The Differences Between a DNP and PHD in Nursing

With many different further education options available, you may be wondering what the difference is between them. Understanding this will help make sure you make the right decision for you, and get on the course which will lead you down the career path you have in mind. In the field of nursing, two of the courses people often wonder about are the doctorate of nursing practice, and the PHD in nursing. They sound quite similar, so what are the differences?

DNP is Practice, PHD is Research

This is the basic difference between the two courses. While both lead to many different career options, if you are looking to be a practicing nurse, either in a hospital or elsewhere, then a doctorate of nursing practice is the degree for you. While if you want to be a researcher, making breakthroughs in modern medicine, you’ll want to look into a PHD.

Course Objectives

At the end of a DNP, you’ll be able to use your skills to take what you have learned in research, into a working nurse’s role. Use your knowledge to become a nurse manager, educate those under you, as well as patients and families. You will be able to look at how your hospital or business works, and make a plan for any necessary changes.

As a PHD graduate you’ll be able to join or even lead a research team, looking to the future. Designing your own studies and implementing them to make new discoveries into healthcare and medicine.

Course Content

On a PHD you will need to do at least 140 hours teaching experience; this isn’t required for a DNP, but you will need to work within a hospital or another clinical practice, which isn’t required for a PHD. The modules studied will be different throughout the courses, tailored to suit the differing objectives of the degree.

If you’re looking to take a DNP, there is the option to study for your doctor of nursing practice program online such as with the course at Gwynedd Mercy University.

Careers Available

Some of the careers available are the same for either of these courses. For example, both would allow you to take a job as a practicing nurse, or a nurse manager, but ideally if you are looking to take one of these jobs, it would be a DNP you would choose, as if you hold a PHD you may find you need to take an additional course. Either of these courses would allow you to become a nurse anesthetist also. A PHD could give you different options, such as becoming a nurse researcher or educator.

Either of these courses will be a challenging and exciting area of study, having a lot in common, but preparing you for your future career in different ways. While both could lead to many of the same careers, the different modules and styles of teaching, would make a PHD student more suited to a research or teaching role, and a DNP student more prepared for a life as a practicing nurse or a nurse manager.

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