March 27, 2006
response by Lori L. Ellis on The Need for Some Sense Making: Doctor of Nursing Practice by Janet S. Fulton, PhD, RN; Brenda L. Lyon, DNS, RN (September 30, 2005)
with reply by Authors
This letter is in response to the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) topic. I have been a nurse for eleven years and a family nurse practitioner for three of those years. I am currently enrolled in a DNP program at the University of Tennessee - Memphis, Health Science Center. Perhaps my opinion is an oversimplification of the issue, but I fail to see the perspective of Fulton and Lyon who state they are "confused" by the aims of this degree. To me it is clear that a practice doctorate signifies that one has an expertise in clinical practice, as opposed, for example to a doctorate in education, which indicates one has an expertise in education. I also fail to see the logic in the argument that this degree may be pulling students away from the PhD degree. Many nurses, like myself, have no aspirations to be a nurse researchers. I do value the work of nurse researchers, desire to utilize their research findings in practice, and believe it is unfortunate that the work of nurse researchers has not been used more fully in developing our clinical practice guidelines. However, doing nursing research is not my goal. My goal is independent practice. The DNP prepares the NP for autonomous practice by increasing the level of clinical expertise. There is another advantage of the DNP over the PhD for NPs in independent practice. I believe that if any degree will assist in improving NP reimbursement from managed care organizations (MCOs), it is the practice doctorate. A PhD does not have the power to motivate MCOs to increase reimbursement that the DNP has. Nursing has always been a profession of considerable diversity; the ability to unify in our diversity would be a welcomed change.
Lori L. Ellis, MSN, APRN-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner