Discussion: The Doctoral Degree and Professional Nursing Practice In response to the continuous changes in health care today, nurses are charged with staying well informed on many rapidly evolving aspects of patient care. They are also expected to contribute to the improvement of health care quality. Engaging in doctoral education is an admirable way to position oneself for accomplishing this goal, and it can lead to new professional opportunities. Why did you decide to enroll in graduate school? What informed your decision to pursue your chosen degree? How will earning this degree influence your career? This week, you consider the characteristics of various programs, including the DNP and the PhD. The focus of the DNP degree is on clinical practice, whereas the focus of the PhD is on research. In conjunction with other professional colleagues, DNP- and PhD-prepared nurses often collaborate to analyze critical issues and find appropriate ways to address them. This first Discussion provides an opportunity for you to examine what it means to earn a doctorate and how your selected degree program relates to your professional goals. To prepare: Consider the reasons you have chosen to pursue an advanced degree. How do you anticipate that earning this degree will support your professional goals? Reflect on the comments shared by the experts in this week’s media regarding the value of a DNP degree and the various roles available to DNP-prepared nurses, as well as the characteristics of the PhD program and opportunities for PhD-prepared nurses. Based on the information presented this week, have you developed any new ideas or goals for your future? If so, what are they? By Day 3 Post a cohesive response that addresses the following: What does it mean to be a nurse with a practice or research doctorate? What are the expectations associated with this degree? How might this be different for a nurse who holds a different degree? How do these considerations relate to your motivation to pursue a doctoral degree right now?