Strategic Innovation Between PhD and DNP Programs: Collaboration, Collegiality, and Shared Resources

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Background At least 111 schools and colleges of nursing across the nation provide both PhD and DNP programs (AACN, 2014a). Collaboration between nurses with doctoral preparation as researchers (PhD) and practitioners (DNP) has been recommended as essential to further the profession; that collaboration can begin during the educational process. Purpose The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and implementation of successful DNP and PhD program collaboration, and to share the results of that collaboration in an educational setting. Methods Faculty set strategic goals to maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of both new DNP and existing PhD programs. The goals were to promote collaboration and complementarity between the programs through careful capstone and dissertation differentiation, complementary residency activities, joint courses and inter-professional experiences; promote collegiality in a blended on-line learning environment through shared orientation and intensive on-campus sessions; and maximize resources in program delivery through a supportive organizational structure, equal access to technology support, and shared faculty responsibilities as appropriate to terminal degrees. Discussion Successes such as student and faculty accomplishments, and challenges such as managing class size and workload, are described. Conclusions Collaboration, collegiality and the sharing of resources have strengthened and enriched both programs and contributed to the success of students, faculty. These innovative program strategies can provide a solid foundation for DNP and PhD collaboration.