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  1. Bowie, Bonnie H. PhD, MBA, RN
  2. DeSocio, Janiece PhD, RN, PMHNP-BC, FAAN
  3. Swanson, Kristen M. PhD, RN, FAAN


OBJECTIVE: This study addressed how recently graduated doctor of nursing practice (DNP) nurses describe their current practice, how their supervisors describe the DNP's current practice, and whether nurse and supervisor descriptions of the practices reflect the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) DNP Essentials and, if so, how?


BACKGROUND: Introduced in 2004, the goal of DNP programs was to educate advanced practice RNs for effective leadership in complex healthcare environments. The value of the DNP degree for nurses in healthcare systems is evolving.


METHODS: We used conventional content analysis to inductively describe how DNP graduates from 7 different schools and their supervisors described the practice of the recently graduated DNPs. Interviews were reviewed to assess whether the AACN DNP Essentials were enacted in practice.


RESULTS: The overarching theme was "becoming more: re-envisioning self as an agent of change."


CONCLUSIONS: Results support the claim that DNP education prepares advanced practice nurses for leadership across complex healthcare systems. Evidence of the DNP Essentials is realized when graduates perceive themselves as equal to other leaders and capable of driving change using evidence and effective collaboration.