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Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Programs Skyrocketing

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, May 29, 2012

"It will get the staff nurses at all levels more engaged in what research can do at the bedside," George says.

In addition to translating research into practice, George says the doctoral degree itself is important to the nursing profession. In fact, 2004, the AACN set a goal "that preparation for specialization in nursing should occur at the doctoral level by 2015."

"Parity in education is very important. When you have medical physicians being trained at the doctoral level it's important that nurses have similar standards," George says. She points to other disciplines, such as pharmacy and physical therapy, which both have moved to the doctoral level.

"Nursing was a little late to come to the table," she says. "But that's where our profession needs to be…you speak with more authority."

Parity in education is also critical to advanced practice nurses' fight for autonomy. Whether the DNP will silence critics is unclear—perhaps even unlikely—but George says the typical physician argument that nurses don't have sufficient education will be certainly flimsier.

"The argument will be less relevant because they have a terminal degree and we have a terminal degree," she says.


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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2 comments on "Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Programs Skyrocketing"


Romeo Smith (6/3/2012 at 3:35 PM)
It is wonderful that physical therapists, pharmacists, and now nurses can actually have a degree at the doctorate level; and so be called "doctors" and not to mention the people with PhDs. How are you guys going to introduce to your patients? Hi I'm doctor x.... I am certain that this would create a lot of confusion to the patients, especially to our underserved population (which have low levels of education). Perhaps we should find a different title for the real doctors that are our physicians!!!

dr k (6/1/2012 at 7:16 PM)
Nurses are trained differently and the details of the study is different then medical school. 1) PAs and NPs should practice under the supervision of a doctor regardless if they study a few more years. 2) If you wanted to function like a doctor then attend medical school like doctors. Would you get law advice from someone who did NOT attend law school. 3) State medical boards need to be wary of NPs and PAs hiring lobbyists to push this agenda.