What is a DNP?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is designed to prepare experts in nursing practice. It is the pinnacle of practice-focused nursing degrees, building upon master’s programs by providing an educational foundation in quality improvement, evidence-based practice, and systems leadership, among others.
DNP stands for Doctor of Nursing Practice. It is a terminal degree that looks at how diseases progress from a clinical perspective. The exact curriculum of a DNP varies depending on the school and chosen specialization. However, it will almost always include diagnostics, advanced practice, and disease treatment. Essentially, DNP graduates are able to become independent practitioners. There are also strong links between the DNP and other types of scientific fields such as medicine, psychology, or dentistry.
While exact job titles vary, a number of descriptions are found throughout the country. These are the Nurse Practitioner or NP (with several dozen different specializations), the certified nurse-midwife or CNM, the certified registered nurse anesthetist or CRNA, and the clinical nurse specialist or CNS. Around 52% of all nurse anesthetist programs currently award the DNP. The other 48% award the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) instead.
How much can you earn?
The salary for someone who has earned a DNP will vary. Nurse practitioners, for instance, earn between $95,000 and $115,000 per year. Nurse educators traditionally earn the least, whereas nurse anesthetists earn the most. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has a state-by-state breakdown of average salaries for advanced practice nurses.
Why get a DNP?
A DNP does more than potentially unlock high-level opportunities that may not be open to nursing professionals with only an MSN. The degree, which commonly takes about two years to complete, can prepare students to become instruments of change and innovation in a complex industry. A DNP helps professionals make sense of the constant changes in health care, ultimately allowing them to develop industry-shaping strategies that can help facilities deliver high-quality health care that improves patient outcomes.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctorate-level degree program that allows nurses to take on top leadership roles in the field of nursing. A relatively new program, it incorporates clinical development opportunities along with traditional research and academic studies. Today, nurses who aspire to advance in their careers are encouraged to either obtain a DNP after their MSN studies or go into a DNP program immediately after they receive their BSN. Earning a DNP requires both time and effort; completing the program takes, on average, between three to five years of intensive study. Although it requires a somewhat lengthy time commitment, there are many benefits to earning a DNP. A nurse with a DNP not only receives higher pay and opportunities for career growth but he or also typically experiences greater job satisfaction and gains a sense of personal achievement.
Here are the top 9 reasons why you should consider pursuing a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) today
1. Boost your nursing career
If you’re the type of person who wants a nursing career filled with opportunities for lifelong learning and growth, earning a DNP will help you fulfill that goal. Typically, DNPs take on various types of leadership roles. They become nursing directors at hospitals; obtain their Nurse Practitioner (NP) license; and in many states, even open their own practice; influence policy-making in public health positions; become nursing educators or managers, among other options. For nurses looking to make a difference and assume more responsibility, a DNP is a great option.
2. Obtain the highest level degree in nursing
A DNP is a terminal degree, which means it’s the highest level of education that you can achieve in the nursing field. Acquiring this degree is not only an ego-boosting achievement, but it also can help you become one of the top specialists in your field, opening opportunities for leadership. DNPs aren’t easy to earn, and it’s a time-consuming course of study. However, experts in nursing predict a large shortage in the number of nurses with the type of skills and expertise that you will obtain in pursuit of this degree. Upon graduation, you will be in high demand, helping you land a job in the location you desire, and at the salary you require. All these factors combine to make the long, difficult course of study worthwhile.
3. Get a salary boost
Of course, all this responsibility and leadership comes with higher pay. On average, an RN who holds a BSN makes approximately $60K per year; NPs with an MSN earn around $80K annually; while nurses who hold a DNP often earn a salary over $100,000. Granted, salary should not be your primary motivation for pursuing the degree, and acquiring it means both a significant time commitment and financial investment. Additionally, leadership positions in nursing are both stressful and demanding; requiring a lot of personal input and sacrifices. However, if you’re passionate about your job, having a good salary to go along with it is a bonus!
Many of the roles that DNPs can pursue are high-level leadership positions that allow them to manage various aspects of a clinic’s health care process. Leadership responsibilities could range from overseeing the nurses who deliver patient care to being involved in running a facility’s operations in an executive role, such as chief nursing officer (CNO). Attaining a DNP equips students with the ability to lead others with confidence. Strong leaders can motivate and inspire others to carry out a facility’s health care strategies and improve patient outcomes.
5. Apply the newest research to practice
Since DNP candidates focus their studies on clinical learning alongside their research and academic studies, they have the perfect opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-life settings. Many go on to practice as Nurse Practitioners (NPs), working in hospitals or clinics, sometimes opening their own practices. As a DNP graduate, you will be up to date with the latest research trends, providing you with the ability to apply current research results to the practical world of nursing, which is one of the reasons that DNP programs were created. Many professionals in the industry hope that highly educated nurses will help bridge the information gap between what happens bedside and the latest developments in research in the academic world of medicine.
A DNP can equip graduates with a heightened ability to break down complex healthcare situations. These professionals can make smart, informed decisions that can provide short-term benefits to a facility and its healthcare strategies while still keeping long-term goals in sight. Ultimately, the ability to efficiently assess difficult scenarios and find innovative solutions can go a long way toward helping a healthcare facility operate efficiently.
7. Assimilate the latest information technology
Because of technology, our world stays in a continual state of transformation. By necessity, the medical field must remain at the forefront of the development and application of new technologies. Possessing comprehensive knowledge of the latest developments in medical research will benefit your career and your ability to do your job. Most DNP programs include a technology learning component in their curriculum, especially in areas of nursing specialization.
8. Educate future nurses
An area of significant shortage in the nursing field, reports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), is the lack of nurses who have the credentials necessary to teach at the university level. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse educator and sharing your knowledge with the future generation of nurses, then obtaining a DNP will give you the opportunity to do so. However, even if you don’t choose to become a nursing teacher or professor, assuming a leadership nursing role will give you the nursing skills to become a mentor for the future generation of nurses.
9. Influence healthcare policy
Healthcare policy is another career path that you may not associate with nursing; however, the development of policy is extremely important to the healthcare industry as a whole. To create effective, functional policy, implement reforms that are beneficial to the field and ensure the implementation and maintenance of proper healthcare standards, policymakers need input from those with deep industry experience. Some nurses choose to apply the knowledge gained from their DNP credentials along with their experience as clinical nurses by influencing healthcare policy and taking on administrative roles in public health.
For the right person, earning a DNP can lead to an extremely rewarding career, both financially and professionally. Nurses who obtain a DNP have the opportunity to lead in the field, whether they opt to continue their career in nursing by working at a hospital, opening their own practice, or branching out to other fields such as education or policy. However, if you’re considering the pursuit of a DNP degree, you should first undertake careful research to understand if you want to commit to the rigorous study required of the program and ensure that you choose the best DNP program for your career aspirations.
“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”- Abigail Adams
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