COMMENTARY

In Support of Doctor of Nursing Practice Education in Canada

Tony K.C. Tung, MN, AGD(ANP), NP

Disclosures

November 03, 2010

In This Article

Abstract

This position paper reflects the author's support for the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree as an alternative to traditional nursing doctoral education in Canada. Currently, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing is the only doctoral degree available from graduate schools in Canada. Clinicians, clinical leaders, policymakers, and clinical academicians do not have an option to enter a professional or practice doctorate program. The requirement for evidence-based nursing practice is increasing, and the transformation of research and knowledge to clinical practice is disjointed. Both the DNP and PhD in nursing are necessary to fulfill the rising demand for the generation of knowledge and evidence. The DNP-prepared nurse has the expert ability to transform research into clinical practice. Nurse educators and leaders should review the need to provide a DNP option for doctoral nursing education in Canada.

Advanced Nursing Education in Canada

The most advanced nursing degree in Canada at present is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing. The vision of a practice doctorate is not supported by most professional nursing groups. Although evidence-based practice is the norm in nursing, I believe that the transformation of research and knowledge to clinical nursing practice in Canada is disjointed. This article will argue that the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is needed in Canada to create expert research users and to educate expert clinicians, policymakers, educators, and administrators.

I believe that nursing organizations, regulatory bodies, and academic programs across Canada should consider the unique function of both the DNP and PhD in nursing education programs. This will be necessary to meet the increasing demand for the generation of new knowledge and evidence and to be able to transform research findings into clinical knowledge, practices, and policies.

The United States has addressed the ideological issues of having both DNP and PhD graduate nursing education programs. The momentum for acceptance of the practice doctorate is evidenced by the explosion in the number of schools that offer DNP programs in the United States. Currently, 128 colleges and universities in the United States offer the DNP program.[1]

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