The Practice Doctorate: Innovation or Disruption?

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Advanced practice nurses, particularly nurse practitioners, have been described as a disruptive innovation. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has proposed that by 2015 all advanced practice nurses be prepared with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This article uses critical reflection on published literature to examine the potential difficulties that mandating such a change may present to potential students, practicing advanced practice nurses, colleges of nursing, and doctoral education in general.

After considering the pressures in the nursing profession to prepare nurse faculty and reviewing the success of current models of education for advanced practice, we explore in depth the unintended consequences of the AACN recommendation. Implications for academic nursing, curriculum, advanced practice nurses, doctoral education, titling and licensure, economic issues, and the lack of evaluation research are addressed. We recommend abandoning the 2015 deadline for implementation of advanced practice nurse preparation with the DNP.

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