Doctor of nursing practice exam challenged by some physicians

Last year, the National Board of Medical Examiners began to offer a new doctor of nursing practice certification exam, based partly on the final step of the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). After the first administration of the test, which 50 percent of candidates passed, the group behind the exam said it was comparable to that final piece of the USMLE.

Since then, this claim has stirred up some resistance from the American Medical Association, leaders of which are arguing that such claims are "misleading to the public" and "totally invalid." More to the point, they're afraid--with some reason--that nurses will use this certification as a wedge to demand scope-of-practice expansions from regulators and legislative bodies.

Meanwhile, many states already grant advanced practice nurses the right to independently treat and diagnose patients, as well as prescribe medications, a trend that should continue to advance given primary care shortages.

Nurses, for their part, seem to like the DNP degree. More than 90 DNP programs were being offered at nursing schools nationwide in 2008, up from 53 in 2007.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this American Medical News piece

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