For RNs wanting to pursue a doctorate, it is important to pick a degree that best matches your anticipated career path. The shortest simplest explanation of the difference in these degrees is probably:
- PhD – If you want to be a nurse scientist & teach in a university & conduct nursing research.
- DNP – If you want to be an advanced practice nurse, who primarily uses research in leadership, QI, patient care, etc. along with measuring project outcomes.
An excellent, free full-text, critique can be found at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4547057/
Of course, some DNPs teach in universities, particularly in DNP programs. PhDs may otherwise be better prepared for faculty roles. I encourage you to look carefully at the curriculum at the school where you hope to study and expectations of a university where you hope to teach. Speak with faculty, & choose wisely.
Ever wonder what the difference is between the new Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctorate of Philosophy in nursing (PhD)?
In short the focus of PhD education is to prepare the RN to create original research. In contrast, DNP education is to prepare the RN to apply existing research to nursing practice.
Being a nurse practitioner (NP) is NOT the difference. Also while some PhDs become skilled in applying research to practice & some DNPs do research,…their doctoral course preparation & final projects are quite different!
For more information: Here’s a great comparison chart from one doctoral program: https://nursingandhealth.asu.edu/degree-programs/doctoral-vs-phd-degrees-at-asu
Critical reflection: Based on your own personal career goals….If you were to return for a doctorate, which would you find most useful?