DNP vs PhD in nursing

DNP vs PhD in nursing

Topic 3 DQ 2

NRS-440VN Trends and Issues in Today’s Healthcare

Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing. Discuss which of these you would choose to pursue if you decide to continue your education to the doctoral level and explain why.

Topic 3 DQ 2

According to Gaines,DNP graduates are leaders in advanced nursing practice that bring evidence-based knowledge into the clinical setting to help improve healthcare outcomes and strengthen the leadership role of nurses in both the clinical and academic setting. An individual with a DNP can function in a provider capacity but most also work to generate new scientific and clinical knowledge in nursing and healthcare. A nurse practitioner with a doctorate does not change the scope of practice. (Gaines, 2019).

On the other hand, The scope of practice for a nurse with a Ph.D. is tricky. Individuals can work as a bedside nurse, but unless they are a CRNP, they do not have any advanced responsibilities or roles beyond a normal bedside nurse. Nurses who earn a PhD typically fall into two employment categories: nurse researcher and nurse educator. (Gaines, 2019).


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If I were to make a choice. I would most likely choose DNPas opposed to Ph.D. simply because they work closely withpatients and I’ve always liked meeting new people and gettingto know to a more personal level. Although research study isinteresting,I find working at bedside and being able to helppatients more than I normally do as a nurse makes myreasoning why I wanted to become a nurse to begin with–fulfilling.

Gaines, K. (2019). Dnp vs ph.d. – in nursing- what is the difference? Retrieved from DNP vs PhD in nursing

Topic 3 DQ 2

Since the rise in patient population resulting from the Affordable Care Act, nurse scientists are entering the field of research at an earlier period in their career than before. Both DNP and PhD nurses participate in the forefront of cutting edge research. A simple overview of the difference is the two is that a DNP is more practice based and PhD is more suited toward nursing research. My personal interests are more in the area of nursing practice. I enjoy working with patients and family members in a more holistic manner. A PhD would give me the ability to take a more behind the scenes look at the statistics behind everything but I don’t think I would enjoy it is much because I like the interactions with other caregivers and people. “Overall, the number of schools with a DNP program has grown tenfold in the past seven years. The AACN Annual Survey of Baccalaureate and Graduate Nursing Programs revealed that, of 400 schools offering some level of APRN education in 2013, 98 (25 percent) had active BSN-to-DNP programs and 229 (57 percent) had MSN-to-DNP programs.”


Auerbach, D. I., Martsolf, G. R., Pearson, M. L., Taylor, E. A., Zaydman, M., Muchow, A. N., Spetz, J., & Lee, Y. (2015). The DNP by 2015: A Study of the Institutional, Political, and Professional Issues that Facilitate or Impede Establishing a Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Rand health quarterly, 5(1), 3.

 Topic 3 DQ 2

Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) curriculum leans more toward improving health care through transformational leadership, evidence-based practice, quantitative methods, and data-driven quality improvement (Duke University School of Nursing, 2020). It does not include student stipends, nor does it require a dissertation. A student can attend on a part-time basis, unlike a PhD in Nursing, which requires full-time status. PhD curriculum is focused on preparing the student for research and includes, philosophy, science, statistics, analysis of data and qualitative research. Tuition is usually paid for by the university and PhD students are paid a stipend.

I would have to choose the DNP path because I could attend part time, and many universities offer online programs that are designed for working nurses. Having had a 36 year career already, I would love to be instrumental in helping to transform healthcare. I believe we need stronger leaders in nursing to advocate for the profession, and to be a part of decision-making.

Duke University School of Nursing. (2020). DNP-PhD comparison. Retrieved from


Topic 3 DQ 2

Both DNP and Ph.D. in nursing are essential in pursuing a doctorate in nursing. The most significant difference between the two is that DNP is practice-focused, and a Ph.D. is a research-focused program. The DNP, also known as the Doctor of Nursing Practice, is a degree that focuses on clinical practice at the highest level of a nursing license. Nurses who go for DNP degree programs want to practice nursing. The DNP programs equip them with scientific, evidence-based research and translate it into patient care to improve healthcare outcomes (Canady, 2020). Additionally, DNP programs frequently require the accomplishment of clinical hours because of the clinical practice element. Lastly, a DNP graduate will be self-assured of leading an interdisciplinary care team and estimate the outcome among a specific patient population.

On the other hand, a Ph.D., also known as a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, focuses on research and students’ research to advance nursing practice and science. At one time, Ph.D. was seen as the only doctorate option. The Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS) has similar traits to that of a Ph.D. Students who enroll in Ph.D. focuses on learning theories and policies of research so they may pinpoint the information that is appropriate to patient care (Neal-Boylan, 2020). Ph.D. students have a broader understanding of nursing practice that will aid them in providing good research. A Ph.D. program runs for a minimum of three years for full-time students. The type of nursing that I am more interested in is having more contact with the patient and their families. With a better understanding between Ph.D. and DNP, I will go for DNP. I feel that my strongest desire lies in the DNP since it is more practical. DNP vs PhD in nursing


Canady, K. (2020). Practical and philosophical considerations in choosing the DNP or PhD in nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing.

Neal-Boylan, L. (2020). PhD or DNP? That Is the Question. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners16(2), A5-A6.



 Topic 3 DQ 2

The DNP is an advanced nursing practice degree, often with a focus on clinical practice, and the PH.D. in nursing is a research and academic degree. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is a doctoral degree that is pursued by an experienced nurse practitioner who wants to advance in their clinical practice and sometimes move into a leadership position. Experience however is no longer a prerequisite however, as many nurse practitioner programs are integrating the DNP into their curriculum making them RN-DNP programs. Also, most nurse practitioner programs are requiring faculty to have an advanced degree (DNP or PH.D.) to teach. Again, the DNP focuses a lot on nursing practice. Curriculums are built on creating nursing leaders who have the skills and tools needed to take evidence they obtain through research and implement it in clinical practice to ultimately improve patient outcomes. It focuses also on advancing the understanding of the nursing practice. DNP vs PhD in nursing Ultimately these skills will allow DNP-prepared nurses to lead interdisciplinary teams, improve patient care, and evaluate outcomes to hopefully eventually change healthcare standards. Because of the clinical practice component, DNP programs often require the completion of clinical hours. This is usually not required in a PH.D. program(Moskowitz.K,2019)

The focus of most Ph.D. in nursing programs is on research. The purpose of this program is to prepare nursing scientists to develop new nursing knowledge to advance the actual science of how we do our jobs. Graduates often lead research teams and are often involved in clinical trials. PH.D. graduates are also often found in academic settings. Not only do they teach, but they also often help to design, develop, and research educational programs. Because of this, many Ph. D. programs often require a mentored teaching experience (Moskowitz. K,2019).

For those who want to continue to work as a clinician, possibly in a leadership role, the DNP may be a better choice. For those who want to work in research, education, and academia primarily, a Ph.D. may be the better choice. Personally, if I decide to continue my education to the doctoral level, I will pursue DNP because I would continue to work as a clinician rather than to work in research or education. DNP vs PhD in nursing


Moskowitz. K(2019) The Difference Between a DNP and a Ph.D. in Nursing? Retrieved from:


 Topic 3 DQ 2
While researching the differences between DNP and PhD in nursing, most agree that they are both terminal degrees qualifying an individual expertise in the field of nursing, however the DNP is viewed as a clinical approach while the PhD is a research-based approach. These degrees are chosen based on the career goals of the nurse pursuing them. For example, individuals aiming to obtain positions in leadership or nursing education would be more appropriate to follow the PhD path. Finishing a BSN degree has always been the first step for me as a nursing professional, and I have always known I would take it further beyond this. Deciding where I see myself in the future is the most challenging part of deciding which path is right for me, though. My nursing career stemmed from a passion for birth work, and midwifery, so nurse-midwife always seemed like the end goal that was meant for me. As I have recently taken on a position in a busy women’s hospital on the labor floor, I am still unsure if this is still the right path for me. In the event that I do pursue midwifery, then the DNP route will be most appropriate for me after I’ve obtained my MSN. “MSN-prepared nurses practicing in an advanced role (i.e., nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, CRNA) who wish to expand their knowledge base and achieve a terminal degree to enhance their practice would benefit from choosing the DNP path” (, 2020) . (2020). What’s the Difference Between a PhD and DNP in Nursing? DNP vs PhD in nursingRetrieved from


 Topic 3 DQ 2

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) an advanced degree in nursing, focuses on implementing research and advancement of nursing practice through application of new principles/theories in nursing practice. This prepare the nurse to be expert clinicians that apply advanced theories to nursing care that will improve patient outcomes, (Thomas, 2018). The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing focuses on the discovery of new practices in nursing through testing of new researched principles and theories to advance/impact nursing as a profession, Thomas, (2018). The need for  advanced nursing education and by extension, advanced knowledge, contributed to availability of faculty at the university level to teach nursing courses. The 2010 report of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended the need for these advanced levels in nursing education, Whitney, (2018) to move nursing forward as a profession and impacting healthcare reform.

In my future studies at this point in my thought process I would be interested in a DNP program that would improve my functioning as a clinician and still would enable be to precept confidently, new nurses that would assist with current evidenced-based practices being administered to patients impacting patient outcomes and healthcare by extension.


Thomas, J. (2018). Professional Development in Nursing. In Trends in Health Care: A Nursing Perspective [1] (1st ed.). Retrieved from

Whitney, S. (2018). The Future of Nursing in an Evolving Health Care System. In Trends in Health Care: A Nursing Perspective [1] (1st ed.). Retrieved from  DNP vs PhD in nursing


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