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The Evolution of Doctoral Nursing Education

Summary and Evaluation: (Dobrowolska et al., 2021)

This article provides a high-level overview of empirical studies on PhD nursing programs published between 2009 and 2019. The purpose of this review was to chart the territory covered by research on doctoral programs in nursing and highlight the contentious problems that have arisen therein. The Donabedian paradigm was used for the analysis because of its emphasis on program structure, procedure, and outcomes. Forty-one papers were analyzed, biased toward those published in the United States and Europe. Students and teachers’ perspectives were gathered mostly using descriptive research methods. The issues that were looked into include the following: the requirements for doctoral candidates; the qualifications of faculty members; resources and quality of postgraduate programs; mentoring and supervision; academic performance outcomes, and challenges faced by doctoral graduates; and challenges faced by doctoral graduates. The article’s authors conclude that there need to be more rigorous studies to evaluate the efficacy of PhD nursing programs and that most existing research is descriptive. There is no obvious international cooperation among academics, and doctoral programs vary widely from country to country. Reports indicate that the framework and procedures of these programs have remained static throughout the years, failing to keep up with the growing expectations of the fields of nursing and related disciplines and practices.

Summary and Evaluation (McCauley et al., 2020)

The article delves into the reasons why a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) rather than a master’s degree has not become the minimum requirement for APRNs in the United States. The writers, who are deans at prestigious nursing schools, use their combined knowledge and a synthesis of the relevant literature to examine new information on PhD education in nursing from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The report cites a number of obstacles that have slowed the widespread implementation of the DNP as the minimum qualification for advanced practice registered nurses. Using COVID-19 as an example, the authors show how DNP graduates may help the health system and stress the importance of stakeholder support for this transformation (McCauley et al., 2020). The study continues by emphasizing the need for further action to ensure the Doctor of Nursing Practice’s (DNP) status as the pinnacle of nursing education and practice is widely recognized. The authors claim that the obstacles to adopting a universal DNP standard can be solved with a clear and consistent communications approach, accreditation and certification adjustments, and student financial assistance.

Summary and evaluation (Rosenfeld et al., 2021)

The study examines the demographic, educational, occupational, and practice features of RNs with a doctoral degree in a single practice context, as well as their professional practice patterns and achievements in the field. Roughly 100 RNs with doctoral degrees were surveyed from a large health network. The study indicated that DNPs are three times as common as PhDs at the institution and that DNPs are also younger and more likely to work in advanced practice nursing roles. On the other hand, doctoral holders tend to be older and more experienced in leadership roles. The paper stresses that there is a scant indication that either nurses or administrators appreciate the value of RNs with doctoral degrees. This is especially true for Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) holders, as they tend to work in clinical settings where RNs with master’s degrees also work (Rosenfeld et al., 2021) In order to further define the value of doctorally qualified nurses in clinical settings, the authors recommend that those who support the expansion of DNP programs in both academia and practice work together.


Dobrowolska, B., Chruściel, P., Pilewska-Kozak, A., Mianowana, V., Monist, M., & Palese, A. (2021). Doctoral programmes in the nursing discipline: A scoping review. BMC Nursing, 20, 228.

McCauley, L. A., Broome, M. E., Frazier, L., Hayes, R., Kurth, A., Musil, C. M., Norman, L. D., Rideout, K. H., & Villarruel, A. M. (2020). Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in the United States: Reflecting, readjusting, and getting back on track. Nursing Outlook, 68(4), 494-503. doi: 10.1016/j.outlook.2020.03.008. PMID: 32561157; PMCID: PMC7161484.

Rosenfeld, P., Glassman, K., Vetter, M., & Smith, B. (2021). A comparative study of PhD and DNP nurses in an integrated health care system. Journal of Professional Nursing, Advance online publication.


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