Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctor of Nursing Practice Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Kathleen Kalb


Doctor of Nursing Practice


This systems change project (SCP) began in ―real-time‖ nursing faculty consultation work in the community setting. It was in the midst of what in academic language is considered service scholarship (or the scholarship of engagement) that I began to reconsider what is meant by a ―practice-focused‖ doctorate degree in nursing.

How do doctor of nursing practice (DNP) prepared nursing faculty participate in a socially just manner in health care systems changes? More importantly, what moral tenets and knowledge practices shape participation in societal and community life for DNPs?

These questions are essential to the development of the DNP role in academic nursing settings, both in the educational curricular preparation of DNP students and in the actuation of the DNP role by nursing graduates who chose academic life. Questions such as these are being voiced by nursing academics across university settings. The answers to these questions surpass educational preparation. On one hand, the answers to these questions lie between the societal and professional impetus for the development of a non-research doctorate. On the other hand, answers to these sorts of questions originate in nursing‘s rich historical ancestry of women‘s caring practices and ways of knowing and being that unify caring practice and community service (i.e., activist, social reformers, healers, teachers). Ultimately, the present and past weave together to create an emerging understanding of DNP caring practice. This project takes a hermeneutic approach to change. My goal was to open up a space to ask philosophical questions about the scholarly nature of doctoral nursing practice.

This SCP revealed that DNP studies unfold as a process of self-actualization as DNP students question their assumptions, values, and beliefs, and gain new understandings of nursing theory and philosophy, political, economic, and social discourses. A framework for DNP self-actualization was revealed and a potential model for DNP charism was shaped.