Benefits of the DNP
Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and
answer them as best we can. DNP Answers blogger Scott Governo, NP, answers
the following question.
Q: “What are the benefits of having [the DNP] versus the master's degree?”
(from Reader Timbolin D. Holmes, who asked us on Facebook)
A: The benefits of having the DNP versus the Master’s degree are both personal and professional.
I have always wished to challenge myself professionally and academically. Healthcare is rapidly changing and quality healthcare is hard to deliver in an environment that is being pulled in so many different directions politically, financially and structurally.
I chose to seek the doctorate to learn new knowledge and skills in the fields of leadership, philosophy, program evaluation, business and the theoretical basis of nursing care, to name a few. These are also taught in many master's programs, however for me the DNP degree has deepened my knowledge by looking at these concepts in a synergistic fashion. I feel that it has allowed me to take a new and fresh look at the care I deliver and to widen my perspectives. Personally, I feel that the clinical doctorate will be the culmination of my educational experience in nursing. Not that one ever stops learning, but I feel I will now have better tools to learn with. Asking the hard questions and seeking the true answers.
Professionally, the clinical doctorate has been a long time coming. Some in academia feel that our master’s programs have become so over expanded that the evolution to a clinical doctorate was inevitable. Many NPs today have taken on the roles traditionally held by physicians. A clinical doctorate is one way to continue to educate and prepare our nursing graduates for the daunting task of delivering high-quality healthcare.
Politically, some may feel that a doctorate degree can “level the playing field” when it comes to healthcare organizations and other related professionals. Striving toward our highest clinical level of education can only help when working with interdisciplinary groups. The lay public may have confusion initially, but most want you to be well prepared and experienced, regardless of your title. If they do need education regarding your new role, teach them. Who does it better than nurses?
Ultimately it is a personal choice. I think for me it was the right one, although not yet a graduate, I am waiting to see if my perceptions of the degree transition meet the reality of its acceptance. My only advice is that if someone you know chooses to get additional education and training, support them. The most troublesome comments I have heard have been with elements within nursing. How short-sighted we are. If you look back you will find many of the same tired arguments used in the discussions about the baccalaureate degree for nursing decades ago. Have we not learned? Support your nursing colleagues wherever they find themselves in their career. It can only help our profession in the long run. Will there ever be a time in our future when we think we no longer need to learn? I hope not.
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