For those working in the field of nursing, it may be desirable to complete additional education that may allow you to take on new positions or provide a higher level of care to patients. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree may be the way to do that. This type of degree may help you to learn new skills and develop your skills in an area that is important to you.
What Is a DNP?
A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program aims to help prepare people who are already nurses to provide advanced clinical practice skills in more leadership and managerial style roles. They typically work within healthcare organizations and provide a range of services to patients as well as other nurses and doctors.
Is a DNP a PhD?
The DNP degree path is often about the same as a Doctor of Philosophy or PhD program. While the content might be different based on the topic studied, students completing a DNP are obtaining a degree path that is focused heavily on clinical practice and nursing practice. That’s unlike a traditional PhD which usually focuses heavily on research instead.
A DNP student may be less likely to engage in nursing in the field or teach at a higher education level. Rather, they may be spending more time working with patient care and providing clinical experience for NP and nursing students. Some may also serve on the board of a hospital or work in an administrative position in a hospital or medical office. They may also work in areas of emerging health policies.
Is a DNP Worth It?
Completing a DNP may be an excellent way for some nurses to complete their education and qualify for various positions in the field. As a doctoral degree, it is often the pinnacle of the nursing educational path for many students. That is specifically true for those who are looking for nursing practice-based education. This could allow those who have a DNP to be at the same level as other healthcare providers who hold a doctoral degree. That may include those working as psychologists, pharmacists, and physical therapists.
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What Are Career Options for DNP Students?
Those who earn a DNP may have more education and skills than other nurses in their field. That may prepare students for various clinical roles as well as nonclinical roles in the industry. Some may continue to work in nursing positions but tend to take on education and skills for other nurses or take on leadership positions in these nursing roles. Others may elect to work in outpatient centers or in medical suites providing care.
Some who decide to move into nonclinical positions may be able to earn their education and focus their career on administrative positions in medical facilities. Some may work in policy design and implementation. Others may work to teach others nursing. There may be a lot of options for many DNP graduates.
Consider some examples:
Working as a Certified Nurse Practitioner
Some students may elect to take this route, completing their CNP education. This often allows them to provide primary, acute, and specialty patient care. They may concentrate on a patient population or provide services for a larger group of people. Then, they may work in doctor’s offices, podiatrists, chiropractors, and other areas. Some may also work in colleges or professional schools, school clinics, or hospice care settings.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
Some DNP students may complete a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) path. This path aims to allow the graduate to administer regional, local, and general anesthesia. They may work as a part of the health care team for newborn deliveries, surgical procedures, and trauma stabilization. They may work in specialty medical settings as well.
What Type of Concentration Options Exist for DNP Students?
Consider the concentrations available when considering a college to earn a doctorate in nursing studies of any type. These may allow students to focus much of their education in areas that may be directly related to the career they plan to have later on. Some popular concentrations for DNP students may include pediatrics, family or individual care across a lifespan, neonatal, psychology or mental health, adult-gerontology, or women’s health.
DNP students may choose from a wide range of opportunities in fields such as:
- Various medical settings, including doctor’s offices, medical and surgical locations, and emergency rooms
- Patient population options including pediatrics, adult, and gerontology
- Problem specific options include wound care or mental health
- Disease specific paths such as diabetes, heart disease, oncology, or neurology
Who May Benefit From a DNP?
Not all nurses need to complete a DNP degree. Those who are already licensed may wish to continue their education to obtain the PhD equivalent. This may allow them to concentrate their education in a specific field or gain more insight into working in healthcare administration. Some may wish to teach in the field, too, which may require a DNP to do so.
What Are the Potential Benefits of a DNP?
Completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice program may provide a student with a wide range of benefits depending on their career goals. It may allow them to switch career paths to an area that is more interesting to their needs. Some might take on leadership opportunities. Completing a DNP may also simply be a way to showcase your skills and abilities by earning this high level degree.
Other benefits of completing a DNP may include:
- Qualifying for higher leadership positions in a medical or healthcare setting
- Choosing a different concentration than what they are doing right now allowing them to branch off into a different area
- Gaining new opportunities such as in administrative roles or in healthcare policy creation
If you are a nurse now and wish to complete your education, DNP online courses may help you to do that. These courses may allow you to learn while working or living at home. Because the DNP is less research-intense, you may be able to complete it within a matter of years. If you are thinking about it, consider the opportunities available to you through several colleges and universities.
- Specializations: Nursing Education, Nursing Informatics, Nursing Leadership
- Set your own deadlines and move at your own speed
- 95% of nursing alumni are satisfied with their Capella education (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2019-20)
- Take advantage of some of the nation’s most affordable tuition rates, while earning a degree from a private, nonprofit, NEASC accredited university
- Qualified students with 2.5 GPA and up may receive up to $20K in grants & scholarships
- Multiple term start dates throughout the year. 24/7 online classroom access.
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