Reconceptualizing the core of nurse practitioner education and practice


Mary E. Burman, PhD, APRN, BC, Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, University of Wyoming, Dept 3065, 1000 E. University Avenue, Laramie, WY 82071.
Tel: 307-766-8291; Fax: 307-766-4294;


Purpose: The movement to the doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is progressing rapidly with new programs emerging and curricular documents being developed. We argue that the implementation of the DNP is a good move for nursing, provided that we use the opportunity to reconceptualize the core of advanced practice nursing, especially nurse practitioner (NP) practice.

Data sources: Theory and research articles from nursing focused on advanced practice nursing, NPs, and doctoral education.

Conclusions: The foundation of NP education is currently based essentially on borrowed or shared content in assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. We argue that the heart and soul of nursing is in health promotion, both in healthy persons and in those dealing with chronic illness. Current master’s programs do not prepare NPs to assume high-level practice focused on health promotion and disease management using the latest theoretical developments in health behavior change, behavioral sciences, exercise physiology, nutrition, and medical anthropology. Although these are touched upon in most NP programs, they do not represent the core science of NP education and need to be a critical part of any DNP program.

Implications for practice: Ultimately, our vision is for NP care to be consistently “different,” yet just as essential as physician care, leading to positive outcomes in health promotion and disease management.