10. To demonstrate my commitment to practice. In contrast to a PhD-prepared nurse, whose career may be focused on knowledge development and research, a doctorate of nursing practice- (DNP-) prepared nurse has a career that may be rooted in practice.
9. Everybody’s doing it. Pharmacists already have made a doctorate the minimum education required for practice. Physical therapists have a goal of doctorate entry by 2015. Nursing is moving this direction also. Growth in the number of doctorate-prepared nurses speaks volumes about the distinction of nursing as a unique profession.
8. They will call me “doctor.” The American Medical Association already has begun to make its dissent heard on this issue; however, I see this as a great opportunity to educate patients about the various roles and titles of the members of their healthcare team. Confusing patients is a flimsy reason to avoid calling doctorate prepared nurses doctor. I still hear patients call MAs their nurse. Everyone on the team has a responsibility (and right) to identify themselves to every patient by their name, title, and role.
7. DNPs have a thriving community. The Doctors of Nursing Practice community is the outgrowth of the work of DNP students to promote, communicate, document, and connect the work of DNP-prepared nurses.
6. DNPs will bridge the theory-practice gap. Ideally, the DNP will be an expert in evidence-based practice implementation and will effectively bring all that theory to the bedside.
5. Academic institutions offer a bachelor’s entry option. Although not all institutions offer this, I found it to be a great option, especially because I was so enthusiastic about jumping headfirst into my graduate education.
4. DNPs will be well-prepared to lead in interprofessional healthcare settings. DNP prepared nurses are expert team builders and cross the nurse-doctor party lines. According to the American Academy of Colleges in Nursing, “DNP members of these teams have advanced preparation in the interprofessional dimension of health care that enable them to facilitate collaborative team functioning and overcome impediments to interprofessional practice” (p. 14).
3. The IOM recommends it. One of the recommendations from the IOM’s 2010 report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health recommends that the current number of doctorate-prepared nurses double by the year 2020.
2. DNPs can teach. I was a little worried about not being as attractive to academic institutions being DNP-prepared if I decided I wanted to teach at any point in my career. However, DNP prepared nurses are needed as educators also. Additionally, collaborations between DNPs and PhDs will drive practice improvement, healthcare reform, and better patient outcomes.
1. DNPs are pioneers. Nurses have been earning doctorate degrees specific to the profession since 1924 when Teacher’s College at Columbia University began granting the EdD in nursing education. The DNS and DNSc also have been available as options for nurses seeking higher education; however, ever since the University of Kentucky enrolled the first DNP class in 2001, DNP-prepared nurses have grown exponentially. Although relatively new, the numbers are growing because more and more nurses recognize that this educational preparation is valuable. DNP-prepared nurses have the potential to revolutionize the current healthcare system and contribute meaningfully to the evolution of our profession.