The Practice Doctorate in Nursing: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Elizabeth R. Lenz, PhD, RN, FAAN

Disclosures

Online J Issues Nurs. 2005;10(3) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction

The practice-focused doctorate is an important alternative to research-focused doctorates in nursing. The goal of this article is to provide the reader with an understanding of the nature and potential benefits of the practice doctorate. After discussing the background of this doctoral degree and the development of the degree by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Task Force on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, the article will describe patterns in practice-focused doctoral education and issues considered by the task force in developing the position paper on the practice doctorate in nursing. A look ahead provides an update on current steps being taken by AACN and others toward implementing the task force's recommendations.

During the past five years interest in a practice doctorate in nursing has been building at a tremendous rate. Viewed as a viable alternative to the research-focused doctorate in nursing for those who aim to attain the highest levels of excellence in practice, the practice-focused doctorate has been a topic of frequent discussion at professional meetings and is increasingly being addressed in professional journals. A major catalyst for the current level of interest has been the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) position paper on the practice doctorate. This position paper was the result of two years of work by a task force, which gathered information about existing practice-focused doctoral programs in nursing, hosted multiple sessions to obtain input from stakeholders about the advisability of recommending such programs, grappled with many issues, and ultimately made decisions that the task force realized would be controversial. The goal of this article is to provide the reader with an understanding of the nature and potential benefits of the practice doctorate. After discussing the background of this doctoral degree and the development of the position paper by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Task Force on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, the article will describe patterns in practice-focused doctoral education and issues considered by the task force in developing the position paper on the practice doctorate in nursing. Finally a look ahead provides an update on current steps being taken by AACN and others toward implementing the task force's recommendations.

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