“So much is doable these days in health care if you’ve got people prepared to do it,” wrote Patricia M. Davidson, PhD, MEd, RN, FAAN, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Baltimore, last month in the Huffington Post.
The observation accompanied the announcement of a new dual-degree DNP/PhD program planned at the school of nursing. As Dr. Davidson explained, the upcoming Clinical Research Intervention Scientists DNP/PhD program, planned to launch next summer, will prime nurses to flourish and lead in an increasingly challenging health care environment, filled with older patients, chronic diseases, provider shortages, and a growing threat of pandemics.
“As nurses handle more of what were a physician’s duties (as well as their traditional roles), education must pivot to turn out more, better-prepared ‘nurses-plus,’” Dr. Davidson wrote.
The dual-degree DNP/PhD program is designed to combine the competencies and practice opportunities of a DNP with the clinical research skills and scientific rigor of a PhD. In the Clinical Research Intervention Scientists program, future clinician-scientist nurses will learn how to conduct research, implement processes to improve patient outcomes, teach, and promote policy that shapes financing, regulation, and delivery of health care across continuums.
“This is an opportune time in health care for nurses to receive such a degree,” said Dr. Davidson in a school of nursing press release. “Nurses are at the forefront of leadership, and the demand for more highly qualified nurses is evident with the rise of chronic diseases, aging populations, and complex health system issues. This new degree meets the demands and will prepare nurses to find and implement solutions that will improve the future of care.”
While DNP/PhD programs aren’t exactly new, several attributes separate this program from others, according to the nursing school:
“There are so many unique facets and advantages to this degree,” said program director Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, AACRN, FAAN. “The coursework takes 5 years to complete, which is significantly shorter than most current courses of study for both degree programs, and it speaks directly to national needs for clinical investigators and the Institute of Medicine's [now the National Academy of Medicine] recommendations for more doctorally prepared nurses.”
The Clinical Research Intervention Scientists program will include mentorship from both DNP- and PhD-prepared instructors as well as guidance in clinical placements and an evidence-based practice project. Residencies in teaching, clinical competency, and research will be available.
With the support of a clinical preceptor, students in the program will eventually manage the health care of more than 2 dozen patients over a 12-month span. The experience is aimed to allow the clinician-scientist nurses to master clinical content as well as to collect, analyze, and disseminate research in clinical practice settings.
“We are excited for the opportunities this will bring on many levels of health care,” said Dr. Davidson. “Having clinician-scientists on the ground and at the table will be tremendous for the profession.”
More details are available on the school’s DNP/PhD webpage. The application process for next summer’s program is scheduled to begin in late August.
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