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


In this article the practice and educational trends that led to the resurgence of interest in the practice doctorate in nursing were reviewed. The characteristics of existing practice doctoral programs and differences between practice- and research-focused programs were explicated. Potential benefits of the degree for health care and for nursing education were detailed. Several of the issues that were taken into account in the development of the AACN position paper on the practice doctorate were described. These included the scope of the degree, the recommendations regarding a core curricular structure and content areas for inclusion, and the controversial decision to recommend that the DNP be established as the degree for advanced nursing practice.

As we look ahead many issues remain to be resolved, and many challenges remain to be tackled. There is considerable work to be done by individuals and groups in practice, educational, and regulatory arenas. However, if excitement, interest and the number of institutions moving forward to develop DNP programs are valid indicators, then truly the practice-focused doctorate in nursing is an idea whose time has come.


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