Nursing education gains popularity in the modern world and the United States, in particular, which results in the development of multiple doctoral programs and training courses. In general, there are two basic types of education: research-focused and practice-focused (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, n.d.a). Both of them have a number of strong aspects, benefits for students, and concerns for discussion. In this paper, attention will be paid to the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) and the Doctor of Nursing Science degree (DNS), their differences, and similarities.
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In the field of nursing, doctoral programs play an important role as their goal is to make sure students develop the necessary skills and knowledge. The major similarity between DNS and PhD is their designation as terminal doctorate degrees in the same course. Another common feature is the intention to prepare nurses for their further improvement and their work in different healthcare settings. Finally, both of them may have similar resources like access to financial aid, information, and technology and the possibility to exchange knowledge in the chosen fields. However, these characteristics are usually not enough to understand the essence of both DNP and PhD.
The investigation of Ketefian and Redman (2015) promoted the discussion of graduates’ employability and effectiveness. Pressing health problems and the increase in patient population as per the Affordable Care Act cannot be ignored in society (Ketefian & Redman, 2015). DNP and PhD nurses are trained to solve existing healthcare challenges and achieve positive health outcomes. The history of these degrees, their focuses, and outcomes prove the need for such a division in nursing education.
Differences between DNP and PhD degrees create a significant challenge for future nurses in their education. The point is that program emphasis varies, depending on a health education concentration (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, n.d.b). Students must make a serious decision for their careers – if they want to focus on the practice or science of nursing. DNP nurses develop a commitment to practice, and PhD nurses are committed to research (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, n.d.a).
In addition to this difference, the goals of DNP and PhD nurses have to be admitted. In case of DNP-oriented education, students are prepared as practicing nurses who apply research into practice. PhD nurses learn how to conduct research and contribute to theoretical and empirical foundations in the field. Finally, competencies and content of the chosen doctoral degrees vary and have to be taken into consideration. Nurses with DNP degrees use their skills to integrate and dissimilate new knowledge and processes in healthcare organizations. Nurses with PhD degrees choose analytical and theoretical approaches to promoted discovery in healthcare and nursing practice.
The evaluation of nursing education and degrees in today’s society is a good opportunity to understand the directions in nursing practice. On the one hand, there is a chance for students to become successful nursing researchers and use discoveries and observations to strengthen theoretical aspects of practice. In this case, PhD-related programs are chosen and promoted among nurses. On the other hand, there are DNP programs where students focus on the development of new practical knowledge and succeed in caring for individuals. However, despite the existing differences, it is hard to say what experience, PhD or DNP, is more appropriate. Both degrees are critical for the development of doctoral education and nursing practice, and the United States is the country where the profession of a nurse is properly recognized and respected with much funding being offered.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d.a). DNP education. Web.
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American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (n.d.b). PhD education. Web.
Ketefian, S., & Redman, R. W. (2015). A critical examination of developments in nursing doctoral education in the United States. Revista Latino-Americana de Enfermagem, 23(3), 363-371. Web.