The Doctoral Degree and Professional Nursing Practice


The Doctoral Degree and Professional Nursing Practice


In response to the continuous changes in health care today, nurses are charged with staying well informed on many rapidly evolving aspects of patient care. They are also expected to contribute to the improvement of health care quality. Engaging in doctoral education is an admirable way to position oneself for accomplishing this goal, and it can lead to new professional opportunities.

Why did you decide to enroll in graduate school? What informed your decision to pursue your chosen degree? How will earning this degree influence your career?

This week, you consider the characteristics of various programs, including the DNP and the PhD. The focus of the DNP degree is on clinical practice, whereas the focus of the PhD is on research. In conjunction with other professional colleagues, DNP- and PhD-prepared nurses often collaborate to analyze critical issues and find appropriate ways to address them.

This first Discussion provides an opportunity for you to examine what it means to earn a doctorate and how your selected degree program relates to your professional goals.


To prepare:

  Consider the reasons you have chosen to pursue an advanced degree. How do you anticipate that earning this degree will support your professional goals? Reflect on the comments shared by the experts in this week’s media regarding the value of a DNP degree and the various roles available to DNP-prepared nurses, as well as the characteristics of the PhD program and opportunities for PhD-prepared nurses. Based on the information presented this week, have you developed any new ideas or goals for your future? If so, what are they?


By tomorrow 5/31/17, post 550 words essay in APA format with 3 references from the list below, that include the level one heading as numbered below:

Post  a cohesive response that addresses the following:

1)       What does it mean to be a nurse with a practice or research doctorate? What are the expectations associated with this degree? How might this be different for a nurse who holds a different degree?

2)       How do these considerations relate to your motivation to pursue a doctoral degree right now?

Required Readings


Zaccagnini, M. E., & White, K. W. (2014). The doctor of nursing practice essentials: A new model for advanced practice nursing (2nd ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett. [Vital Source e-reader]

[For DNP students ONLY]

“Imagining the DNP Role” (pp. xvii–xxviii)

  This reading introduces and defines the DNP degree, with a particular emphasis on the aim to provide high-level preparation for the advanced practice of nursing.


Houser, J. (2015). Nursing research: Reading, using, and creating evidence (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett .

[For PhD students ONLY]

Chapter 1, “The Importance of Research as Evidence in Nursing”

  This chapter describes nursing research, its evolution, and its application in nursing practice.


  American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). (2006). The essentials of doctoral education for advanced nursing practice. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from

[For DNP students ONLY]

“Introduction” (pp. 3–7)

  This section of an AACN document focuses on how the practice-oriented DNP degree complements and relates to the research-oriented PhD and other degrees.


  Cleary, M., Hunt, G. E., & Jackson, D. (2011). Demystifying PhDs: A review of doctorate programs designed to fulfill the needs of the next generation of nursing professionals. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 39(2), 273–280.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

[For PhD students ONLY]

Conn, V. S. (2014). Prepare to launch: Optimizing doctoral education to ensure career success. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 36(1), 3–5.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.


Conn, V. S., Zerwic, J., Rawl, S., Wyman, J. F., Larson, J. L., Anderson, C. M., Markis, N. E. (2014). Strategies for a successful PhD program: Words of wisdom from the WJNR editorial board. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 36(1), 6–30 .

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

[For PhD students ONLY]


Foster, R. L. (2012). Doctoral education and the future of nursing. Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 17(2), 77–78.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.


Sperhac, A. M., & Clinton, P. (2008). Doctorate of nursing practice: Blueprint for excellence. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 22(3), 146–151.

Note: You will access this article from the Walden Library databases.

[For DNP students ONLY]

  This article provides background on the development of the DNP degree, illustrates its necessary competencies, and evaluates the value of a DNP degree as well as challenges to its validity.


Required Media


  Laureate Education (Producer). (2012g). Welcome to Walden [Video file]. Retrieved from

  Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 2 minutes.

  In this media program, the president of Walden University welcomes you to the Walden learning community and shares examples of how Walden students are making a difference in their communities. She also describes how Walden’s Welcome Center supports you as a new student and makes it easier for you to connect with Walden when you have a question or need information.


  Laureate Education (Producer). (2011b). Introduction: The doctor of nursing practice [Video file]. Retrieved from

  Note:  The approximate length of this media piece is 15 minutes.

  In this media presentation, Dr. Joan Stanley discusses how the DNP degree evolved. In addition, Dr. Linda Beechinor and Dr. Susan Stefan share their experiences completing the DNP degree and explain how it has influenced their nursing careers.




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