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D.Ed vs. DNP for Senior Leadership Roles

by CurlyhairedRN CurlyhairedRN (New) New

I am having some trouble deciding which terminal degree would be better for my background and my career goals..I am an ED Staff BSN with a total of 6 years bedside experience and 7 years academic/basic science research. An MPH with independent basic research from Yale and 4.5 years of a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology that I did not finish because of the end of the Space Shuttle Program and after that I decided I was done with research. I would really love to eventually have a role in senior nursing leadership in either Academia or the Healthcare Setting. Most likely the healthcare setting. The course work for an D.Ed in Healthcare Administration Leadership sounds the most interesting. Most job posts for Senior Nursing Leadership state MSN required or Masters level required, doctoral preferred. Would I be competitive with an BSN, MPH, D.Ed? Or would they require an MSN/DNP? Which would prepare me more for a senior nursing leadership position where I can bring about change and growth? DNP or D.Ed? I am concerned that without an MSN or DNP the senior leadership positions would still be out of touch for me....any and all advice appreciated!!!!

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Generally speaking, and MSN is required for nursing leadership- both in facilities and in academia. Academia, in my expereince, is pretty much evenly split DNP/ PhD/ EdD as the terminal degree. But the MSN is critical.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

I agree with meanmaryjean. In the olden days, people were less picky about advanced education -- the field didn't matter as much, any graduate degree would do. However increasingly, people want to see nursing leaders have academic degrees that are beyond the entry level in nursing -- and BSN is an entry-level degree. How can you reasonably be expected to be considered an "expert nurse" if none of your advanced degrees is focused on nursing? That's the issue. And it will be hard to earn the respect of those of us with advanced degrees in nursing and be our leader if you yourself only have an entry-level nursing education.

Getting at least a Master's Degree in nursing is essential to be able to call yourself a nurse with an advanced nursing education. And if you want to be a leader of nursing, then you will need at least 1 advanced nursing degree. If you don't want to be a NURSING leader, but want to be a leader of other disciplines, then skipping the advanced nursing degree is possible.

So ... the question becomes ... Do you want to be a Nursing Leader? Or do you not care about that and would be fine with some other job in healthcare (non-nursing) in a leadership role? If you want to be seen as an advanced nurse, you will need to study nursing at an advanced level.

Finally, check the current Magnet guidelines. I'm not sure of the current requirements, but they have always leaned towards wanting nursing leaders to be educated in nursing. I doubt that will change in the near future.

Good luck with whatever career path you choose.

Thank you so much! That clarifies the issue totally for me and I had been confused for weeks. It makes perfect sense.