Journal of Nursing Education

Major Article 

Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs: Opportunities for Faculty Development

Juliann G. Sebastian, PhD, RN, FAAN; Connie White Delaney, PhD, RN, FAAN, FACMI

Abstract

This article examines development opportunities for faculty teaching in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. Although faculty development for DNP programs is similar to that of other academic programs, faculty may need different strategies for teaching, scholarship, and service because DNP programs focus on translation of science into practice, systems-level changes, clinical scholarship, and the highest levels of advanced nursing practice. Faculty and student collaboration across DNP and PhD programs provide new approaches for translating research into practice and generating practice questions in need of further scientific development. Specific faculty development strategies for facilitating this collaboration are essential. Capstone projects pose special opportunities for faculty development due to the integration of these projects within diverse practice environments, with differing expectations, regulations, and pacing compared with research. Linking new care delivery models with health informatics is expected to facilitate rapid translation of research and development of improvements in practice. [J Nurs Educ.J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(8):453–461.]

Dr. Sebastian is Dean and Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Omaha, Nebraska; and Dr. White Delaney is Dean and Professor, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Invitational Doctor of Nursing Practice Conference participants for the questions and comments that strengthened this article.

Address correspondence to Juliann G. Sebastian, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, 985330 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5330; e-mail: julie.sebastian@unmc.edu.

Received: February 20, 2013
Accepted: June 27, 2013
Received: February 20, 2013
Accepted: June 27, 2013

Abstract

This article examines development opportunities for faculty teaching in Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs. Although faculty development for DNP programs is similar to that of other academic programs, faculty may need different strategies for teaching, scholarship, and service because DNP programs focus on translation of science into practice, systems-level changes, clinical scholarship, and the highest levels of advanced nursing practice. Faculty and student collaboration across DNP and PhD programs provide new approaches for translating research into practice and generating practice questions in need of further scientific development. Specific faculty development strategies for facilitating this collaboration are essential. Capstone projects pose special opportunities for faculty development due to the integration of these projects within diverse practice environments, with differing expectations, regulations, and pacing compared with research. Linking new care delivery models with health informatics is expected to facilitate rapid translation of research and development of improvements in practice. [J Nurs Educ.J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(8):453–461.]

Dr. Sebastian is Dean and Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Omaha, Nebraska; and Dr. White Delaney is Dean and Professor, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank the Committee on Institutional Cooperation Invitational Doctor of Nursing Practice Conference participants for the questions and comments that strengthened this article.

Address correspondence to Juliann G. Sebastian, PhD, RN, FAAN, Dean and Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, 985330 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198-5330; e-mail: julie.sebastian@unmc.edu.

Received: February 20, 2013
Accepted: June 27, 2013
Received: February 20, 2013
Accepted: June 27, 2013

Although practice doctorates have been available in nursing since the Nurse Doctorate was initiated at Case Western University in 1979 (Chism, 2010), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs have been offered since the first such program opened at the University of Kentucky in 2001 (Udlis & Mancuso, 2012). The adoption of this educational innovation has been dramatic, with 229 programs in existence at the time of this article’s publication and more than 100 in the planning stages (American Association of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2013). With the relative newness of these programs, we assume that few faculty members have been explicitly prepared to teach in DNP programs. Although no studies have reported the extent to which faculty engage in development programs specific to DNP education, in their national survey of capacity issues in DNP programs, Minnick, Norman, and Donaghey (2013) reported they found few schools with faculty members engaged in faculty practice or quality improvement initiatives. Given that these two areas are essential to DNP education, a need exists for faculty development in these and potentially other areas related to practice leadership.

Due to the widespread initiation of these programs and to accommodate the high demand for faculty to teach in them, we should consider what may be needed for faculty development that is unique to DNP programs and the faculty development needs shared with other graduate programs in nursing. The purposes of this article are to (a) propose key areas for faculty development for teaching in DNP programs, (b) examine strategies for faculty development that may be useful for preparing faculty who are teaching in DNP programs, and (c) analyze issues related to faculty development for supervising capstone and scholarly clinical projects, including the impact of trends in research and policy.

Assumptions

Several assumptions frame our thinking about prioritization and planning for faculty development and socialization related to DNP education. Foremost is the assumption that attention to faculty development is vital to the quality of DNP education and faculty satisfaction. Second is our belief that faculty members teaching in any doctoral program in nursing (DNP or PhD) share some faculty development needs, whereas some needs for faculty development vary across the two program types. We highlight the issues and opportunities we believe are unique to DNP programs, and we also recommend that faculty members need time to explore how to create synergies across DNP and PhD programs. Creating synergies across DNP and PhD programs is fundamental to accelerate the translation of nursing research to practice, which is one of the primary goals of DNP education.

We recognize that some faculty teaching in DNP programs may themselves be recent DNP graduates. The national nursing faculty shortage (AACN, 2012) has had the positive outcome of engaging more clinicians as faculty members. Increased collaboration and shared appointments between academia and practice, although highly desirable, can increase the variation of clinical and academic expertise across the range of DNP faculty. Faculty may be clinicians who are new to teaching or may be researchers with teaching experience but have limited current clinical experience. Some faculty teaching in DNP programs may have teaching experience in master’s-level advanced practice programs but limited experience at the level of the practice doctorate. The emphasis in DNP programs on population health, informatics, and policy may bring added challenges because not all current faculty members may have expertise in those areas.

Changes in our societal context have profoundly influenced expectations for higher education and, we believe, have created the need for serious attention to providing faculty members with opportunities for ongoing development. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM; 2010) report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, called attention to the need for increased numbers of doctoral graduates and for residencies or opportunities to learn new roles as nurses transition from one career path to another. Faculty development programs are consistent with the IOM recommendations for learning new roles and for engaging in lifelong learning. Demographic trends, lifestyle factors, and scientific advances necessitate that faculty address new areas in practice doctoral nursing education. The aging population and increasing prevalence of multiple comorbidities, coupled with the emergence and spread of global diseases and revolutions in genomics, proteomics, and epigenetics, demand creative approaches to practice doctoral education. Unprecedented growth in knowledge and technology combined with the evolution of team science (Meneses, 2007), the eScience paradigm (Jankowski, 2007), and the growing importance of translational science mean that the boundaries of scientific discovery are expanding dramatically. The imminent need to transform health care, coupled with reduction in the public’s perception of hospitals’ trustworthiness (35% of adult respondents to the Harris Interactive Poll rated the hospital industry as trustworthy in 2004 compared with 29% in 2010; Taylor, 2010), makes it imperative that faculty members teaching in DNP programs are prepared to teach students how to engage in such transformations at the highest levels. Because true transformation rests on scientific advancement, faculty must teach DNP students how to partner with nurse scientists and other scientific colleagues (Edwardson, 2010; Mundinger, Starck, Hathaway, Shaver, & Woods, 2009; Stein, 2011).

Thus, one of our key assumptions is that although faculty development for teaching in DNP programs is unique in many ways, some elements are shared with faculty members teaching in PhD programs; consequently, there is a need for some level of collaboration across the two program types. Faculty teaching in DNP programs may include faculty members with expertise as clinicians, scientists, and seasoned educators or those who have expertise derived from other disciplines (AACN, 2006). We believe that nursing faculty groups composed of experts in direct and indirect nursing practice and research are essential to preparing the next generation of clinicians and systems change agents. Such faculty groups should include faculty with clinical expertise and a clear understanding of transformational practice and how it is informed by scientific discoveries and evidence. Ideally, a college, school, or department of nursing will include faculty with active clinical projects and those with funded research projects who share their work within a clearly articulated interdependent trajectory or continuum of science-based care. Articulations with nursing programs that are not in research-focused environments have the potential to stimulate important translational partnerships.

The Table highlights areas of faculty development that we believe are shared across DNP and PhD programs, as well as the unique elements of each program type. Faculty development related to the composite categories of academic mission and role development is suggested in the broad recommendations of the Council of Graduate Schools and the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ Preparing Future Faculty program ( http://www.preparing-faculty.org; Pruitt-Logan, Gaff, & Jentoft, 2002). We added teaching strategies and student advisement as a separate category and use the Table as the framework for this article.

Table: Areas for Faculty Development in Doctoral Programs in Nursing

The academic role of nursing faculty members is characterized by complexity and multiple demands and is driven by trends in nursing, health care, science and technology, and higher education. One of the key variables influencing the nature of the faculty role is the academic mission of the institution at which the program resides and where the faculty member is employed. Because DNP programs are opening in different types of institutions, including small liberal arts colleges, master’s degree–granting institutions, universities, academic health science centers, and consortia, the differing missions of these institutions will influence faculty roles. Faculty roles may include research, broader conceptualizations of scholarship consistent with the model by Boyer (1990, 1996), clinical practice, and varying levels of emphasis on teaching and scholarship. Faculty development programs should provide opportunities for faculty to integrate the relevant expectations into coherent and meaningful wholes. In addition, promotion and tenure policies should accommodate newer forms of scholarship if DNP-prepared faculty members are on tenure tracks (Bellini, McCauley, & Cusson, 2012). Faculty teaching in DNP programs should have systematic opportunities for developing in each of the tripartite missions of academic life as appropriate for the mission of the institution and the particular foci of individual faculty members. Thus, content for faculty development programs should address the teaching mission and should include theories of adult learning, teaching–learning strategies, curriculum development and evaluation, and role development. Recommendations from the Re-Envisioning the Ph.D program described by Nyquist and Woodford (2000) are relevant for faculty teaching in DNP programs because they address the needs related to the preparation of doctoral graduates to teach. These recommendations address the development of syllabi, course coordination, mentoring junior faculty, and writing and managing training grants among the key areas for faculty development related to teaching (Nyquist & Woodford, 2000).

Because the DNP is a practice doctorate and students are likely to be engaged in practice, faculty may need to learn the teaching strategies best suited to clinicians and executives in practice, as well as to adult learning. Research on learning strategies with clinicians suggests that because the practice environment is fast paced and quick decision making is often required, “just-in-time” learning strategies can be a good fit (Titler, 2008). Adult learning theory also supports the principle that learning is most effective when it is clearly relevant to current needs (Knowles, Holton, & Swanson, 2011). Academic detailing, in which just-in-time learning is provided by a mentor, is one strategy that uses adult learning theory and the pacing found in clinical environments. Although academic detailing emerged from marketing efforts in the pharmaceutical industry, a recent analysis by Fischer and Avorn (2012) suggests that it can be a useful strategy for teaching clinicians when it is implemented by a neutral party.

Learning how to teach within an interprofessional education (IPE) context is foundational to achieving the DNP Essentials (AACN, 2006) and moving interprofessional practice forward at systems levels. Interprofessional competencies are needed at every level of nursing education and are not unique for faculty teaching in DNP programs. However, they are needed to achieve the DNP Essentials (AACN, 2006) and to help students learn leadership dynamics in interprofessional environments such as health systems and accountable care organizations. Headrick et al. (2012) reported on a Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and Institute for Healthcare Improvement initiative with six universities that worked to engage medical and nursing students in interprofessional learning about quality and safety. In this initiative, faculty development commenced at the beginning of the project, and monthly follow-up conference calls were conducted that focused on the sharing of successful approaches to IPE, learning improvement, patient safety interventions, and evaluation strategies. The National Center for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Education (2013), funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration and located at the University of Minnesota, provides a national resource that can support faculty development for IPE in doctoral programs and signifies the national importance of IPE.

Faculty development programs should also address how scholarship is defined in a particular institutional environment and should clarify the types and extent of support faculty might expect in developing their programs of scholarship (Steinert, 2012). Faculty teaching in DNP programs may need release time to develop clinical scholarship trajectories that are consistent with the institutional environment, vision, mission, and priorities. Clear differentiation of different forms of scholarship, such as the model by Boyer (1990, 1996), can help as faculty build trajectories of clinical scholarship. Faculty development programs should also address how clinical practice and institutional and professional service as academic citizens fits into the faculty role as part of an integrated whole. Given the importance of faculty practice to DNP programs (Mundinger et al., 2009), whether in the form of direct care or systems- or policy-oriented practice, it is critical to incorporate such practice for at least some faculty teaching in DNP programs.

Guiding and advising students as they develop and implement capstone projects is also an area of development for many faculty members. Faculty may be more accustomed to working with doctoral dissertation advisees or, conversely, may have little experience with doctoral advisement.

Trends in higher education impacting faculty include fiscal and efficiency pressures, such as increased budgetary pressures in all types of institutions, public and policy makers’ concerns about the escalating costs of tuition and fees (Jamrisko & Kolet, 2012), and increased competitiveness of all types of external grant funding. The fiscal pressures relate directly to faculty workload and to more widespread employment of part-time faculty. The shortage of full-time faculty has also led to increased employment of part-time faculty (Creech, 2008; Forbes, Hickey, & White, 2010; Patston, Holmes, Maalhagh-Fard, Ting, & Ziccardi, 2010). Public concern for student learning, job placement, and competency-based education (Khan, 2012) places increased pressure on faculty to understand adult learning theories and the design and evaluation of competency-based learning.

Finally, the aging nursing faculty suggests that more succession planning will be needed to develop junior faculty with less experience in the faculty role. According to a 2012 survey by the AACN on faculty shortages, the average age of doctorally prepared professors was 60.5 years and doctorally prepared assistant professors was 51.5 years. Berlin and Sechrist (2002) reported that on average, nursing faculty members retire at age 62.5 years. If this is still the case, many senior faculty members, who may be among those most likely to teach in doctoral programs, could leave their positions within the next few years, leaving more junior faculty to work with DNP students. Some of the junior faculty members who are early in their academic careers may have come to the academic setting from clinical, community-based, or administrative environments. This may intensify the need for support as the junior faculty adapt to academic institutional cultures that may be new to them (Duphily, 2011; McDonald, 2010) .

Bartels (2007) noted that Boyer’s (1990, 1996) seminal description of different forms of scholarship provides a framework for conceptualizing the scholarly aspects of the multiple components of faculty roles. This framework offers a conceptual basis for scholarship that is useful for faculty teaching in DNP programs and for faculty members who hold the DNP credential (Bellini et al., 2012). The development of knowledge is of special relevance to nurse scientists, and dissemination and use of knowledge is relevant for nursing faculty and clinical scholars. Because many faculty members emphasize at least two of the three parts of the traditional tripartite mission of education, research, and service or practice, the model by Boyer (1990, 1996) not only legitimizes multiple forms of scholarship but also creates a responsibility for engaging in scholarly approaches to each component of the faculty role. This suggests that faculty teaching in DNP programs may need support to develop the scholarly component of their work and may benefit from development within the context of teaching and practice.

Similar to Nyquist’s and Wulff’s (2001) description of “scholar-citizens” (para. 9), Cherwitz and Sullivan (2002) linked faculty scholarship with the concepts of “citizen-scholars” (p. 24) in their analysis of the responsibilities to the public of higher education institutions. This concept is the foundation of the Intellectual Entrepreneurship program developed at the University of Texas at Austin that more fully engages doctoral students with real-world challenges related to their fields of study (Cherwitz & Sullivan, 2002). Bloomfield (2005) extended this idea to an overall commitment to engagement of faculty and universities with their communities. Both sets of ideas are consistent with three of Boyer’s (1990, 1996) areas of scholarship—application, integration, and engagement. Together, these areas of scholarship form the foundation for teaching DNP students how to implement research and change systems at the highest levels.

Trends in nursing and health care include the need to model advanced nursing practice and to do so as part of interprofessional teams. This places demands on faculty to be engaged in practice at the levels at which they are teaching DNP students, whether in direct clinical care or indirectly through systems leadership or policy change. Nursing faculty members must be knowledgeable about increased regulatory changes in health care and increased codification and regulation of advanced practice nursing, such as indicated in the Consensus Model for APRN Regulation, Licensure, Accreditation, Certification, and Education (APRN Consensus Work Group & National Council of State Boards of Nursing APRN Advisory Committee, 2008), as well as the regulations promulgated by the 50 state boards of nursing.

Role Development

Role development is a key component of faculty development for DNP programs. Faculty who are new to the academic role should have opportunities to learn about the differences between academic and practice cultures (Duphily, 2011), including differences in decision-making approaches and pacing and variations in the temporal dimensions of academic culture and the clinical environment. Although shared governance is present in both the academic and clinical settings, the issues and decisions vary substantially. Time management in an academic role differs from that in a clinical role, where decisions have an immediacy that reflects rapidly changing clinical conditions. In the academic environment, time management is related to course and curriculum planning, allowing time for review and decisions by multiple stakeholder groups and thinking in terms of academic time units, such as semesters, quarters, and academic calendars. Legal and ethical aspects of academic environments vary in comparison with the clinical environment. Regulations, such as those associated with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) of 1974 (U.S. Department of Education, 2004), affect teaching and academic roles, and policies related to human subjects protection and conflict of interest related to research and quality improvement projects are essential. Understanding academic financial issues and institutional business policies is key to helping faculty influence the sustainability of academic nursing programs and to transforming the context for change in higher education in nursing. For example, Stuart, Erkel, and Shull (2010) reported on a financial analysis process used by faculty in one school of nursing in determining the fiscal considerations in opening a DNP program. This is a good example of providing development opportunities for faculty in academic leadership. Other examples include mentoring faculty who are new to campus and clinical committees and committee leadership roles.

Strategies for Faculty Development Programs

Faculty development programs can include formal courses in graduate education, teaching scholar programs (Rosenbaum, Lenoch, & Ferguson, 2006; Steinert & McLeod, 2006), nondegree certificate programs, school-based mentoring programs, seminar series or periodic colloquia, opportunities to attend conferences, individualized programs tailored for each faculty member, or a combination of these approaches. The Preparing Future Faculty Program’s Web site ( http://www.preparing-faculty.org) contains a listing of the multiple ways in which the participating institutions implemented faculty development programs for graduate students. The comprehensive program described by Conn, Porter, McDaniel, Rantz, and Maas (2005) for developing faculty in the research components of their roles exemplifies the systematic use of multiple approaches for faculty development, including mentoring, seminars, planning sessions with the associate dean, and regular progress reports and plan adjustments. Mundt (2001) described a successful research mentoring program also aimed at helping faculty develop as productive scientists. Similar approaches could be used for creating DNP faculty development programs targeting development of systems-level practice projects or the teaching and institutional service components of the faculty role.

Smith, Hecker-Fernandes, Zorn, and Duffy (2012) proposed a model for faculty development that differentiates between precepting and mentoring. Based on the results of their descriptive study of one department of nursing, they suggested that precepting meets more instrumental needs, such as developing syllabi and coordination activities, whereas mentoring focuses more on long-term relationships, role development, and the development of scholarship. Similarly, Dunham-Taylor, Lynn, Moore, McDaniel, and Walker (2008) acknowledged the distinctions between “macro-socialization” (p. 341) and “micro-socialization” (p. 342) in which the former focuses more on role development and building new relationships and the latter emphasizes operational details related to teaching.

Specific strategies that have been reported in the academic medicine literature include the use of “peer coaching, journaling” (Goldman, Wesner, Karnchanomai, & Haywood, 2012, p. 1177), interview-based discussions (Jacelon, Zucker, Staccarini, & Henneman, 2003), shared reading and reflection (Steinert, Naismith, & Mann, 2012), “narrative medicine” (Balmer & Richards, 2012, p. 242), and the use of “intensive feedback” (Skeff, 1983, p. 465; Steinert et al., 2006, p. 508).

Professional organizations also have implemented national faculty development programs focused on particular topical areas. Examples include the Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity program funded by the Hartford Foundation (Franklin et al., 2011), the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence Nurse Leaders Scholar program ( http://www.jonascenter.org/program-areas/scholars), and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program ( http://www.nursefacultyscholars.org). The AACN offers a robust series of faculty webinars that include a number of topics relevant to development of faculty teaching in DNP programs, as well as an annual Faculty Development Conference ( http://www.aacn.nche.edu/about-aacn). The Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing provides a Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (n.d.), which is a beneficial resource for faculty development for DNP programs. Any of these resources might be included in schools’ faculty development plans, depending on the need and relevance for that particular school’s faculty members and the DNP program.

Faculty Development Issues and Opportunities Related to Capstone and Scholarly Clinical Projects

The nature and type of capstone or scholarly clinical projects a faculty group selects for their DNP program may vary, but the general purpose and differentiation from dissertations are described in the AACN’s Essentials of Doctoral Education (2006). If a school’s DNP program is administered by a university’s graduate school, important decisions must be made about the applied nature of these projects and how they compare with other practice doctorates that may be offered by the university. Faculty teaching in DNP programs should have opportunities to evaluate the differences between the DNP capstone or scholarly clinical projects and PhD dissertations and to be able to clearly articulate those differences within the profession and within respective graduate schools.

Implementing DNP capstone or scholarly clinical projects and the work of faculty in supporting students should be discussed during the development of a school’s DNP program and evaluated as part of formative and summative evaluation processes established by each school. If a robust faculty practice program is in place, DNP students might participate in a faculty member’s clinical work and develop a project that is related to that work (C.A. Williams, personal communication, January 24, 2013). With this model, the faculty development program, which may include funded clinical projects, might focus more on how faculty would develop scholarly clinical projects in which students could participate. This approach is analogous to PhD students working with faculty on their funded programs of research (AACN, 2006).

Students in DNP programs are educated to implement large-scale systems changes. Such changes are likely to require more time than is available for a DNP capstone or scholarly clinical project; therefore, students need to learn the process with an initiative that is smaller in scale or a component of a larger change. They can do this by participating in faculty projects or with large scale initiatives underway in clinical or community settings. This suggests that faculty should be comfortable with coaching, project managing, segmenting sections of clinical projects into meaningful and coherent elements, team building, and the ability to help a student or a group of students learn these same skills. Students in BSN-to-DNP programs may be simultaneously engaged in developing clinical maturity while also developing a topic for a capstone or scholarly project early in their programs of study. Faculty members need to be able to support students as they conceptualize a project that meets the program’s outcome objectives and to build strategies for developing, implementing, and evaluating the project throughout the student’s program of studies.

Impact of Research and Policy Directions on Faculty Development for Capstone and Scholarly Clinical Projects

The variety of options for students’ clinical scholarship have expanded, influenced in part by research priorities for large-scale translation of discoveries to practice, personalized health based on the human genome discoveries, and clinical data-mining capabilities. The recent report, Best Care at Lower Cost: The Path to Continuously Learning Health Care in America (IOM, 2012a), emphasizes the synergy among these transformations. The potential of health informatics to improve practice is redefining what is possible in clinical systems improvements. Building on multiple other IOM reports (1999, 2001a, 2001b, 2003, 2004a, 2004b, 2005, 2006, 2008a, 2008b, 2009, 2010) related to the health system, health professions education, the role of nursing, and the “learning health system” (IOM, 2007, 2011, 2013, p. 1), the Best Care at Lower Cost report (IOM, 2012a) emphasized that combining new approaches to delivering care with health informatics can catalyze health care improvement. These changes suggest the need for faculty teaching in DNP programs to be knowledgeable about the science of health informatics and the potential to accelerate health systems transformations. They also emphasize the gains to be made by partnering faculty members teaching in DNP and PhD programs in ways that model for students how rapid translation from research to practice can occur.

These IOM reports (2011, 2012a, 2012b) support and advance the imperative for linking science with practice by optimizing the power of informatics and new scientific directions. The reports suggest areas that should be considered for development of faculty teaching in DNP programs. For example, the five goals of the Strategic Plan and Priorities: Strategic Plan 2010–2015 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [US DHHS], 2010) clarify the plan to accomplish the transition toward learning health systems as described by the IOM (2007 IOM (2012a). These five goals (US DHHS, 2010, “Organization of This Publication,” para. 1) are to:

  • Strengthen health care.
  • Advance scientific knowledge and innovation.Advance the health, safety, and well-being of the American people.
  • Increase efficiency, transparency, and accountability of HHS [Health and Human Services] programs.
  • Strengthen the nation’s Health and Human Services infrastructure and workforce.

These five goals align with the goals indicated in the US DHHS, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (2011) document, Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan 2011–2015 (pp. 4–5):

  • Goal I: Achieve adoption and information exchange through meaningful use of health IT [information technology].
  • Goal II: Improve care, improve population health, and reduce health care costs through the use of health IT.
  • Goal III: Improve confidence and trust in health IT.
  • Goal IV: Empower individuals with health IT to improve their health and the health care system.
  • Goal V: Achieve rapid learning and technological advancement.

The US DHHS (2010) health goals and the accompanying Federal Health IT (US DHHS, 2011) goals are evidence of our evolution into what Hey, Tansley, and Tolle (2009) referred to as the “fourth paradigm of discovery” (p. xi); that is, eScience. Hey et al. (2009) suggested that advanced computing capabilities will make increasingly sophisticated scientific collaborations possible and that scientists will have access to massive databases, such as those from nursing and medical clinical care, from which they can investigate a wide range of phenomena. These computing capacities will ultimately speed the translation of scientific findings to practice. The premise of this paradigm is that scientific advances will depend on scientists’ skills as collaborators and partners, their ability to work with technicians and clinicians, and their understanding of database analysis, workflow management, use of cloud computing, and visualization (Hey et al., 2009). An example of this can be found on the Fourth Paradigm Web site ( http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/fourthparadigm). We believe that faculty development programs for faculty teaching in DNP programs should address strategies for accomplishing these collaborative goals related to practice improvement through scientific advancement and health informatics.

The National Institutes of Health, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ Clinical and Translational® Science Award (CTSA, n.d.) program is fully aligned with and potentiates eScience. The CTSA program consists of 60 competitively designated academic homes for clinical and translational research ( https://www.ctsacentral.org/institutions). The collaborations made possible across these CTSAs institutions create mechanisms to rapidly translate the results of clinical and translational research into clinical practice and benefit population health. A particularly supportive resource is the CTSA Nurse Scientist Thematic Special Interest Group ( https://www.ctsacentral.org/committee/ctsa-nurse-scientist), which aims to expand the substantive involvement of clinical and translational nursing science within the CTSA institutions. Based on an initial report of nurse scientist engagement in the CTSA institutions, it appears that meaningful participation in and contributions to the work of these new organizational forms is occurring (Sampselle, Knafl, Jacob, & McCloskey, 2013). The collaborations that are emerging and their potential to improve practice through research suggest that faculty development for teaching in DNP programs should address creating partnerships with PhD-prepared nurse scientists and interprofessional colleagues.

The fundamental infrastructure underlying these dramatic changes is information technology and informatics. Consistent with AACN’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006), the imperative to establish strong informatics and health information technology competencies and learning strategies that support the knowledge and skills appropriate for eScience is clear. Faculty dialogues must challenge the treatment of data, information, and knowledge (i.e., informatics) as simply a skill to fostering a fundamental shift in understanding the data, information, and knowledge that drive discoveries and the excellence of our profession. The interrelationship among the US DHHS (2010) goals, the Federal Health IT goals (US DHHS, 2011), and the goals of the CTSA (n.d.) demand synergy and complementarity between DNP- and PhD-prepared faculty and research and clinical scholarship. The informatics expertise essential for students also necessitates the informatics competency of faculty as well at the generalist level for all faculty, complemented by the expert level supported by informatics faculty experts.

Conclusion

This article has focused on the professional development of faculty teaching in DNP programs, challenged by the eScience paradigm shift, health system transformation, and the redefinition of how health research and scholarship will be conducted. The combined revolutions occurring across our tripartite missions present sizable changes and indicate the need to support ongoing learning and development of faculty. The development of DNP faculty calls for immediate attention, resourcing, and partnerships from academic and clinical leaders. Most importantly, we must also ask what professional learning and development is required for aspiring and sitting deans of schools of nursing; these leaders are the essential compasses that are critical in determining, maintaining, and resourcing the academic transformations.

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