Credential creep -- do you really NEED that doctorate

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by PsychPhD, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

  2. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    I read the criticism part of that article shortly before posting. What I find most interesting is that the discussion page is much larger than the actual (very short) article.
  3. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Money, money, money, money, money, money! :eek:
  4. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member


    It is gratifying to have some vindication I am not the only one with concerns (as some have insinuated)!

    (It is also interesting that the Wikipedia suggests that this is yet another controversy specific to the U.S.
    We seem have created a cottage industry of inciting controversy.)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2009
  5. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    Would an Ivy League school such as Columbia put its reputation on the line for money alone?

    Because as far as lobbying goes, proponents of the DNP don't seem to be doing much of a job, at least not on Wikipedia.
  6. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Bucks trumps bureaucracy

    Given the sheer size of a university like Columbia, the individual colleges (e.g. law, medicine, nursing, liberal arts, etc.) likely have a significant amount of autonomy in developing their programs. If the nursing school says "We need the DNP and it will bring in X dollars to the university" would the senior administration really parse the specifics of a discipline? After all, the administrators of the nursing school are supposed to be the experts in that field.
  7. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    Patient confusion? If I had a problem with my knee, I wouldn't go to an ophthalmologist to fix it. How is this different from the patient being able to distinguish an MD from a DNP?
  8. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    Ok. If we accept that however, and if we accept the premise that DNP programs really are not-proven-and-more-trouble-than-they're-worth, and the faculty in the nursing schools still recommended them, then the faculty either

    1) are not really experts in the field
    2) have ulterior motives and/or are mislead and are not to be trusted

    I don't think point 1 can be given much consideration, both given the reputation of the two mentioned universities, and their graduate nursing programs specifically, at least according to the US News rankings (Johns Hopkins #4, Columbia #19).

    So that leaves us with the point #2. Now that would be a serious accusation that would need far more proof than the "could be" and "might be" arguments I see in the Wikipedia article.
  9. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Do you think that Ivy League schools are immune to the need for money? :eek: Universities (Ivy or not) are big business and they'll do anything for a buck. :rolleyes:
  10. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    Well I can partly accept that when it comes to those non-credit certificate programs that some of the big universities seem to be using as a money-making tool. However, actual degree programs and moreover, at doctoral level? Somehow I don't see their departments of mechanical engineering offering a DPP (Doctor of Plumbing Practice) any time soon no matter what the potential demand is.

    Here are some other schools from the US News nursing rankings 2007 I mentioned above offering DNP.

    #1 University of Washington
    #2 University of California--San Francisco
    #7 Yale University (planning to offer it)

    On the other hand, University of Pennsylvania (#3) and UCLA (#12) seem to be offering only PhDs.

    A clear example of the "might-be-could-be-may-not-be" type of argument I mentioned above, which is basically playing on fear. The same kind of concern can be raised for virtually any degree program. That's why there are accrediting professional and other bodies to define standards a particular program should conform to. Would an MBA from an elite AACSB school like to be painted with this kind of a brush only because there are not-so-wonderful MBA programs out there?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2009
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Universities are in the education business: if a university can, by offering a particular course of studies leading to a particular degree title, make enough money to justify their costs, then the degree will be offered; if a university cannot make enough money to justify its costs of offering certain degrees, then it will not offer those degrees.
  12. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    And yet:

    I fail to see how that could be explained purely on economic grounds. :)
  13. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    And your interest is ... ?


    Given that you indicate you are located in Sarajevo, several thousand miles from Columbia or any of the US universities you are referencing, why do you seem vested in validating the utility of a nursing degree that does not appear to be even offered in Europe?
  14. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Interesting - But Princeton does have business related degrees though the school of Finance or the school of Operations Research & Financial Engineering. You can also earn degrees in public law through the Department of Politics.
  15. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    I believe you misunderstand me a bit. :) Personally I find a degree that requires only two semesters post-master's to be rather short to be called a doctorate. However, given that you already have MDs and JDs etc. this might be something specific to US education (although the situation with MDs is somewhat comparable to some European countries, including mine).

    What I do find problematic is the approach taken to question the validity of DNP degrees, even their very existence. To me, some of those arguments I've seen so far, from a purely neutral perspective, sound more like "propaganda spin" and angry talk than actual criticism. By using such arbitrary arguments as "hey some DNP degrees can be earned entirely online so any DNP must be no good, no good at all" (I'm referring to the Wiki article), the opponents of DNP seem to be doing themselves a disservice. There's a saying where I come from "the louder you yell, the less you're heard". :)

    And as for why I am discussing this at all being so far away etc, well, mainly personal interest and passing the time. Also, some of my friends have studied at some American universities, so that also adds to my interest in how US education works. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2009
  16. Malajac

    Malajac Member

    Ah, I seem to be wrong about the length being two semesters. I was assuming the 38/40 credits or thereabouts would be spread with the workload similar to undergraduate studies which does not seem to be the case everywhere. Also, European Bologna doctorate which is typically 3 years is sometimes assigned 180 ECTS which roughly means 30 ECTS per semester (app. 15 semester hour credits). *

    My mistake! :)

    * This difference in American and European graduate workload is an interesting topic by itself. I believe I could find several UK graduate degrees (Master's though) done in one year full time and carrying the equivalent of 90 ECTS, or 45 sh credits. I wonder if there exists a US Master's with 45 credits that can be done in one year full-time? Are European universities, UK at least, more "generous" with their credits, or is this a consequence of sh and ECTS measuring different things?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2009
  17. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    Ahh, thank you ...

    Indeed, I was misunderstanding the tone of your comments, which did appear to have the motive of reflexively supporting the concept of the DNP. While your physical location (hello, global village) should have no bearing, we of the online discussion groups have become sensitized to "trolls" -- people who 1) deliberately stir up passions for no reason other than to watch the emotional backlash; or 2) attempt shield their true identity/affiliation so as to appear independent when, in fact, s/he holds a direct stake in whatever is being discussed.

    I apologize for misinterpreting your intentions.

    To clarify, as one who has both taught and learned via distance delivery methods, I have no issue with coursework being offered in that venue.

    One of my major concerns with the DNP (or DPT, or DAud, or DPharm) is that they came into existence not to fill an educational/clinical void, but simply because they could. In today's New York Times, there is an article about US banks manipulating debit card transactions to basically cause people to overdraft their accounts, racking up huge fees (i.e. profits) for the banks. While, on the integrated comment board, some people chastised those stung by overdraft fees as being irresponsible with their money, others pointed out that the banks' argument that it is not possible to provide realtime updates about account balances is technlogically impossible is specious as it is apparently done in Europe. Bottom line, the US banks do it because they can and it is quite profitable (the fees amount to a loan at 3,500% interest). I believe credential creep is essentially cut from the same mold.

    As some of the criticism from inside the nursing profession itself spells out, the creation of the nurse practitioner was in response to a void -- a shortage of primary care physicians. (Though some do argue that the nurse practitioner was, in fact, a hijacking of physician assistants which came into being through the military, who couldn't place a physician everywhere one was needed.) Furthermore, the existing system of Master's level training for NPs and doctoral level for researchers/teachers works perfectly well; there is no demonstrated need to elevate the training of NPs to the doctoral level. Finally, examination the DNP curriculum itself reveals -- not that some of it is distance delivered -- but that much of it does not focus on advanced level clinical skills/concepts but management/advocacy theory. Marketed as a "practice" degree, it is actually more accurately enhanced training in political lobbying. That most certainly is not the case in the medical school curriculum for physician training.

    I have nothing against people pursuing education for self-enrichment -- or career advancement, for that matter. But when programs are created that directly impact others, i.e. healthcare, this is no longer (pardon the pun) an academic exercise. Real people can be hurt by those trained in programs of dubious value. If a DNP (or DPT, or DAud, or DPharm) truly represents the most rigorous, intense, complex training to prepare practitioners to provide the highest level of care to the most complicated cases, I'm all for it.

    But please don't send me someone trained as "nursing lobbyist" to do a physician's work.
  18. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    Maybe the reason Brown's founding document discourage the founding of a business school or a law school is because Brown was founded by a Baptist minister.
  19. Malajac

    Malajac Member


    Global village indeed! No need to apologize, I might have come off as a bit aggressive, sorry about that. :)

    The fact is that America is still the center of the world in many ways, and while Europe (even us here in the Balkans) does seem to be standardizing its education on its own model, it is still very possible that what is happening in the United States today could probably start appearing in Europe tomorrow. Hence, it's nice to be on top of things.

    I must admit I have not yet fully grasped the concept of the so-called professional doctorate such as a DBA or DNP etc. and its difference from the traditional academic PhD. I'll have to read up some more on that, because those explanations of their differences (at least DBA vs PhD) I've read so far (the emphasis being on applied rather than theoretical research) do not fully explain to me why it is a distinct animal from the PhD.

    More to the point, from a European perspective. The current European model of higher education is usually defined as having 3+2+3 or 4+1+3 years of study (Bachelor's plus Master's plus Doctorate). The path to the DNP seems to be 4+1+2 (BSN + MSN + DNP), so not exactly equal, but not bad either in terms of total years of education.

    Now I was wondering myself if the curriculum for the DNP is truly at doctoral level, why introduce a whole new degree when another year of study (project, dissertation?) would have been enough to get to the "real" PhD level. Given that PhD degrees in this field seem to already exist, it just seems a bit strange. It seems DNP is what is sometimes called M.Phil, PhD coursework without the dissertation, plus this label of "professional doctorate".

    If the coursework is at the appropriate doctoral level. If the "professional doctorate" label is used to effectively water down the curriculum, that I guess would be another matter. I have no doubt you are talking from your own experience and research when you describe DNP curricula as being somewhat lacking, but I was wondering if this is the case even at those elite schools I mentioned. I have to admit I am far outside my field of expertise here, so I can't really evaluate the curricula.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2009
  20. PsychPhD

    PsychPhD New Member

    More than that ...

    Actually, the "average" US model would be 4/2/5 (BA/MA/PhD) or 4/4+ (BA/MD) remembering that after the MD there are 3 - 10 more years of residency training.

    As currently constructed, one could arrive at the DNP thus:
    1 - 1 1/2 years nursing school/associate's degree
    1 - 1 1/2 years "transitional" BSN
    1 - 1 1/2 years MSN
    2 - 3 year DNP

    So about six years total with the clinical rotations included.

    Can you see where the quality concern arises?

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