NRS 440 Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing

NRS 440 Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing

NRS 440 Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing

A DNP and PhD are both advanced degree programs that requiring increased schooling and advancements is a person knowledge in the field in which they are prating. “For decades the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) degree has been referred to as practice focused whereas the PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) has been identified as research focused” (Radzyminski,.2023). A DNP or a doctorate in nursing practice is a degree obtained above a masters in nursing sciences. This can allow for greater opportunity and growth within the medical field. An example of a role requiring a DNP is a nursing leader that does research and works on innovations aimed at heling advance medical practices and the nursing profession. “The role of nursing was deemed crucial in transforming health care delivery and improving patient outcomes. Nurses educated at the doctoral level can achieve these goals due to their ability to evaluate through research, accumulate the evidence for best practices, and design the context through which care is delivered” (Radzyminski,.2023). A PhD is a degree that establishes a person to have a doctorate in philosophy. This type of degrees is often utilized in jobs such as pharmacology and biochemical research. “The top five disciplines in our sample are Biological sciences, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering and Medical Sciences” (Manta,2022). These two roles help create greater advancements in the medicinal management we provide and the patient care we give and therefor have a direct influence and impact on the interdisciplinary team. Most acute care settings have many leadership roles filled with people with increased education and advancements in their degrees to the doctoral level.


Mantai, Lilia; Marrone, Mauricio. Studies in Higher Education. Nov2022, Vol. 47 Issue 11, p2273-2286. 14p. 5 Charts, 3 Graphs. DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2022.2061444. , Database: Education Research Complete

Radzyminski, Sharon. In Journal of Professional Nursing. January-February 2023 44:33-37 Language: English. DOI: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2022.11.003, Database: ScienceDirect

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A Doctor of Nurse Practice (DNP) and a Doctor of Philosophy in nursing (PhD) have similarities in that they are both research focused. However, having a PhD in nursing means that the research that is done is research that is original. Meaning, the PhD of nursing is finding groundbreaking research that will create new processes in healthcare. PhD grads are “prepared for careers as nurse scholars to conduct research that advances the discipline of nursing, health, and health care quality” (Johns Hopkins University, 2022). DNP grads are prepared “to become expert clinicians by applying research and knowledge to create more efficient practices and better patient outcomes” (Thomas, 2018). The DNP program involves research, but the difference is that the DNP uses the research and evidence-based processes created by the PhD. The DNP is focused on “quality improvement” and improved patient outcomes. 

NRS 440 Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing
NRS 440 Discuss the difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing

While a DNP prepared NP can wear many hats in education, management, acute care, and primary care, they can also be Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). These advanced practice nurses fully practice to the “extent of their license” and work among physicians and surgeons in the surgical setting (American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology [AANA], 2018). CRNAs are responsible for anesthesia needs during surgical cases. They intubate patients and place central and arterial lines prior to surgery. CRNAs are involved in the leadership of interdisciplinary teams. CRNAs offer “leadership and expertise in the interdisciplinary team though relationships, clear communication, shared goal creation and decision-making” (American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology [AANA], 2018). Further, they are able to promote patient safety and satisfaction by introducing improved anesthesia care treatments.  


American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology [AANA] (2018). Patient-driven interdisciplinary practice.

Johns Hopkins University (2022). Nursing, doctor of philosophy: School of nursing.

Thomas, J. (2018). Professional development in nursing. In GCU’s: Trends in healthcare: A nursing perspective.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) defined the DNP degree’s objective as a practice-based doctorate that trains students to be leaders in a variety of practice areas, such as interdisciplinary care, quality improvement, patient safety, and information technology utilization. It is crucial that there be consistency regarding the content of DNP training programs and how DNP graduates are prepared to perform in the contemporary healthcare system because the DNP degree is currently recognized as the terminal degree for the practicing nurse. The Task Force’s study makes clear the difference between PhD programs that are practice- and research-focused. Although the translation, application, and evaluation of scientific knowledge have historically been central to DNP projects, the AACN Task Force recognizes that DNP program graduates may also be equipped to create new knowledge using approaches that differ from those used in research-based programs. Practice change initiatives, evidence translation, and the application of quality improvement procedures for groups are some of these techniques. Such approaches might benefit people who are suffering from a variety of diseases. 

Reid Ponte, P., & Nicholas, P. K. (2015). Addressing the confusion related to dns, dnsc, and dsn degrees, with lessons for the nursing profession. Journal of Nursing Scholarship47(4), 347–353. 

The DNP degree was created to prepare APRNs (i.e., clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners [NPs], nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists) for leadership in clinical practice (McCauley, et al.,2020). There are over 250 Doctor of Nursing Practice degree programs throughout the United States. The DNP and Ph.D. are two of the highest levels of degrees in the nursing profession, considered terminal. The Doctor of Philosophy has the focus of advancing the profession with research and knowledge. Only the DNP students must complete the Capstone clinical practicum course during their educational pursuit. The salaries of each nursing position differ, but it also depends on if the nurse is working with patients or working as a instructor. The DNP nurse is seeking a role in leadership and the Ph.D. nurse is pursuing research or an academia positions. The DNP and Ph.D. have the responsibility in and out of the clinical setting to work together as a team to ensure quality and safety of patient care. Nurses at all levels must be actively involved, not only in providing and monitoring the best patient outcome but must share best practices learned across all the interdisciplinary departments in healthcare. Major factors that affect collaboration include communication, respect and trust, unequal power, understanding professional roles, and task prioritizing (Jenkins, 2021). The DNP and Ph.D. aligned together can gain insight into change processes about how care is delivered and the outcomes produced by that care with interdisciplinary collaboration. It is important to improve the accessibility of quality healthcare in all settings, including the classrooms.


Jenkins, D. (2021). How Nurses are Enhancing Interprofessional Collaboration in Today’s Healthcare Marketplace. The Nurse Speak.

McCauley, L.,Broome, M.,Frazier, L.,Hayes, R.,Kurth, Ann.,Musil, C.,Norman, L.,Rideout, K.,Villarruel, A. (2020). Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree in the United States: Reflecting, readjusting, and getting back on track. National Library of Medicine. National Center for Biotechnology Information. Nursing Outlook.

With the endorsement of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs by nursing education leaders (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2004), nurses seeking a terminal degree gained access to a new avenue for achieving doctoral education. Within the discipline, a general consensus has emerged regarding the differences and similarities between the long-established research doctorate, the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD), and the more recent DNP degree. Both programs prepare nurses to the highest level of knowledge and expertise in their respective foci, provide a pathway to organizational and policy leadership positions, and can serve as a springboard for a career in nursing education (Bednash, Breslin, Kirschling, & Rosseter, 2014).Because program goals differ, each approach is valuable and unique within the profession. The PhD prepares nurse scientists to develop research programs that advance the development of new knowledge, whereas the DNP prepares practice experts to apply and translate that knowledge into better direct patient care settings or nurse executive roles (Edwardson, 2010). To achieve the various goals, various curricula and program structures are required. The PhD curriculum, for example, emphasizes intense research content and lived research experiences, whereas the DNP curriculum emphasizes evidence-based clinical practice and health systems leadership (Melnyk, 2013). The PhD program prepares nurse leaders for scientific research careers. Students learn how to conduct nursing research and lead research teams, how to develop theory and contribute to the body of knowledge in nursing and the health sciences, and how to disseminate research findings through scholarly publications, presentations, and teaching.PhD program graduates work as nurse scientists in research or in positions of leadership in academic and non-academic settings. Recent PhD in Nursing graduates hold positions such as assistant professor, clinical research unit manager, faculty instructor, post-doctoral fellow, program director, co-founder, and chief nursing officer.

Edwardson, S. R. (2010). Doctor of philosophy and doctor of nursing practice as complementary degrees. Journal of Professional Nursing26(3), 137–140. Melnyk, B. (2013). Distinguishing the preparation and roles of doctor of philosophy and doctor of nursing practice graduates: National implications for academic curricula and health care systems. Journal of Nursing Education52(8), 442–448.

An advanced practice nurse, such as a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse administrator, needs to have a doctor of nursing practice (DNP), regarded as a terminal degree in nursing. The DNP focuses on using advanced practice skills and evidence-based research to raise the standard of patient care. Health policy, health informatics, health systems, research, and advanced clinical practice are frequently covered in the curriculum (Graves et al., 2021). A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing, on the other hand, focuses on research and prepares students to work as academics and researchers in the nursing field. In a PhD program, students will spend a significant amount of time writing and researching subjects like healthcare disparities, public health, and the creation of novel therapies and interventions (Neal-Boylan, 2020). Advanced statistics, data analysis, and research methodologies are frequently covered in the curriculum.

A nurse administrator is a position that calls for a DNP in nursing. The daily management of a healthcare facility, such as a hospital, clinic, or nursing home, is within the purview of nurse administrators. They are in charge of managing the workforce, developing and putting into practice rules and processes, and making sure the facility complies with local, state, and federal laws (Canady, 2021). A nurse administrator collaborates with other healthcare experts, including doctors, therapists, and social workers, in an interdisciplinary healthcare setting to ensure the facility gives its patients high-quality treatment. In addition, the nurse administrator is in charge of promoting patient rights and ensuring patient safety is a top priority.

Nurse administrators must also understand healthcare laws, regulations, and policies. The facility must keep up with healthcare trends and be flexible to provide high-quality care. Nurse administrators must prioritize patient safety and advocate for patient rights (Neal-Boylan, 2020). They must recognize and mitigate risks. Knowing patient rights and communicating with  patients and their families is necessary to meet patients’ needs. Nurse administrators ensure the hospital provides safe, high-quality treatment. They must collaborate with other healthcare professionals, keep up with industry changes, and advocate for patients. A DNP in nursing gives nurse administrators the knowledge and abilities they need.


Graves, L. Y., Tamez, P., Wallen, G. R., & Saligan, L. N. (2021). Defining the role of individuals prepared as a doctor of nurse practice in symptoms science research. Nursing Outlook69(4), 542-549.

Canady, K. (2021). Practical and philosophical considerations in choosing the DNP or PhD in nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing37(1), 163-168.

Neal-Boylan, L. (2020). PhD or DNP? That Is the Question. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners16(2), A5-A6.

DNP is an abbreviation for doctor of nursing practice. PhD stands for a doctor of philosophy. A DNP in nursing is a practice doctorate whereas a PhD is a research doctorate. A DNP is the highest qualification that can be earned by nurse practitioners (Ketefian & Redman, 2018). This advanced program prepares nurses for administrative and leadership roles in the clinical area. Unlike a PhD which takes a maximum of 6 years to complete the program, a DNP takes a shorter time. In a minimum of about 2 years and up to to 4 years, one can graduate with a DNP. Nurses training in DNP are mentored to be nurse leaders in the clinical and hospital areas where they order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and conduct physical examinations for patients (McCauley et al., 2020). They ensure that high quality care is rendered to patients in the clinical area. In terms of interdisciplinary collaboration, DNPs act as advocates for patients making sure that patients get the best possible care out of the competencies of experts from diverse health care disciplines. Holders of PhDs in nursing focus on research related to nurse. They produce the evidence that is used in evidence based practice in nursing. They develop theories, test them and conduct researches which they can disseminate mainly as publications in journals (Neal-Boylan, 2019). PhD holders contribute to the enlargement of the body of knowledge of nursing. Usually these people work in the classroom area as senior lecturers and professors. They teach nursing students, write grant proposals, grade student assignments, set examination papers and grade the examination results. PhD nurses are consultants in nursing. They provide professional information and advice related to nursing.


Ketefian, S., & Redman, R. W. (2018). A critical examination of developments in nursing doctoral education in the United States. Revista latino-americana de enfermagem, 23(3), 363–371.

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.

Neal-Boylan, L. (2019). PhD or DNP?. The Journal of Nurse Practitioners. 16(2), doi:

One of the few occupations is nursing, which is connected to two distinct terminal degrees: the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.). The earlier degree, a clinical doctorate, is intended for advanced practice nurses who are actively striving to enhance healthcare outcomes in healthcare settings and who are supporting the leadership role that nurses play in achieving those results. The latter degree is a doctorate with a research emphasis created to strengthen nursing practice’s scientific foundation (, 2023). Ph.D. graduates are capable of carrying out independent research and disseminating their findings. The DNP will equip graduates with the knowledge and abilities required to evaluate the information obtained from nursing research, assess how that research will affect their practice, and, if appropriate, adjust and improve the quality of care. Through the application of research and knowledge to improve practices and patient outcomes, the DNP focuses on preparing nurses to become expert clinicians. DNP-prepared nurses place more emphasis on putting new information and research into practice to advance improved patient outcomes and healthcare than PhD-prepared nurses do (Thomas, 2018).

To deal with these developments, nursing practitioners need to be prepared. A graduate nursing program’s terminal degree can give nurses not only the knowledge they need to keep up with the changes in the healthcare industry, but also the opportunity to become the trailblazers who promote these changes. Advanced nursing professionals can take advantage of the similarities and differences in their educational backgrounds by coordinating care across several disciplines, a process known as interprofessional collaboration, to attain the shared objective of high-quality healthcare (, 2022).


Collaboration in nursing among DNP- and Phd-educated nurses. Duquesne University School of Nursing. (2022, August 29). Retrieved January 9, 2023, from 

DNP vs. Ph.D. – 12 key differences between DNP and ph.D.. in nursing. DNP VS. Ph.D. in Nursing – 12 Key Differences. (2023). Retrieved from 

Thomas, J. (2018). Professional Development in Nursing. Trends in health care: A nursing perspective. Retrieved from 

The difference between a DNP and a Ph.D. in nursing is that the DNP is an advanced practice degree and the Ph.D. is considered a terminal one (Canady, 2021). Both can be useful in clinical and non-clinical settings, but they are most often used in clinical settings.

A DNP can be helpful for roles such as nurse practitioner, where you will work independently with patients and develop a treatment plan. A Ph.D. may be more helpful for roles like nurse educator or nurse researcher, where your work would be more focused on advancing knowledge in your field (Canady, 2021).

In essence, the Ph.D. in nursing prepares nurses for leadership roles within academia, such as professorships and research positions (Neal-Boylan, 2020). In these roles, they design courses of study for students, develop theories that explain phenomena in the field of nursing, and conduct research based on their views. They also teach students about these theories and how they apply them to real-world scenarios.

Also, the DNP is designed for nurses who want to work outside of academia, such as those interested in administration or consulting roles (Neal-Boylan, 2020). The purpose of a DNP is to prepare nurses for leadership roles within healthcare settings by giving them advanced knowledge in a specific area of practice or research (Neal-Boylan, 2020). For example, someone with a DNP in gerontological nursing would have studied gerontology (the science of aging) extensively so they could provide expert care for older adults.


Canady, K. (2021). Practical and philosophical considerations in choosing the DNP or PhD in nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing37(1), 163-168.

Neal-Boylan, L. (2020). PhD or DNP? That Is the Question. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners16(2), A5-A6.

DNP and Ph.D. are advanced nursing degrees requiring extensive education, skills, knowledge and clinical practice experience. The two degrees differ based on skills emphasis, completion time, complexity and application in healthcare. DNP emphasizes clinical practice, management and policy development, while Ph.D. in nursing emphasizes nursing research and research related roles and scholarship. Ph.D. nurses are often used in curriculum development and evaluation. At the end of their degree studies, DNPs do a capestone project emphasizing clinical practice, while Ph. D. nurses do a dissertation emphasizing nursing research (Canady et al., 2021). The Ph.D. program is a highly mentored and monitored teaching experience, while DNP degrees place more emphasis on clinical practices. The Ph.D. degree takes a considerably more extended period than the DNP program. The roles and responsibilities assigned to professionals vary for the two degrees. DNP assigned roles such as leading teams, managing care teams, planning and developing healthcare policy. In contrast, Ph.D. nurses responsibilities are inclined to research and scholarly activities such as nursing education and curriculum development (Canady, 2021).

Nurse informaticists is a role in clinical settings requiring extensive skills in research, clinical data collection and analysis and nursing decision -making. Nurse informaticists are often nurse leaders and thus require DNP-prepared nurses. Some institutions require a nurse with MSN, but DNP prepared nurses are often preferred for this crucial role (Monsen et al., 2019). They oversee data collection methods and processes, ensuring quality data collection, analysis and dissemination (Ochylski & Freeman, 2022). Nurse informaticists also develop, implement and evaluate nursing informatics projects that serve as a primary interface between nursing and other disciplines. Nurse informaticists also regulate the information flow between nursing and other departments for decision-making. They are also involved in the healthcare informatics team that regulates the institution’s data and influences decisions and policy -making in facilities ( Ochylski & Freeman, 2022). They also participate in interprofessional quality improvement projects requiring nursing data. These professionals are crucial to nursing and play vital functions in interdisciplinary teams.


Canady, K. (2022). Practical and philosophical considerations in choosing the DNP or Ph.D. in nursing. Journal of Professional Nursing, 37(1), 163-168. Nurs.2020.06.002

Monsen,K. A., Bush, R. A., Jones, J., Manos, E., Skiba, D. J., & Johnson, S. B.(2019). Alignment of the American association of colleges of nursing graduate-level nursing informatics competencies with American medical informatics association health informatics core competencies. CIN:Computers, Informatics, Nursing, 37(8), 396-404

Ochylski, S., & Freedom,R.(2022). Informatics in Large Health Systems: Organization, Transformation, and Nursing Informatics Leadership Perspectives. Nursing & Informatics for the 21st Century- Embracing a Digital World, 3rd Edition, Book1, 129-146.