Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing. Select a role requiring either a DNP or a PhD in nursing, and explain how this role functions within an interdisciplinary healthcare setting (clinical or non-clinical).
Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing. Discuss which of these you would choose to pursue if you decide to continue your education to the doctoral level and explain why.
Nurses with a master’s degree in science nursing are increasingly seeking to advance their careers by obtaining a DNP or a Ph.D. A nurse considering a career in leadership may be confused about how to differentiate and choose between these two doctorate programs. While both a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) are considered terminal nursing degrees for APRNs, there are significant differences between them.
The primary distinction is in the nature and scope of the programs. The DNP is a practice-oriented program, whereas the Ph.D. is a research-oriented program. A DNP program focuses on clinical practice, so it primarily seeks to advance the nurse’s clinical and leadership skills. After completing a DNP program, a nurse will be able to: • effectively integrate evidence-based practice into practice • spearhead various interdisciplinary care teams • systematically evaluate and translate care outcomes
A Ph.D. program, on the other hand, focuses on academic research. The programs place a greater emphasis on developing and improving students’ research and writing skills, with the ultimate goal of allowing them to develop and improve evidence-based knowledge in the nursing field. Furthermore, the program emphasizes understanding the origins and evolution of nursing as a profession.
A Ph.D. graduate can work in education research, lead research teams, and be involved in the development and implementation of various types of studies.
To receive a DNP, a student must complete a capstone project demonstrating adequate knowledge and clinical practice skills. A Ph.D. program, on the other hand, requires students to complete and defend dissertation research in front of a committee.
As part of the graduation requirements for a DNP program, students must complete at least 1000 hours of supervised clinical practice. In contrast, a Ph.D. program does not require students to complete any clinical hours of practice because the majority of their tasks are performed outside of the clinical setting.
Making a decision between a DNP and a Ph.D.
Both the DNP and the Ph.D. are rewarding programs, so the decision is personal. If I had to choose between these two doctorate programs, I would be influenced by a number of factors.
For example, if I want to continue working in clinical practice but in a leadership role, I’d pursue a DNP. A Ph.D. program, on the other hand, would be my first choice if I wanted to work in research, education, or academia.
K. Canady (2020). Practical and philosophical factors to consider when deciding between a DNP and a Ph.D. in nursing. Professional Nursing Journal
N. R. Yancey (2020). DNP or Ph.D. as a Nursing Faculty Credential: Options and Consequences 217-221 in Nursing Science Quarterly, 33(3).