Landing a Teaching Job With a DNP Degree
Q: As a DNP student, I am curious about the idea that DNP graduates will struggle to land teaching roles in academic settings because they do not hold a PhD. I have read several different conversations that allude to this and in discussions with my classmates as well as colleagues, there seems to be a general sense that DNP-prepared nurses may indeed be a second choice over a PhD for academic positions.
A: Although there are some programs that do prepare PhD and DNP graduates very well for the faculty role, in my humble opinion, the typical DNP and PhD graduates are equally ill prepared for the faculty role. Both typically need to attain additional teaching experience and training in educational theory. That said, I think that DNP-prepared nurse will not struggle to land teaching positions any more than their PhD counterparts.
Certainly there are more factors that influence one’s fit with a faculty position aside from the academic preparation such as the basic requirements of that specific faculty position. For instance, if the position is for a researcher, the DNP prepared faculty member may not be the right person since the typical preparation for DNPs is not as a researcher. However if the position is for a faculty member to teach in clinically focused courses for example, the DNP candidate may be a great fit. Other things that may influence the fit for a position (no matter if PhD or DNP) include factors such as teaching experience, potential and ability; scholarly productivity; history of innovation and grand funding; leadership experience and potential; professional or university service; and clinical expertise.
I am confident that DNP-prepared faculty members will increasingly be embraced in higher education. I say this with a great deal of confidence from my own personal experience as a DNP in educator and administrator roles for more than a decade. As the director of an MSN program and member of a faculty search committee, I clearly see the value DNP-prepared faculty members bring to the classroom, the significant contributions they make to the university, and impact they make in clinical practice and scholarship.
When I came to Duke University School of Nursing, I was the first and only DNP-prepared faculty member here. Three years later, we have more than 15 DNP-prepared full-time faculty. Prior to Duke, I taught at a college where I was a tenured faculty member and roughly 25% of the nursing faculty held a DNP.
The DNP-prepared faculty member brings a great deal to an academic setting. DNP-prepared faculty are clinician scholars and educators of clinicians. They have expert clinical knowledge and skills and can serve as role models for nursing students at all levels. It is recognized that the DNP’s clinical expertise and DNP education informs their work in the classroom. The increased number of DNPs who are choosing to remain in or newly enter educator roles is helping to broadly address the shortage of nurse faculty across the United States.
I believe that DNPs are scholar clinicians, clinical experts and experts in the translation of the evidence into clinical practice. We, DNP educators, are in a rich position to serve effectively as faculty in schools of nursing.
Editor's note: At the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This post is written by blogger Michael Zychowicz, DNP, ANP-C, ONP-C, FAANP, chairman for master's programs at Duke University School of Nursing. Comment below to discuss this topic, or send new questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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