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The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health
TABLE 4-5 Estimated Distribution of Master’s and Doctoral Degrees as Highest Nursing or Nursing-Related Educational Preparation, 2000–200
Master’s of science in nursing (MSN)
Nursing-related master’s degree
Percent of master’s degrees that are nursing (MSN)
Doctorate in nursing
Nursing-related doctoral degree
Percent of doctorates that are nursing
SOURCE: HRSA, 2010b.
guided by the AACN’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced NursingPractice.13
Schools of nursing have been developing DNP programs since 2002, but only in the last 5 years have the numbers of graduates approached a substantial level (Raines, 2010). Between 2004 and 2008 the number of programs offering the degree increased by nearly 40 percent, as is shown in Figure 4-7. At this point, more evidence is needed to examine the impact DNP nurses will have on patient outcomes, costs, quality of care, and access in clinical settings. It is also difficult to discern how DNP nurses could affect the provision of nursing education and whether they will play a significant role in easing faculty shortages. While the DNP provides a promising opportunity to advance the nursing profession, and some nursing organizations are promoting this degree as the next step for APRNs, the committee cannot comment directly on the potential role of DNP nurses because of the current lack of evidence on outcomes.
Although 13 percent of nurses hold a graduate degree, fewer than 1 percent (28,369 nurses) have a doctoral degree in nursing or a nursing-related field, the qualification needed to conduct independent research (HRSA, 2010b). In fact, only 555 students graduated with a PhD in nursing in 2009, a number that has remained constant for the past decade (AACN, 2009a). As noted, key roles for PhD nurses include teaching future generations of nurses and conducting research that becomes the basis for improvements in nursing practice. As the need for nursing education and research and for nurses to engage with interprofessional research teams has grown, the numbers of nurses with a PhD in nursing or a related field have not kept pace (see Figure 4-7 for trends in the various nursing programs). The main reasons for this lag are (1) an inadequate pool of nurses