The Doctor of Nursing Practice for Entry Into Advanced Practice

The Controversy Continues as 2015 Looms

Sandra Bellini, DNP, APRN, NNP-BC, CNE; Regina M. Cusson, PhD, APRN, NNP-BC, FAAN


NAINR. 2012;12(1):12-16. 

In This Article


Entry into practice issues have historically been very controversial in nursing. Beginning with the famous 1965 white paper in which the American Nurses Association (ANA) endorsed the baccalaureate degree as the minimal educational preparation for entry into nursing practice, there has been no shortage of dissent in the nursing ranks.[1] Fast forward to October 2004 and the more recent position statement issued by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in which the AACN proposed raising the educational bar for entry into advanced nursing practice from the current Master's degree to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree by 2015.[2] More dissent has appeared, much for the same reasons and concerns brought about by the 1965 statement.

The endorsement of the move to the DNP degree for entry into advanced practice continues to raise controversies, some real and some hypothetical. What follows in this article are a presentation and an examination of some of the most pertinent and important issues that remain unresolved today. The complex context of societal implications for health professions education, economic pressures, and professional controversies that may determine the success of this educational transformation, at home and abroad, is explored. Finally, what will it all mean to neonatal nurses? Implications for the future of neonatal advanced practice and faculty roles are examined.


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