Clinical nursing scholarship, competencies, DNP, Doctor of Nursing Practice, nursing practice scholarship



  1. Kesten, Karen S. DNP, APRN, CCNS, CNE, FAAN (Associate Professor and Director of Doctor of Nursing Practice Scholarly Projects)


Background: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing introduced the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in 2004. To date, few publications examine the competencies and impact of nurses with practice doctorates.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine reasons for seeking a DNP degree, assess knowledge and competencies acquired from DNP programs, and to inform stakeholders about the skills acquired by nurses with practice doctorates.


Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to administer a self-report survey to a convenience sample of DNP-prepared nurses in practice, recruited from a national membership organization. The electronic survey was designed using constructs developed from the literature, national organization position statements, and standards of doctoral nursing education.


Results: A total of 306 participants responded to the survey, 270 were used after data review. The majority of respondents did not seek a DNP degree because it was required for a job, to gain additional supervised practice, or to receive additional training with a specialty population. The majority strongly agreed that they gained competency in translating and synthesizing research evidence into practice, designing and implementing quality improvement, and identifying, measuring, and evaluating outcomes.


Conclusions: Primary reasons for seeking a DNP degree were seeking knowledge, skills, competencies, confidence, and job opportunities.


Implications for practice: Doctor of Nursing Practice-prepared nurses hold unique, advanced knowledge, competencies and skills to affect health care across multiple settings. Study results suggest that highly skilled DNP-prepared nurses are equipped to lead quality improvement, engage in practice scholarship, and improve clinical outcomes.