DNP and Ph.D.

In most occasions, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is often confused with Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). While the two doctoral programs are terminal nursing degrees, they also differ quite a bit. Ideally, in the most general terms, the DNP is a clinical practice degree, while the Ph.D. is a research-based degree. With regard to course work and completion of each level, the requirements also differ greatly. For instance, for DNP students are expected to complete a clinical project, and demonstrate intricate knowledge about evidence-based practices (Chism, 2016). In addition, DNP program emphasizes on clinical and leadership skills. Mostly, graduates of this program translate nursing research into evidence-based standards of care. They also become integrated into interdisciplinary care teams and focus on the evaluation of outcomes among certain patient demographics. On the other hand, Chism notes that, Ph.D. students focus on original research and methodologies and must complete a final research project and defend their dissertation to a panel of evaluators. Students who attain the Ph.D. program are also more likely to get jobs in either education or research.

Personal Reflection

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For the longest time now, Ph.D. has been the traditional doctoral degree in nursing. However, as Loomis, Willard, & Cohen (2006) note, nurses now have a choice between Ph.D. and the DNP degree. As a nursing student, I believe that the DNP is more appropriate for my professional and personal goals. More precisely, this is because the DNP is clinically oriented considering the doctoral education and choices of educational pathways the program offers nurses for their professional career. In addition to the above, by choosing the DNP in nursing, I believe that will help me to attain the position of a nurse leader in an interdisciplinary health care team and enable me to work towards improving systems of care, quality, and patient safety.


Chism, L. A. (2016). The doctor of nursing practice: A guidebook for role development and professional issues.

Loomis, J. A., Willard, B., & Cohen, J. (2006). Difficult professional choices: deciding between the PhD and the DNP in nursing. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 12(1), 6.

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