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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a DNP?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctoral degree for nurses at the highest level of nursing practice. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has proposed that the DNP degree will be the level of entry for all advanced practice nurses by 2015. For more information about AACN's proposal, visit:

Why is the DNP degree necessary?
The changing demands of today's complex healthcare environment, outlined in recent reports from the Institute of Medicine, require that nurses serving in specialty positions have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise possible. Nurses are constantly working with individuals who have a high level of preparation in their respective fields - physicians, pharmacists, and other health providers. The effectiveness of nurses is directly related to the amount and type of education they receive, and recent research has established a clear link between higher levels of nursing education and better patient outcomes.

What knowledge, skills and abilities will a DNP provide over and above my existing Master's preparation?
Practice-focused doctoral programs prepare experts in specialized advanced practice nursing. Preparation includes the development of advanced competencies for increasingly complex practice and leadership roles; enhanced knowledge to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes; and enhanced leadership skills to strengthen practice and healthcare delivery. Learn more about the knowledge, skills and abilities that will be provided in the DNP education by reading the AACN's Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice.

What are the differences between the DNP and PhD programs?
The Georgia College DNP program builds upon the current master's program content to prepare nurse leaders for evidence-based practice in both direct patient care and executive roles. This requires competence in translating research in practice, evaluating evidence, applying research in decision-making, and implementing viable clinical and organizational innovations to change practice. A PhD program is designed to prepare nurses for careers as research scientists, often in academic or governmental positions.





Prepares nurses at the highest level of nursing practice who will lead in applying and translating research into practice

Prepares nurse scholars to conduct research that advances the theoretical foundations of nursing and health care globally

Competencies and Content

Knowledge and skills in applying and translating research into practice; leads dissemination and integration of new knowledge in healthcare organizations

Knowledge and skills in theoretical, methodological, and analytic approaches to the discovery and application of knowledge in nursing and healthcare

Program Outcome

Demonstrate advanced [specialist] levels of clinical judgment, systems thinking, and accountability in designing, delivering, and evaluating evidence-based care to improve patient outcomes.

Nurse scientist prepared for a career in research in academia or other research-intensive environments

Program Hallmarks

An intense practice immersion experience with expert clinical faculty

An intense mentored research experience with a faculty investigator with an established funded program of research

Final Project

A practice application-oriented DNP capstone project

Completion and defense of an original research project

References: AACN Comparison of DNP and PhD/DNSc/DNS Programs;

The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice;

If I am an NP now, will I have to return to school to get a DNP degree in order to practice?

No, advanced practice nurses with Master's degrees will be able to continue to practice in their current capacities.

Will DNP graduates be able to assume the nurse educator role in schools of nursing?
Yes, but the DNP degree does not prepare nurses to be educators. Graduates from all doctoral programs (DNP and PhD) who want to teach should take additional coursework in education. Expectations of faculty in terms of scholarship (i.e., research and publications) vary widely across institutions.

Is a dissertation required?
No, a dissertation is not required. Instead, a capstone project will be completed by the end of the program.

What is a Capstone project?
Doctoral education is distinguished by the completion of a project that demonstrates synthesis of the student's work and lays the groundwork for future scholarship. The DNP capstone project is a scholarly experience that implements the principles of evidence-based practice and translation under the guidance of a faculty mentor. The outcome of the DNP capstone project will be a tangible and deliverable academic product that is derived from the practice immersion experience and will be reviewed and evaluated by an academic committee.

How will I find a faculty mentor?
Opportunities to meet and talk with the Georgia College faculty will be provided during the orientation prior to the beginning of the program. You will be assigned a temporary faculty advisor that will guide you through the process of selecting your faculty mentor.


Contact Information
Dr. Deborah MacMillan
Assistant Director Graduate Program
School of Nursing
Macon Graduate Center
Macon, GA 31201
478-752-1074 - office
478-747-0986 - cell

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