Healthcare Technology Featured Article

June 02, 2022

What a Doctor of Nursing (DNP) Degree Can Do for Your Nursing Career

A DNP degree is the highest level of education within the nursing profession. It is designed to prepare nurses for leadership roles or to become independent healthcare providers. With such expertise, they can shape the future of healthcare in the United States.

Nurses who pursue DNP degrees can work in clinical roles as nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, or nurse anesthetists. They can also occupy leadership roles such as nurse administrators, nurse educators, or public health nurses. Here's what a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can do for your nursing career.

Elevates your nursing status

A nurse practitioner starts by becoming a registered nurse before going on to complete an accredited graduate degree. They often use their clinical expertise to diagnose patients, prescribe medication, and treat health conditions without the oversight of a physician.

To become an Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioner (APRN), you have to be keen on advancing your nursing career. An MSN degree is for nurses only looking to specialize clinically while a DNP is ideal for nurses who want to occupy leadership positions in healthcare.

However, some nurses with a DNP degree who don't want academic, or research roles can choose to stay in patient care or clinical practice. They can practice as family nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses, mental health nurses, or gerontology nurse practitioners.

Gives you an advantage over your peers

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2018, 17.1% of registered nurses held a master's degree and only 1.9% had a doctoral degree. Since few nurses have a DNP, you can easily secure senior and leadership positions in the field.

A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree uses a scholarly approach to prepare nurse practitioners for evidence-based research and practice in a clinical setting. Nurses who graduate with such a degree can become educators, administrators, and policy makers.

Advanced Practice Nurses are academically prepared and well-equipped with the specialized skills necessary for working in healthcare autonomously. They can open their own clinics and are authorized to practice without a doctor's supervision in some U.S. states.

You can decide to specialize

A DNP degree gives nurses a competitive advantage and opens doors of opportunities. They can qualify for hands-on leadership roles in hospitals and healthcare centers, nursing schools and colleges, private sector healthcare organizations, government agencies and more.

Nurses who wish to further their education are often discouraged by their busy schedules. But, getting an education doesn't have to be a daunting task. There are plenty of accredited doctor of nursing practice online programs that offer a range of concentrations to choose from.

A nurse who graduates from a doctor of nursing practice program can choose to specialize as a family nurse practitioner, adult nurse practitioner (ANP), psychiatric nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist and neonatal nurse practitioner.

You can influence health policy

Nurses who are interested in shaping public policy should consider getting a DNP degree. As recognized healthcare experts, they are adequately trained to convince policymakers to take a certain course of action. This means that they don't have to remain in a clinical setting.

Nurse practitioners can move into the corporate sector, government, academic or non-profit sector and work on research projects or be involved in shaping health policies. They ensure that elected officials make sound laws and regulations to improve healthcare. 

With a DNP degree, nurses are able to develop policy agendas and understand how to make and influence health policies. Since registered nurses make up the majority of healthcare workers, it's only a great idea for them to influence safe and effective healthcare policies.

You can educate the next generation of nurses

New nurses gain hands-on experience working in the field, often under the guidance of veteran nurses. Nurses with a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degree can choose to become nurse educators who work in nursing colleges, universities, or research institutions. 

Clinical nurse educators are qualified professionals who teach registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. Their academic proficiency and long professional record allow them to provide education, advise students, create curricula, and evaluate programs.

Nurse educators ensure that the next generation of registered nurses are highly skilled and prepared to tackle future challenges in healthcare. They explain complex nursing subjects, provide support, establish learning outcomes, and monitor student progress.

Your earning potential increases

A nurse with an advanced degree such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can make six figures yearly. However, the actual amount depends on the nurse's speciality and years of experience. Nurses with advanced degrees can expect to receive great compensation.

Nursing educators with a DNP are positioned to teach at the master's level or above and also become nursing professors or administrative leaders in a nursing college. According to Payscale, a nursing educator makes a median income of $78,594 annually.

The BLS reports that nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners earned an average income of $123,780 as of May 2021. Clinical nurse leaders are also expected to earn between $85,400 and $104,000 yearly depending on their clinical experience.

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