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DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice

Clinical Librarian

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Pam Hargwood

The Difference Between a DNP and a PhD

The PhD in Nursing will remain the accepted degree for nurse scientists. A PhD in nursing prepares nurse scientists who will GENERATE EVIDENCE to guide effective and safe nursing care. Whereas, a DNP degree prepares "practice" experts who will TRANSLATE EVIDENCE into practice across a variety of patient care settings.

Rutgers DNP Program

Rutgers DNP Program

Due to the increased complexity of health care, strong doctoral-prepared nurses with a focus on the practice setting are needed. A primary goal of the DNP graduate will be to translate evidence into practice in ways that improve the quality and safety of patient care and enhance positive patients outcomes.

Two program options are available in the DNP:

  • Clinical Practice Focus
  • Leadership Practice Focus

Whether practicing as a clinician, in a nursing leadership role, or in the community, the Rutgers DNP graduate will be prepared to affect practice, design and implement programs that improve health and health care delivery, apply data management and informatics skills to evaluate outcomes, and influence policy.

At the conclusion of the DNP Program, the graduate will be able to:

  1. Integrate biophysical, psychological, organizational, informatic, ethical, and legal knowledge with nursing science as a foundation for expert clinical nursing practice in a specific nursing clinical specialization.
  2. Demonstrate accountability in specialty practice according to accepted standards of patient care and safety.
  3. Translate research findings into evidence-based practice at the individual and health care system levels.
  4. Use information technology to evaluate the delivery of health care to individuals and internal and community systems.
  5. Effect desired change by developing and implementing policies at different levels of the health care system and with different constituencies.
  6. Provide multidisciplinary leadership through analysis of critical indicators and/or health care delivery systems in order to provide optimal patient care and safety in a specific nursing clinical specialization.
  7. Demonstrate advanced knowledge and skills in the planning and delivery of health and illness management in a specific nursing clinical specialization.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice programs position Rutgers to be at the forefront of nursing education programs in the country. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has recommended that by 2015, the standard for Advanced Practice Nursing Education be the DNP. Consequently, in fall 2012 Rutgers College of Nursing will no longer admit new nurse practitioner students into a master's program but has incorporated nurse practitioner education into the Post-BSN Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum.

Sample Projects

You can view other DNP students projects at these sites:

DNP Project Toolkit

Rutgers School of Nursing DNP Project Requirements for Development, Implementation, Evaluation and Dissemination of DNP Projects

All students enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program will complete an evidence-based practice project as a requirement for graduation. 

The project is a culmination of the knowledge gained in the DNP courses. The project is an opportunity to demonstrate an analytical approach to programmatic, administrative, policy  or practice issues in a format that supports the synthesis, transfer and utilization of knowledge.  This project will demonstrate identification and resolution of a practice problem through the  scholarship of application or integration, rather than the scholarship of discovery associated with  a PhD program of study (Boyer, 1997).

In other words, a project is broad and holistic.  The experience is designed to put to use the knowledge and skills gained within the doctoral  program in a specific practice area of the student’s choice. The project is chosen to make a  contribution -- in the work place, the community or in the academic arena. As such, project experiences are characterized by intensive interactions between and among faculty, students, and  the community in which the project is enacted.

A project is not intended to test new models, develop new theory, or test hypotheses.  Depending upon the student’s area of emphasis or interest, the project might include the  evaluation of a program or intervention, an analysis of a health care policy, an in-depth case  study, a gap analysis, a comprehensive systematic review for determination of best practice, or  the development of a strategic plan for the delivery of healthcare.


Systematic Review Proposal Outline

Developing a Protocol for a Systematic Review Using the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Method published by the New Jersey Centre for Evidence Based Healthcare and Patient Outcome Research and the UMDNJ School of Nursing.

IRB / Human Subject Protection Student Hanbook

A Guide to Human Subjects’ Protection in Research

Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, is legally and ethically bound to protect the rights and welfare of humans participating in research conducted by its faculty, staff and students. Federal regulation, state law, University policy and professional standards of the investigator’s academic discipline demand compliant, ethical and responsible conduct of social, behavioral and biomedical research involving human subjects.

The IRB offer this Handbook to help students meet their regulatory and ethical responsibilities when conducting research involving human subjects. The IRB Office answer a number of questions students new to research may have about working with an IRB and identify where to find additional resources.

The Office of Research Regulatory Affairs (ORRA) recognizes the value of student participation in the research process. It is a valuable learning experience that helps ensure future social benefit from the efforts of well-trained researchers. All students are encouraged to contact the Office directly if they need help navigating the IRB process. Contact your School’s designated IRB office, A staff person will partner with you to ensure your project proceeds promptly and compliantly. 

Evidence Based Pyramid

The "evidence pyramid" is often used to illustrate the levels of evidence in the literature. When beginning your search for evidence, begin at the highest possible tier. 

Filtered information is "pre-appraised." This means that the content has been filtered to include studies and reviews that are of higher quality. Keep in mind that the amount of available literature and the number of problems covered gets smaller as you move up the pyramid.

Unfiltered information represents the original studies. These tiers may not contain studies of high quality and strong evidence, but they cover a much broader range of clinical problems and are much more available.

Evidence Based Practice

Centre Evidence Based Medicine

Assess the quality of systematic reviews, diagnostic studies and randomized controlled studies.


Levels of Evidence

Descriptions of Levels of Evidence by clinical study category, and Grades of Recommendations


Asking Focused Clinical Questions

Use to help you build a PICO question.



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