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The Growth of DNP Programs

In an effort to better serve the population’s healthcare needs, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing Report (2010) recommended employing double the number of nurses with doctoral degrees by 2020. As a result of this push for more evidenced-based, high-quality care, the growth of DNP programs has increased.

According to the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the purpose of the doctorate in nursing practice is to enhance advanced practice roles to prepare experts in population-based practice, leadership and policy. These degree holders will be the leaders not only in nursing but also in healthcare in general.

Putting Research into Practice

In accordance with the IOM’s findings, the need for nurses with a doctorate in nursing practice degree has increased. As a result, from 2012 to 2013, enrollments in DNP programs increased by 21.6 percent. This demand for more DNP programs stems from nurses seeking the knowledge to practice with the same expertise as many of their peers in other health professions, such as pharmacists, physical therapists and physicians. The ultimate goal of the DNP program is a terminal degree that fully implements the science developed by other researchers into nursing practice.

Professional Endorsement

Many professional organizations have fully endorsed the doctorate in nursing practice as a necessary degree for advanced practice nurses; the Council for Accreditation “supports doctoral education for entry into nurse anesthesia practice by 2025.” This endorsement trend includes the administrators and assistant administrators of such programs, who also need to hold a doctorate in nursing practice by 2018. Additionally, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners recognizes the doctorate in nursing practice as the requisite degree for nurse practitioners. As professional regard for the degree continues to grow, many programs are transitioning to meet this new standard. Some nursing schools, including the School of Nursing at University of North Florida, are now offering the advanced degree online.

As nurses continue to face increases in patient care, they will need further education and advanced degrees to keep pace with healthcare developments. The complexity of patient care will require highly trained and specialized providers, a need which DNP programs will meet.

Learn more about the UNF online DNP program.


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