Q Why should nurse leaders pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree?
With the expansion of practice knowledge and complexity of patient care, ensuring quality of care and patient safety requires strong nurse leaders who are forward-thinking and prepared to take on the challenge.1 DNP-prepared nurse leaders are positioned to improve healthcare by navigating, guiding, and driving healthcare advances. They understand their responsibility to inspire, innovate, create, and implement evidence-based strategies that will affect nursing practice and patient-care outcomes. The Joint Commission, National Academy of Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other agencies recognize that advanced education in nursing leadership, such as a DNP, equips nurse leaders with the knowledge and skills necessary to take on new and innovative roles in healthcare and improve the delivery of care and expected outcomes for patients and their communities.
What to expect from the program
The DNP curriculum focuses on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, clinical scholarship, evidence translation and implementation science, management and analysis of health, managing human capital, economics, business practices, and leadership theories. DNP programs are designed to incorporate ongoing changes in the healthcare system through theory and practicum coursework. The Essentials of the Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice, Quality and Safety Education for Nurses, and the American Organization for Nursing Leadership competencies are embedded in most DNP programs. A DNP program culminates in a scholarly project designed to demonstrate the competencies and skills needed to function as an expert leader who can bring evidence-based knowledge into the practice arena, improve healthcare outcomes, implement best practices, guide complex care delivery, and critically think and influence change and the future of nursing.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, all DNP curricula must promote the following learning outcomes:
- Create and sustain healthful work environments and influence quality and safety outcomes.
- Differentiate among various leadership skills and theories as they influence systems thinking and healthcare delivery.
- Advance the front line of healthcare settings with a focus on patient-centered care and strategic outcomes.
- Translate evidence to support innovative solutions for complex organizational problems and opportunities.
- Evaluate quality and safety tenets at different levels, ranging from individual to populations.
- Build relationships and partnerships through effective communication.
- Combine leadership skills, business acumen, technology, human capital, quality, and safety to design and implement programs.
Disseminating research results
For nurse leaders looking to make a positive impact on healthcare today, it's essential to disseminate completed evidence-based DNP projects focused on practice improvement. By sharing the knowledge gained from these projects with other nurses, interdisciplinary healthcare team members, and policy makers, DNP nurse leaders can improve healthcare. Dissemination outside the academic institution where the degree was obtained is vital for the nursing profession because it raises awareness and collaboration to ensure that the most effective quality care is being delivered to improve health or health outcomes.
The most common methods to disseminate project results are through poster/podium presentations and peer-reviewed journals. Although each method has its advantages, both platforms can ensure that the project has a high profile and will draw an audience with similar interests.
Editor's note: Look for more information in 2023 about how Nursing Management can help you disseminate your DNP project results.
1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Fact sheet: The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). 2022. www.aacnnursing.org/Portals/42/News/Factsheets/DNP-Fact-Sheet.pdf