Comparison of professional practice doctoral degrees and research doctoral degrees

It is important for nurse anesthetists who want to pursue doctoral education to choose the doctoral degree that best fits with their educational and professional goals before applying to a doctoral program. The following information provides some basic information about the two types of doctoral degrees available to nurse anesthetics, which will assist them in choosing the degree and program that fits their goals.

A professional practice degree, such as the DNAP, focuses on application of research findings to practice-related problems, which is similar to other professional practice degrees, such as the Doctor of Medicine, Doctor of Dentistry, Doctor of Pharmacy, and Doctor of Physical Therapy, among others.

A research-oriented degree, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), focuses on primary data-based investigation for the discovery of new knowledge.  

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) accredits nurse anesthesia programs that offer master’s degrees, practice doctorate degrees, and research-oriented doctoral degrees which are focused in nurse anesthesia. COA has set specific standards for programs offering practice-oriented doctoral degrees and research-oriented degrees. The following table compares COA’s standards for these two types of doctoral degrees. As the table indicates, the two types of doctoral degrees parallel each other in quality and rigor, but the focus and outcomes of the two degrees differ. Doctoral programs in nurse anesthesia are designed using these criteria as a basis.

RESEARCH-ORIENTED DOCTORATE
(E.G., Doctor of Philosophy)

PRACTICE-ORIENTED DOCTORATE
(E.G., Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice)

FOCUS:

Primary data-based investigation for the discovery of new knowledge.

FOCUS:

Application of research findings to practice-related problems.

TO ACCOMPLISH THE FOCUS:

Doctoral students master additional theory and knowledge in an area of academic focus for the discipline in which the degree is awarded.

TO ACCOMPLISH THE FOCUS: 

Doctoral students are prepared to advance theory and knowledge of the discipline in which the degree is awarded. • Doctoral students achieve advanced scholarship skills relevant to the area of academic focus.

Doctoral students develop advanced scholarship skills and generate research relevant to the discipline. • Doctoral students complete a scholarly work that demonstrates knowledge within the area of academic focus.

Doctoral students complete a dissertation or equivalent scholarly work which constitutes an original contribution to the knowledge within the discipline.

Faculty members demonstrate competency in scholarly and professional work in the relevant discipline.

Faculty members demonstrate competency for scholarly and professional work in the relevant discipline.

Doctoral students have sufficient access to appropriately credentialed faculty.

Doctoral students have sufficient access to appropriately credentialed faculty.

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