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

Elizabeth R. Lenz, PhD, RN, FAAN


Online J Issues Nurs. 2005;10(3) 

In This Article

Recent Developments

The pace of program development since approval of the position paper has been remarkable, suggesting that the practice doctorate will tap an important unmet need in nursing education and practice. Programs have currently been approved in at least 10 institutions (including the four ND and one DNS programs that have already or are about to change the degree offered to the DNP), and the most recent information collected by AACN indicates that over 40 institutions are in the process of developing practice-focused doctoral programs. An accreditation process is being developed.

Two AACN task forces are currently working to develop guidelines that will be useful to institutions developing practice doctoral programs and to licensing and accrediting bodies. The AACN Essentials Task Force is developing an Essentials document that will recommend terminal competencies and content areas for all DNP programs (i.e., the core), as well as faculty qualifications, resource needs, and possible roles of graduates. This essentials document is analogous to those developed for baccalaureate and master's education. The AACN Task Force on the Roadmap to the Doctor of Nursing Practice has been asked to "identify, assess, and make recommendations regarding academic, practice, and regulatory issues to be addressed in the implementation process. The Task Force also should assess the implications of this change for the full variety of academic organizations that currently provide master's level nursing education" (AACN, 2004). It is thus addressing issues of certification, licensure and regulation, as well as possible routes of progression to the doctorate. During fall, 2005 and winter, 2006, the groups will hold joint regional meetings in Boston, Atlanta, St. Louis, Houston, and San Diego. These meetings are designed to provide the opportunity for widespread discussion and feedback about the documents and recommendations being developed. Various specialty organizations, such as NONPF, are in the process of soliciting input about and developing doctoral-level competencies and suggested content for the specialty component of the programs.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.