International Practice Development Journal


Title of ArticleThird-generation professional doctorates in nursing: the move to clarity in learning product differentiation
Type of ArticleOriginal Practice Development and Research
Author/sAndrew Cashin, Mary Casey, Greg Fairbrother, Iain Graham, Lindesay Irvine, Brendan McCormack and Debra Thoms
ReferenceVolume 7, Issue 2, Article 4
Date of PublicationNovember 2017
Keywordsdoctor of nursing, evidence-based emancipatory practice development, nurse practitioner, nursing, practice development, professional doctorate

Context: Professional doctorates have been a part of the academic landscape for many years. Over this time, their focus, structure and mode of delivery have changed significantly as the terrain of professional practice has developed. In this paper we articulate this development over time through discussion of the evolution of first- and second-generation professional doctorates, and argue that there is a need for a third-generation doctorate with greater clarity regarding focus, structure and mode of delivery, in the context of advanced professional practice.

Aims: A scoping review was undertaken of the development of professional doctorates in the discipline of nursing to inform thinking with regard to future design work for a post-masters (nurse practitioner endorsement) professional doctorate.

Conclusion: In the context of the absence of any identified published outcome-based evidence of the value of first- or second-generation professional doctorates in general, and specifically in nursing, a third-generation evolution is proposed. This is based on the conclusion that the lack of identified outcomes is based not only on the axiomatic absence of research, but also that this may be symptomatic of a prevailing lack of clarity in programme design. A third-generation professional doctorate for nursing offers an opportunity to focus on congruence and internal consistency between the aims of the programme, learning outcomes, learning content and design, and the assessment.

Implications for practice development:

  • The third-generation professional doctorate would no longer need to be distinguished from other degrees via an expression of what it is not, but rather would set out what it is
  • The educational product, with clear processes and content that are congruent with the course aims, could be clearly described as a self-contained entity more capable of producing measurable outcomes
  • Practice development is an integral part of the learning product through being a prescribed method in the research component of the course

This article by Andrew Cashin, Mary Casey, Greg Fairbrother, Iain Graham, Lindesay Irvine, Brendan McCormack and Debra Thoms is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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