I was looking into future possibilities through Arizona State University and noticed that all their NP programs are "DNP". Does this mean you get the title of Dr. once you get this degree vs the NP degrees?
I have a long ways to go, but I can't find the answer to this anywhere and it's confusing.
Mar 3, '10
by llg, BSN, MSN, PhD Guide
NP is a certification, not a degree. People are eligible to take an exam and become an NP after they have completed an approved education program. In the beginning (back in the 1960's) you didn't even need a Bachelor's Degree to qualify for some NP exams. But then the profession raised the standards for beome certified as an NP and a Bachelor's Degree was required. Then, the standard was raised again and the NP educational program were moved to the Master's level. So, people got a Master's Degree in Nursing focuing on the NP role and then took the exam to get certified as an NP.
The profession is going through another period of transition. Many people want to see the educationl standard for NP's rise again. Many schools are converting the Master's Degree programs focused on preparing NP's to doctoral level programs. The DNP is a new academic degree (not a certification) focusing with a more clinical focus than traditional PhD's. There is a movement to require the DNP degree as the standard for taking the NP exam and becoming certified as an NP.
However ... that official change in standard has not happened yet -- and may or may not become official in the very near future. That's a political question that the profession is wrestling with now. Currently, some schools have closed their Master's levels NP preparation programs and opened DNP programs to prepare NP's. Some schools have not. The people actually providing the test are still accepting the Master's Degree NP programs as sufficient. It is expected that even if the official educational standard for taking the exam rises to the doctoral level, current NP's will be "grandfathered in" an retain their NP certification.
So ... in a nutshell:
"NP" is a certification one earns by taking an exam after completing an approved educational program. "DNP" is an academic degree offered by a school. The issue of what type of educational programs will be required to take the certification exam and maintain certification as an NP is a political issue that is currently being discussed. Historical trends are for the educational standards to rise, but that is no guarantee that the DNP will be required any time soon -- but then, it might if the political winds favor are blowing in that direction.
Whether or not graduates of DNP programs should use the title "Dr." in the clinical setting is another political question -- and one that is hotly debated. As holders of a doctoral degree, DNP graduates are entitled to use the "Dr." title. However, that could be confusing to patients and other staff members, causing some people to think that they should not use the "Dr." title. Other people think that educating the public about "different types of doctors" is the best long-term, healthy approach to the fact that we have many different staff members with different types of doctoral degrees in the clinical setting. There is no concensus on that issue.
Last edit by llg on Mar 3, '10