DNP vs. PhD

  1. Just curious, with all of this DNP talk does anyone think that less people will go for the PhD now. We have so few PhDs as it is I just wonder what will happen with existing nursing doctorates. And what about the DNSc, is that being phased out? Or is it still available?
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  2. 28 Comments

  3. by   llg
    I've wondered that myself. My hope is that the nursing profession finally settles on only 2 different types of doctoral degrees -- one oriented toward clinical practice and one oriented toward scholarly work. If that's the DNP and the PhD, that is fine with me. If it's the DNS and the PhD, that is fine with me too. I just don't like to see so many different programs and degrees that it confuses the profession and the public. Right now we have: PhD, DNSc, DNS, ND, DNP. That's too many.

    llg, PhD, RN
  4. by   juan de la cruz
    From my limited knowledge of this matter, it appears that the DNP is being proposed as the clinical or practice doctorate and the DNSc and PhD will continue to be research-focused doctorate degrees in the field of nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing proposed making the DNP the required degree for entry into advanced practice nursing disciplines by 2015. If that is to happen, it will mean that all NP programs will be awarding DNP's instead of MS or MSN by that timeline.

    DNP programs across the country are increasing in numbers as more and more universities are jumping into the DNP bandwagon. There are pros and cons of the DNP. Personally, I am not sure I want the degree. The only DNP program in my state (offered only to practicing APN's who want to advance to a DNP) I was told is quite disorganized. I am also hearing that there is not any more clinical content added so I don't see the point in going through such program.

    If I end up deciding on a doctorate, I would prefer the PhD.
    Last edit by juan de la cruz on Dec 30, '06
  5. by   llg
    If I were younger and still choosing a path for me, I wouldn't be interested in a DNP either. It's not because I don't approve of it, but because they all seem to be geared toward the Nurse Practitioner role. I was never interested in being a Nurse Practitioner. At the Master's level, I was always interested in the CNS role and in staff development roles instead.

    What are the people who want careers in management, CNS, and staff development supposed to do at the Master's level? We need to be sure that those MSN programs don't disappear as more some MSN programs turn into DNP programs. We still need the traditional MSN option for people who don't want a NP role. And some of those people will also want to get a doctoral degree (like I did) even though they do not have careers in academia. I am a PhD prepared CNS and Staff Development Educator.
  6. by   lovingpecola
    I don't think the PhD track will decline at all. I do think we will eventually phase out all of the different titles and have only two: a practice-oriented one and an academic/research oriented one.

    I am so glad my school has switched over from DNSc to PhD.

    I agree we need to cut the confusion.
  7. by   juan de la cruz
    From my understanding, the AACN is proposing the DNP for all advanced practice nursing roles -- that will include CNS, CRNA, and CNM roles. That paints an even worse scenario because it would totally eliminate the MS option for nurses unless universities keep master's degrees for the nurse educator and nurse manager options.

    I am still confused as to why there is a push for doctorates in the clinical arena not only in nursing but in other health related fields such as physical and occupational therapy. Pharmacy programs have successfully transitioned into the PharmD across the country from what I hear. I don't get it. Wouldn't this drive up the cost of health care? wouldn't this add more confusion among patients who wouldn't be able to tell which one is which since pretty much everyone is going to be addressed as doctor?
  8. by   gizmo12
    I doubt anyone will get paid more for the DNP. This is why I do not know why nurses are pushing for it. Is it going to better prepare a nurse to care for a patient? Is it going to be all pie-in-the-sky, nebulous theory? In the end, what is the real point of this "educational inflation?"
  9. by   llg
    Quote from gizmo12
    I doubt anyone will get paid more for the DNP. This is why I do not know why nurses are pushing for it. Is it going to better prepare a nurse to care for a patient? Is it going to be all pie-in-the-sky, nebulous theory? In the end, what is the real point of this "educational inflation?"
    People with doctoral degrees working in the clinical setting DO get some benefits (and sometimes, better pay) than people with MSN's. There are an increasing number of nursing roles that are being developed for people with doctoral degrees. They are still few and far between, but they do exist. I have such a role at my hospital, where I work on special projects.

    No one is suggesting that the bedside staff nurses be doctorally prepared -- but the possibilities for nursing roles in a hospital go far beyond the bedside. Research, research utilization, staff education, program design, program evaluation, etc. all benefit from the involvement of people who have been educated at the doctoral level.
  10. by   BeaconStreet
    I'm in the process of applying to direct-entry MSN programs right now. Does anyone (especially those currently enrolled in one of these programs) know what will happen to those of us who graduate just a few years before this change would take effect?

    Will degree programs shifting to DNP allow MSN students to stay a little longer to get the new degree? Even with grandfathering of old degrees, I'd still hate to be in one of the last classes to get a degree that would almost immediately be outdated!
  11. by   miko626
    Hi Beacon!

    I am currently in your situation (well somewhat). I am currently in my 2nd semester of a master's entry program in CA. By 2010 I should be done with my master's and NP. However, with this push for DNP for all APN, I think I'll be stuck in school until 2012 (total of 6 years).

    The instructors are somewhat fuzzy about the details, so I am definitely worried. Does anyone know what will happen to current NP's? Will they be forced to go back to school after 2015 to get their DNP?
  12. by   juan de la cruz
    If this plan becomes a reality in 2015, all certified and practicing APN's with master's degrees will be grandfathered and can still practice as APN's. There will be an option to return to school for a post-master's DNP for those that wish to earn the DNP credential. As a matter of fact, there's quite a few post-master's DNP programs that are in existence now.
  13. by   miko626
    Thanks for the clarification! Going to/back to get the DNP is always an open option, however I feel like we shouldn't be "forced" into it. Well it's only 2007 now, I guess all we can do is wait
  14. by   raphaela
    I am in the middle of this quandary. I am an NP (both FNP and psychiatric) and have a MPH (which I enjoyed enormously). Essentially that is what a DNP is - a merger of the two programs. For those of you contemplating the DNP, I am told that it is very interesting program. The only problem I see with it, is that if anyone is contemplating a career in academia, the DNP will most likely never be an accepted as a viable tenure track position. But the PhD is unbelievably rigorous. Most drop out, for it is so highly theoretical and I am told deadly dull.

    Another consideration is that, let's face it fellow nurses, the profession can't seem to get it's act together, and is not beneath the establishment to offer goofy programs - Clinical Nurse Leader - what in the world is that? - to see them fade into the darkness. It is a disgrace that the Clinical Nurse Specialist is being disestablished. PA's are now filling in the breach that CNS, with a retooling of the programs for RX privileges could have done, in areas such as surgery, neuro, ortho, psych, etc. Could this be a craze where we all go back for our "doctorate", to see it replaced with something new? The 2015 deadline has never been codified, for considering the argument for the point of entry into the profession be a BSN versus AAS has been raging for close to forty years with no resolution, I really can't foresee that the universities eliminating the masters in favor of the doctorate any time soon. Many instructors in university settings only have their masters. Those who have PhDs, most are not even NPs. How can they possibly train DNP's when they themselves trained, nor are NPs?

    I have decided on an online DNP program at an established university. It's a respected state university, therefore the tuition is very very reasonable. I will take my time with the classes. I am doing the program as a hedge, so I don't find myself deep into middle age and having to go back to school to compete with the younger doctorally-prepared nurses.

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