The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) adds no new clinical content. It is a practice doctorate and not a clinical doctorate per se. Nursing practice incorporates the values and principles of nursing to skillfully assist clients (individuals, families, communities, health systems, nations) progress to their maximum potential. Therefore, DNP education reinforces and expands (advances) nursing knowledge application irregardless of the setting (clinical, administrative, political, etc.).
In part, it grew out of a response to 2 landmark papers by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published in 2000 and 2001 where nursing was essentially urged to take on more leadership in healthcare in general. That healthcare, urged the IOM, should be evidence-based, serviced by a more educated workforce, and streamlined to bring research to practice in a more timely and efficient manner. Given that nursing comprises the largest sector of healthcare professionals, and the most trusted based on consumer surveys year after year, it made and makes sense to enlarge the training on this type of leadership among advanced practice nurses. Furthermore, masters level nursing (MSN) education continued and continues to require increasingly more credit and clinical hours. In fact, MSN programs often have as many or nearly as many credit hours as doctoral programs of other healthcare disciplines. Adding the leadership and evidence-based practice-focused courses to the already credit-packed MSN curriculum clearly justifies making them doctoral instead of unfairly limiting practitioners to MSN level while charging them for and requiring hours worthy of a doctorate.
Having said all that, and these are merely just a few of the reasons for the necessity of DNP-level training, it is clear to me that non-clinical advanced practice nurses (meaning those not involved in direct clinical care) should also be included among DNPs. This is not a fluff degree. Sure, more clinical content would be beneficial for those in the clinical tracks. Yet this fact does not detract from the significance of the DNP to nursing practice specifically, and healthcare in general.