe the DNP graduate in a quick blurb?


Of the 124 new DNP programs being developed, 58 are postbaccalaureate and 66 are postmaster's degrees. This likely means an increase in the numbers of DNP students enrolling and new graduates every year. Although DNP programs are not limited to preparing only NPs for advanced practice, NPs do represent a significant percentage of the new clinical leaders and scholars. Let others know and see your worth.


Jamesetta A. Newland, PhD, FNP-BC, FAANP, DPNAP, FAAN

Figure. No caption a... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. No caption available.

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF [email protected]




1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Fact sheet: the doctor of nursing practice (DNP). 2017. [Context Link]


2. Newland J. Celebrating DNP candidates and graduates. Nurs Pract. 2014;39(4):6. [Context Link]


3. AACN. The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Washington, DC; 2006. [Context Link]