Are you thinking about undertaking a DNP, Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program, but are unsure about whether it is the right decision for you?
If yes, then you have come to the right place.
There are many misconceptions and myths surrounding the DNP degree, one of which is that it is an inferior option to a PhD in Nursing. However, this isn’t the case.
Another is that it’s a way to get more money out of nursing graduates or that it is simply not worth the money, time, and effort.
If you have heard any of this false information then you may be concerned that this type of advanced nursing education is not going to help you achieve your career goals within the nursing profession.
Fortunately, if this is the case for you, the below article will help you to understand exactly what a DNP degree entails, plus, how it can help you to progress in your nursing career.
From understanding what a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is, to how you can get one, to how much you can expect to earn once you have qualified, keep reading to discover what you can expect from a DNP degree. It will help you decide whether this further education option is right for you and your career.
The ultimate goal of this advanced nursing degree is to create tomorrow’s leaders in nursing. As one of the highest levels of nursing degrees currently available, it will prepare you to work both in a clinical setting and within a leadership role in the healthcare industry.
As well as learning the skills needed to deliver exceptional patient care, you will also be taught the knowledge needed to influence healthcare policies through effective leadership.
Nursing practice for DNP nurses can include:
Although both of these further education options are considered to be terminal degrees for nurses and both demonstrate that the nurse is a clinical expert in their specific field, there are a few key differences between the two.
A PhD in Nursing is predominantly research-focused and is often seen as the right choice for those who want to get into the education or research side of nursing.
However, if you choose to undertake a DNP degree, you can expect more focus on clinical practice which will prepare you for an advanced role such as a Nurse Practitioner or a Nurse Midwife.
In terms of study, these degrees are also very different in that, with a PhD, you will be required to complete an original research project and a dissertation. In contrast, with a DNP, students must undertake a capstone project as well as immersive clinical practicum.
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN):
“Students studying a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree should have a commitment to a career in practice and/or service leadership with an orientation towards improving outcomes of care.”
“Students studying for a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing should have a commitment to a research career and orientation towards developing new knowledge and establishing a pattern of productive scholarship in the discipline.”
Ultimately, it is up to you to decide which advanced nursing degree you think is better suited to both your career goals and your current skillset.
In determining whether a DNP degree is worthwhile, it’s a good idea to first find out how you can go about attaining one.
Of course, this will be dependent on where you currently are in your nursing career. For example, if you already have a BSN and are working as a registered nurse at the moment, then you can dive right in and start studying for this advanced nursing degree.
However, if you are only just starting out in your nursing career, you will first need to study for your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Although some universities also require you to have a Master’s degree before you can study for your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, you can find excellent BSN – DNP degree tracks that will allow you to study for this qualification without an MSN degree.
The length of time it takes for you to complete a DNP degree will be dependent on your current level of qualifications. If you already have an MSN degree, you can expect to be able to complete your degree in between 1 to 2 years. However, if you are fast-tracking from your BSN degree, it will most likely take between 3 to 4 years.
Where you choose to study for your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree will be dependent on your individual circumstances. That being said, there is an increasing number of R.N.s that are choosing to study for their DNP degree online.
The benefits of undertaking your studies online include:
If you are worried about the advanced level of study that is required for a degree program such as this one, you should be aware that this is a highly advanced and intense degree. Therefore, you need to go into it with a commitment to learn and the motivation to succeed.
You can expect to learn:
For those who are unsure about whether they can cope with pursuing a terminal degree, it can be useful to know what skills will help you get through a degree program of this magnitude.
Although not essential, it can be helpful to have:
The most important question of them all. Why should you invest several years of your life in this particular advanced nursing degree program?
Not 100% sure yet? Let’s take a closer look.
If you feel stuck in your current nursing position, both in terms of your responsibilities and your salary, you will be pleased to know that this degree can open so many doors for you in terms of career progression. In fact, DNP nurse practitioners earn an average yearly salary of $135,830. In comparison, the average annual wage of a registered nurse is $80,085.
As well as an increase in pay, you also have the opportunity to tailor your degree to the area of nursing that interests you the most.
Some of the most popular careers for DNP graduates include:
If you think that having a doctorate in nursing is not that important, then think again. This type of degree program will not only teach you how to elevate yourself as a professional within the nursing sector but will also show you how to improve the entire profession.
As a registered nurse, you may feel passionate about certain aspects of the healthcare industry but have been unable to effect any real change. However, once you have a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, you will have enhanced credibility, meaning you can actively participate in boards of healthcare organizations and have your voice heard.
What could be more rewarding than having a career where you can actually make a difference to the next generation of nurses? Fortunately, this dream can easily become a reality with the help of a DNP degree.
Once you are qualified, you can expect to be able to land a top-level position in areas such as administration, management, or even academia. All of which will involve you having the opportunity to help mold the next generation of nurses.
Furthermore, if you feel like you can actually make a difference to the future of the healthcare system, you are more likely to enjoy job satisfaction. This may be why the role of Nurse Practitioner was voted as #5 in the 100 Best Jobs in 2020 by the U.S. News & World Report.
Although many believe money to be the most important factor when it comes to picking a career, studies have shown that it is more important to choose a job that you are passionate about if you want long-term job satisfaction.
The same applies to your chosen degree. You need to pick a degree program that allows you to study an area of healthcare that you love and are passionate about. Thankfully, if you choose to undertake a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, there are many different areas of expertise that you can choose to focus on, from pediatrics to mental health, family medicine to gerontology.
If you are unsure about which specific area of nursing you want to study, you might want to try sitting down and making a list of your current responsibilities as a nurse. Which aspects of your job do you enjoy the most? Which ones can you see yourself still being passionate about in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years?
If you are fed up with working for someone else and feel more than ready to branch out on your own, then a DNP degree can help you to achieve this. In many states in the U.S, graduates with a Doctor in Nursing Practice can now open up their own independent clinics with the current trends in legalization, indicating that this may soon be the case for all 50 states of America.
Furthermore, due to a shortage of both physicians and nurse practitioners, the role of DNPs is only set to become even more integral when it comes to primary patient care.
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and therefore, if you want to ensure that you stay relevant, you need to be willing to learn about any new innovations or emerging technologies within the sector.
Fortunately, there is a simple way to do this. Undertake a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program. This level of advanced education focuses predominately on clinical learning alongside research and academic studies. This means that you are in the perfect position to apply what you have learnt to real-life nursing.
Unfortunately, only you can answer that question. Only you know whether you have got what it takes to follow through with a degree of this significance and magnitude.
That being said, if you want to know whether a Doctor of Nursing Practice is worth the investment, then the answer is simple.
Yes, it is.
You can earn more money. Enjoy better job satisfaction and security. Become more respected by your peers and feel a sense of pride that you have managed to achieve one of the highest levels of qualifications in your chosen field.
What more could you want from an advanced nursing qualification?