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Keywords:

  • Administration;
  • leadership;
  • management;
  • nursing research

Problem

Nurse executives practice in a business environment, which requires a skill set that has traditionally not been included in advanced nursing curriculum. The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) essentials are designed to address this gap in education while maintaining the focus on advanced nursing practice and executive management competency. Current literature supports the appropriateness of the DNP with practice focus areas of advanced practice specialties and nursing leadership. Although certification and educational bodies, and some professional nursing organizations, have embraced the DNP as the terminal degree for non-research-focused nurses, there remains a gap in the literature in regards to the perceptions of validity of the DNP for nurse executives.

Method

The purpose of this capstone project was to investigate the perceptions of practicing chief nursing officers (CNOs) in the acute care setting regarding the application of the DNP degree for nurse leaders. Utilizing an online survey, specific perceptions investigated included application and appropriateness of the DNP in a business-based practice model and managing daily nursing operations.

Findings

CNOs practicing in the acute care setting differed on their responses regarding whether the DNP should be the recommended or the required degree in CNO development programs. CNOs with tenure responded more positively to the perception that the DNP curricula contains advanced nursing knowledge content appropriate to nurse executive practice.

Conclusions

Practicing CNOs in the acute care setting do perceive the DNP as an appropriate degree option for nurse executive roles at aggregate, system, and organizational levels.