The American Association of Colleges of Nursing recently released findings of a national study conducted by the RAND Corporation, which examined the progress made by nursing schools in transitioning to the practice doctorate a solution advanced 10 years ago to better meet the nations healthcare needs. In the report, authors found almost universal agreement among nurse educators about the value of the DNP degree in preparing individuals for advanced nursing practice, according to a news release.
The RAND study showcases widespread support for the DNP while pointing the way toward future action, AACN President Eileen T. Breslin, PhD, RN, FAAN, said in the release. AACN is pleased to see growth in the number of schools with the practice doctorate and will continue to work with stakeholders as we move toward the desired state of full adoption of the DNP by schools offering advanced nursing practice degrees.
In 2004, member schools affiliated with AACN voted to endorse the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, which called for moving the level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the masters degree to the doctorate by the target year 2015. Even though schools have moved rapidly to offer the DNP, AACN acknowledges all schools will not be able to fully transition their masters-level programs to the practice doctorate by next year and many schools are electing to maintain both masters and DNP options to prepare advanced practice registered nurses, according to the release.
The AACN Board of Directors commissioned the RAND Corporation to conduct a national survey of nursing schools with APRN programs to identify the barriers and facilitators to offering a post-baccalaureate DNP. Barriers identified by schools transitioning to DNP include a lack of faculty, costs and budgetary concerns; insufficient clinical sites; and resource challenges associated with overseeing DNP scholarly projects, according to the surveys findings. The requirement of the DNP for certification and accreditation was identified as an important factor in a schools decision to transition fully to the BSN-DNP.
The study authors found near universal agreement among nursings academic leaders regarding the value of DNP education in preparing nurses to serve in four APRN roles; specifically, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, certified registered nurse anesthetists and certified nurse-midwives.
To facilitate the continued transition to the DNP, the report authors recommend AACN conduct outcome studies to assess the impact DNP graduates are having on patient care and healthcare; provide outreach and data to employers showing the value-added benefits of recruiting DNP-prepared nurses; showcase success strategies that can be used by schools to overcome challenges, including securing clinical sites; and provide greater clarity and guidance around the DNP final project, acording to the release.
AACN is fully committed to advancing solutions and creative ways to mitigate the challenges facing schools wishing to offer the DNP as well as to educating employers and students about the benefits of the practice doctorate to systems innovation and, more importantly, patient care, Breslin said in the release.
The RAND study is titled The DNP by 2015: A Study of the Institutional, Political, and Professional Issues that Facilitate or Impede Establishing a Post-Baccalaureate Doctor of Nursing Practice Program and is available on the AACNs web site at www.aacn.nche.edu/DNP/DNP-Study.pdf.