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Research translation and the evolving PhD and DNP practice roles

A collaborative call for nurse practitioners

Falkenberg-Olson, Ann C. PhD (Nurse Research Scientist Consultant)

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners: August 2019 - Volume 31 - Issue 8 - p 447–453
doi: 10.1097/JXX.0000000000000266

ABSTRACT Doctoral prepared nurse practitioners (NPs) are uniquely positioned for responsible leadership as essential members of the health care system and have a professional responsibility to contribute to research and clinical inquiry initiatives that advance health care delivery and improve outcomes. Academic preparation of the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), although different in focus, offers opportunities for effective collaborations that transcend and integrate the scientific and practice roles of generating data and translating evidence. As health care organizations evolve in managing complexities of providing high-quality care, roles for the PhD as research scientist and DNP as research translation specialist will also evolve to keep pace. Despite this professional calling and global opportunity for research and evidence-based practice (EBP), future NPs and nurses will be challenged with an imminent lack of experts who have the skills needed for data and research generation and evidence translation. This commentary introduces and discusses emerging roles and organizational models for doctoral prepared NPs in research, EBP, quality assurance, and quality improvement projects, offers suggestions for NPs interested in research and clinical inquiry, and seeks to ignite excitement for scientific discovery in NP-driven initiatives. Nurse practitioners are encouraged to take advantage of the many opportunities to shape and expand their careers by engaging in knowledge generation for improving health care outcomes.

Department of Nursing Research, Gundersen Health System/Gundersen Medical Foundation, La Crosse, Wisconsin

Correspondence: Ann C. Falkenberg-Olson, PhD, Department of Nursing Research, Gundersen Health System/Gundersen Medical Foundation, La Crosse, WI 54601. Tel: 608-775-2758; 507-450-0471; E-mail:

Competing interests: The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Received February 11, 2019

Received in revised form May 21, 2019

Accepted May 29, 2019

© 2019 American Association of Nurse Practitioners
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