In today’s aggressive medical world, it takes more than mere raw skill and intuition to curve a notch in the market. A solid educational background proves invaluable and enables one to remain competitive in an environment that is constantly being flooded by skilled personnel. In the nursing practice, there are various programs offered to ensure that the practitioners are all rounded and well versed in every aspect of the practice. The DNP program is defined in the USA College of Nursing website as a professional degree that focuses on preparing the scholars such that they provide the best of nursing services to individuals and communities effectively and efficiently (USACN, 2010). This program differs from the traditional PhD program in the following ways.
Differences between PhD and DNP programs
The PhD program evolves around the discovery of knowledge and dissemination of the same while the DNP program focuses on the usage of research forums towards the identification of new clinical research outcomes and the evaluation and translation of these findings such that they apply in the practice setting (AACN, 2006). In terms of objectives, the PhD program seeks to prepare scholars in the nursing field on how to conduct research that improves the theoretical underpinning of the nursing profession and healthcare all around the world while the DNP program prepares the nurses at the topmost stage of nursing to be leaders in the translation and application of research into practice.
As pertaining to competence and content, the PhD program offers knowledge and skills in three main approaches (theoretical, methodological and analytic) aimed at discovering and applying knowledge in the nursing and healthcare practice while the DNP program provides the scholars with knowledge and skills in applying and translating research into practice making the practitioners leaders in the dissemination and integration of new knowledge in the healthcare sector. Additionally, in terms of program outcome, the PhD program prepares the scholars to undertake a profession in research in academic circles or other research-based environments while the DNP program prepares the nurses to effectively handle leadership positions in the nursing and healthcare arenas (Edwardson, 2010).
The core courses in each program also present points of difference. The PhD program dwells on a philosophy of science and theoretical development in advanced research methods, data analysis, and qualitative research methods, illnesses that are chronic in nature and care systems. On the other hand, the DNP program utilizes an evidence-based practice and applied statistics data approach regarding leadership and financial management, budgetary allocation techniques (planning) and the transformation of health systems.
Since the DNP program is designed for working nurses, it offers part-time study. The PhD program does not have this feature. Additionally, a nurse must have covered a minimum of 400 clinical hours within the capstone project to qualify for the DNP program while no clinical hours are required to join the PhD program. On the same note, the DNP program has a credit requirement of between 34 to 94 credit points; it offers distance learning and an online learning option, does not require a dissertation, and lasts for five semesters for MSN entry. The PhD program on the other hand requires a minimum of 46 points, does not offer distance learning or the online study program and a dissertation is a prerequisite to successful graduation.
AACN. (2006). The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice. Web.
Edwardson, S.R. (2010). Doctor of philosophy and doctor of nursing practice as complementary degrees. Journal of Professional Nursing, 26(3), 137-140.
USACN. (2010). Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Web.