TABLE 4-5 Estimated Distribution of Master’s and Doctoral Degrees as Highest Nursing or Nursing-Related Educational Preparation, 2000–200

Degree

Estimated Distribution

2000

2004

2008

Master’s

257,812

350,801

375,794

Master’s of science in nursing (MSN)

202,639

256,415

290,084

Nursing-related master’s degree

55,173

94,386

85,709

Percent of master’s degrees that are nursing (MSN)

78.6

73.1

77.2

Doctoral

17,256

26,100

28,369

Doctorate in nursing

8,435

11,548

13,140

Nursing-related doctoral degree

8,821

14,552

15,229

Percent of doctorates that are nursing

48.9

44.2

46.3

SOURCE: HRSA, 2010b.

guided by the AACN’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice.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



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