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Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in Reflections


The American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN] (2006) offers a comprehensive overview of the essentials of Doctoral Education for nurses. In particular, the Essential VIII, which is termed “Advanced Nursing Practice,” states that a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program needs to develop the following competencies in its students.

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First, the essential introduces the ability to conduct health and illness assessment and “design, implement, and evaluate” interventions, employing culturally appropriate approaches and a variety of skills, including analytical ones and systems thinking (AACN, 2006, pp. 16-17).

Moreover, the essential includes interpersonal skills: a DNP should be prepared to develop and maintain relationships with patients and colleagues and use these relationships to educate and guide the colleagues towards improved care and patients towards improved health. The present paper uses the AACN (2006) essential to reflect on the NR702 course. It concludes that the course has been helpful in the development of all of the mentioned competencies and views AACN (2006) as a valuable assessment and planning mechanism.


The activities of this course have been aimed at the ongoing development of my DNP project. This process involved my collaboration with the nurses and administration of the VEGA medical center, and I suggest viewing this process as a step towards the advancement of my interpersonal skills, especially those pertaining to the third sub-essential, which is the development of relationships between nurses and other stakeholders.

Moreover, the project will involve me carrying out the activities described by the fifth and sixth sub-essentials (guiding nurses towards excellence and guiding groups and individuals through certain transitions), and the course included the development of plans for the process.

Therefore, the project helped me to consider interpersonal skills described by AACN (2006). I have never viewed my interpersonal skills as lacking, but their active and reflective maintenance and development are important, which is why I intend to proceed to reflect on them during the upcoming courses, which will involve carrying out the plans made during the NR702 course.

The fourth and seventh sub-essentials describe the skills that I am less confident in using, which is why I keep employing my ongoing education for their development. For example, the project involves an organizational change, which provided me with an opportunity to apply a variety of skills in finding the links between practice and organizational issues. Also, the task of organizational needs assessment seems to have trained me in employing systems thinking and analytical skills.

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Apart from that, my conceptual and analytical skills were at work when designing the study and conducting research for it. Both activities are going to be recurrent during my future courses, and I will use this opportunity to apply the skills pertinent to the fourth and seventh sub-essentials and reflect on their use.

In the process of study design, I used multiple sources, but one of them is especially noteworthy. The paper by Hanrahan et al. (2015) considers organizational change and demonstrates that it is possible to merge the two practice change models that my project employs. This example is illustrative of the way a blend of different approaches to a problem can produce better solutions to it. As a result, this article contributed to the development of the fourth and seventh of the mentioned sub-essentials in my education.

Another activity that required the application of my analytical skills was the research of the topic of depression management, which culminated in the choice of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence [NICE] (2016) guidelines. Moreover, the demonstration of their quality also required additional research of various approaches to depression screening and management. As a result of these studies, I have expanded my knowledge of this condition and its management, which should help me in conducting assessments and performing interventions for patients with depression. For example, I discovered the benefits of stepped care (Straten, Hill, Richards, & Cuijpers, 2015).

Also, I obtained extensive evidence of the fact that cognitive-behavioral therapy and intrapersonal therapy are very similar in their outcomes, which makes them conveniently interchangeable (Lemmens et al., 2015; Lemmens, DeRubeis, Arntz, Peeters, & Huibers, 2016). Therefore, the project has indirectly contributed to me improving the skills pertinent to the first and second mentioned sub-essentials, although this contribution is limited to depression. Since the process of project development is not directly connected to health assessment and intervention design, this limitation is understandable.

It is noteworthy that NICE (2016) offers an interesting approach to guidelines: in addition to the textual format, it provides a toolkit with flowcharts for decision-making, which appear to be user-friendly. As a result, NICE (2016) has provided me with some ideas on how to present pertinent information to nurses and other individuals who might need health-related education, which is consistent with the fifth and sixth sub-essentials. In summary, a quick reflection shows that the NR702 course has contributed to the advancement of the skills and knowledge pertinent to all the sub-essentials described by AACN (2006) for Essential VIII.


AACN’s (2006) Essential VIII can serve as a tool in determining my progress throughout the NR702 course. In particular, Essential VIII demonstrates that the process of project development has assisted me in enhancing the skills pertinent to all the seven sub-essentials either directly or indirectly; my conceptual and analytical skills seem to have been practiced especially extensively. Moreover, the tool indicates the areas that were less actively developed and helps me to determine the skills that I need to focus on during future courses. Thus, AACN’s (2006) essentials are helpful in assessing and planning DNP education.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2006). The essentials of doctoral education for advance nursing practice. Washington, DC: Author.

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Hanrahan, K., Wagner, M., Matthews, G., Stewart, S., Dawson, C., Greiner, J.,… Williamson, A. (2015). Sacred cow gone to pasture: A systematic evaluation and integration of evidence-based practice. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing, 12(1), 3-11. Web.

Lemmens, L. H. J. M., Arntz, A., Peeters, F. P. M. L., Hollon, S. D., Roefs, A., & Huibers, M. J. H. (2015). Clinical effectiveness of cognitive therapy v. interpersonal psychotherapy for depression: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 45(10), 2095-2110. Web.

Lemmens, L., DeRubeis, R., Arntz, A., Peeters, F., & Huibers, M. (2016). Sudden gains in Cognitive Therapy and Interpersonal Psychotherapy for adult depression. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 77, 170-176. Web.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2016). Depression in adults: Recognition and management. Web.

Straten, A., Hill, J., Richards, D. A., & Cuijpers, P. (2015). Stepped care treatment delivery for depression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 45(2), 231-246. Web.

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