What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice?

You may have noticed that some of your nurses now have Doctor on their name tag. This isn’t a typo or mistake. In fact, the standard education for a clinical, advanced practice nurse is changing. Instead of earning a master’s degree, many advance practice nurses (nurse practitioners, for example) will earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree or the DNP.

A  Doctor of Nursing Practice degree represents a nurse who has completed rigorous, graduate-level education with a clinical practice focus.  DNPs work as nurse practitioners, certified registered nurse anesthetists, certified nurse midwives and clinical nurse specialists. You may find DNPs working as primary care providers in clinics and hospitals.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is similar to the degrees that pharmacists, optometrists, audiologists  and physical therapists now earn. The degree symbolizes a professional, healthcare provider who has completed the highest level of education for their field and has substantial experience treating patients in a clinical specialty.

Be sure to look for DNPs the next time you go for a check-up or a sick visit and know that you are receiving exceptional care!

Sylvia T. Brown, EdD, RN, CNE
Dean, ECU College of Nursing