Inspiration to Get a DNP Degree
To DNP or not to DNP, that is the question.
I am an adult nurse practitioner currently working with a vast array of multiple socioeconomic status, multicultural, multilingual and indigent populations, diagnosing and treating breast cancer patients and survivors. The outpatient clinic is in urban Detroit, and is a research-based teaching hospital that is accredited by the National Cancer Institute, one of an elite 40 in the country.
The process of obtaining my MSN and subsequent NP licensure facilitated my personal goal to obtain my doctoral degree. This process opened my eyes to the innate set of challenges and unique facets of the nursing profession. As I was acquiring the MSN and throughout my DNP experience, it has not ceased to amaze me that nursing is the only profession with a multitude of entry-level educational requirements. This dilemma first points to the need to define nursing as a profession or merely a “job.” Historically, nurses have been seen as “physicians' helpers,” dependent upon the medical and other disciplines for our mere existence in the healthcare arena. There are no other disciplines and professions that have constantly been under the “thumb” and direction of another discipline. Medicine has historically thought itself the guide and director of nursing, sometimes to our advantage, but vastly to our loss. The paternal relationship between medicine and nursing has stifled our progression and professional autonomy, while at the same time, created an environment of nursing dependent upon another profession for direction and guidance. As I look at other nurses, and even advanced practice nurses, I am constantly reminded of these truths through such beliefs and statements as, “Nursing needs to be more medically focused,” and “We don’t need all of that nursing theory, what a waste of time.” How can we, as a nursing profession, develop and grow in our own right, discipline and thought without a theoretically defined base identifying who and what we are?
The issue of our autonomy as a profession is answered in the development of a standardized terminal nursing degree. The DNP is the standardization of the nursing discipline, and will provide a theoretic al, research and practice focused nursing role, giving us parity with other positions. It is imperative we rely on our own discipline for autonomy, meaning, direction and focus. The DNP degree will provide excellence in healthcare provision, unparalelled to previous nursing care.
I picture nursing as a journey, rolling through the current maze that is the healthcare system. The power of the journey is nursing theory to guide and navigate our practice as an independent practice discipline. We have struggled for autonomy and independence since well before the days of Florence Nightingale who championed this effort on our behalf. The question she and we continue to ask is, are we a job or a profession? The doctor of nursing practice degree will hopefully and finally legitimize nursing as an autonomous discipline in its own right, providing true collaboration with other professions, not direction under other professions. We are nurses.Let’s "roll on" in this healthcare journey.
Editor's note: Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This question is answered by blogger Catherine Nichols, MSN, ANP-BC, a DNP student and adult nurse practitioner. Comment below to discuss this topic, or send new questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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