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degree-of-interest: Doctor of Nursing Practice

Reach The Summit Of Your Nursing Career With A DNP

Nursing looking at x-ray
Close-up of a nurse examining X-ray report in hospital

To reach the pinnacle of their careers, many nursing professionals are turning towards the pursuit of a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). The DNP is one of three doctorate degree programs available to nurses in the United States. 

DNP degree is generally more clinically oriented than a PhD or DNS degree. The DNP degree program is more focused on practice-based training in the clinical applications of higher-level nursing expertise.

If you want to learn more about a DNP degree and see how it can help you reach your career goals in nursing, keep reading. In this article, you’ll discover how a Doctor of Nursing Practice can help you climb to the top of the nursing career ladder.

What Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctoral-level degree for nursing professionals. It’s one of the highest levels of education one can acquire in the field of nursing. Most colleges and universities require DNP applicants to have a master’s degree because the DNP program builds on the master’s curricula. Some schools will accept students with only a bachelor’s degree, but such programs take substantially longer to complete.

The DNP program and its associated studies expand a nurse’s knowledge of healthcare practice, policy and ethics, preparing them for the highest levels of nursing practice. The DNP program guides nurses to apply their skills and knowledge to a wide variety of careers including non-clinical options, such as that of administrator, practitioner, and educator.

Careers Opportunities for DNPs

Whether you choose to pursue a hands-on clinical role or one that leads and creates policy, a DNP degree opens the door to various career paths.

Clinical Roles for the DNP

Many DNP professionals continue to build their careers as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). This allows them to continue working directly with patients; however, they often specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and management of a specific type of patient care.

Nursing students who work in clinical roles as DNPs will typically pursue careers as:

  • Certified nurse practitioners 
  • Clinical nurse specialists 
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists 
  • Certified nurse-midwives 

Most DNPs in these positions will work in hospitals, physicians’ offices, and outpatient care centers. Some DNPs even work as primary care providers in the states that allow them to do so. Many of these roles give the DNP a substantial amount of independence.

Non-Clinical Roles for the DNP

Non-clinical DNP professions emphasize management, leadership, policymaking, and other non-bedside career paths. Nurses who wish to take on administrative or leadership roles should think about DNP programs that focus on business administration or organizational leadership options.

Non-clinical roles for DNPs exist in general medical hospitals; however, they may work in other settings as well. Non-clinical DNPs may hold a variety of positions, including:

  • Nurse manager/nurse administrator 
  • Executive nurse leader 
  • Nurse informaticist 
  • Clinical trainer 
  • Professor in a nursing program

Once the DNP has been achieved, there is still room for career advancement. For example, you may choose to narrow your practice focus with a subspecialty certification or add more specialty certifications.

Earning a DNP Is More Important Than Ever

Medical knowledge is constantly changing and staying current on evolving best practices requires a mastery of the subject matter. Patient care is complex, and ever-increasing industry-wide changes in healthcare are shifting more responsibilities onto nurses. Personnel shortages have led to difficult and growing intellectual burdens on nursing leadership. Nurse leaders face overly high expectations. In such settings, the DNP program offers exceptional preparation for advanced clinical practice.

In today’s evolving healthcare system, DNPs are required to assume larger roles in advocacy and problem-solving. They are expected to act as a liaison with other medical professionals and other areas of medicine. This increased responsibility leads to enhanced pay as well as increased advancement opportunities, especially as current DNPs begin to retire.

Advantages of Pursuing Doctor of Nursing Practice

  • Marketability as a nurse leader
  • Opportunities for advanced training in a clinical environment
  • A DNP will eventually be required for credentialing of nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives and for other advanced practice nursing specialties, which currently only require an MSN

Increased pay is another advantage. Due to an aging population, a shortage of physicians is expected. This translates into increased demand for DNPs to fill in the gaps. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage is $59.51, or $123,780 per year.

Earn Your Doctor of Nursing Practice at Carson-Newman University

If you are interested in learning more about the Doctor of Nursing Practice program, reach out to Carson-Newman University by requesting more information today.

Next CPS Blog Post

How Will A Master Of Education Help My Career? Why An M.Ed. Is Worthwhile? 

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