Why is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree the right choice for your career?

Date: February 24, 2017

Many professionals choose to advance their career in the nursing field by pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree. This advanced post-graduate degree is ideal for nurses who want to specialize in a particular area of nursing in a short educational time frame. However, nurses who want to become experts in their particular field or area should consider getting a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Not only is a DNP the highest degree offering in clinical practice for nurses, but it will open up a wide range of career opportunities for interested professionals.

The different types of doctoral programs
Two of the main types of doctoral nursing programs are a DNP and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing. Completing a doctoral program can take anywhere from three to six years depending on the type of program. Both offer opportunities for career advancement, higher salaries, diverse career pathways and research opportunities.

DNP and Ph.D. programs prepare graduates for very different career paths. For example, DNP professionals are committed to improving patient outcomes and translating evidence-based strategies into clinical practice, whereas nurses who hold Ph.D.s are prepared to conduct research and teach at a university level.

Why should you pursue a doctoral degree in nursing?
A doctoral degree in nursing is the right choice for any professional hoping to advance their career prospects. In additional to direct patient care, nurses who obtain a DNP degree can expect to manage staff members, develop procedures and policies, conduct research, hold leadership roles and educate patients or the public about health care issues or problems.

While not to be undertaken lightly, a doctoral degree is the right choice for nurses who want to advance their career, earn higher salaries, enter into a specialized field or have a more “big picture” approach to quality care. For example, Ph.D. graduates may enter into higher education teaching roles to educate the next generation of nurses or conduct dynamic research for a health care agency or think tank.

After earning a DNP degree, graduates will be able to implement appropriate advanced practice nursing concepts in a health care environment and promote leadership within the health care system. They also will be able to collaborate and influence policy improvements on a local and national level, as well as foster change to boost the quality of patient care. Essentially, DNP professionals are individuals creating strategies and policies that impact the next generation of nursing care.

Why is the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree the right choice?

What job opportunities will you have?
Both the DNP and Ph.D. degrees are referred to as “terminal degrees,” which means that they are the highest degree offerings in the field. As the highest degree you can earn in nursing, you likely will not encounter significant difficulty finding positions upon graduation.

Not only are doctoral-level nurses in high demand, but the areas of practice are seemingly endless. From governmental agencies to small private practices, you could enter into many workplaces and industries because of your degree. While many Ph.D. holders enter into teaching in higher education, DNP and some Ph.D. graduates enter some of the following common fields:

  • Public health departments: This option is perfect for graduates who do not want to work with patients but rather want to impact policy and health care standards. With a doctoral, nurses can work in public health offices creating evidence-based strategies to current health issues or problems plaguing the system. They may work for governmental agencies enacting laws or influencing policy-makers on a local or national level.
  • Research facilities: Nurses with Ph.D.s frequently find themselves conducting research regarding health issues facing patients. These individuals might be working to find cures for various illnesses or epidemics, such as the Ebola or Zika outbreaks. They also might be researching and releasing innovative medical discoveries.
  • Primary care facilities and hospitals: Doctoral-level nurses play a large role in influencing patient treatment plans. Instead of tending to patients one on one, these nurses may lead research efforts and create new policies for better quality of care throughout a hospital or other health care facility. Nurses who opt for a more administrative approach to their degree might even be involved in management or executive-level decisions.
  • Private practices: The specialized nature of doctoral-level nurses makes them ideal choices for certain private practices. This career option is great for nurses who don’t want to work in a corporate or large health care environment. They benefit from a higher-paying management role without having to work in a busy hospital or long-term care facility.

This list of career options is by no means exhaustive for anyone pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing. Depending on the focus area and field experience, nurses can enter into any position, ranging from health care management roles to policy advocates. The career possibilities for anyone with an advanced degree in nursing are simply extensive.

Why is a DNP degree right for you?
The American Colleges of Nursing explained that the key benefits and focuses of a DNP program are to develop advanced skills for complex practices and leadership roles, to offer enhanced knowledge to improve nursing and patient outcomes, to provide advanced credentials for nurses who do not need or want a strong research focus and to improve the health care environment as a whole. Nurses who want to benefit from advanced knowledge and skills in the field should consider working toward a DNP degree.

DNP graduates often have higher salaries, as well. According to Payscale, nurses who earned a DNP degree earned an average of $98,862 following their graduation, as compared to the average nursing instructor salary for Ph.D. holders at $57,583.

Nurses who are considering pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing should look into Bradley University’s online DNP program. This degree will support ambitious current or future nurses who want to deliver the highest quality of advanced care for their patients.

Contact one of our program representatives today to learn about how a doctoral degree in nursing, specifically the DNP degree with Bradley University’s rigorous courses and networking offerings, can prepare nurses to expand their clinical expertise.

Sources
http://www.bradley.edu/academic/departments/nursing/online/dnp/

http://onlinedegrees.bradley.edu/nursing/dnp/

http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/dnp

http://www.payscale.com/career-news/2013/06/nurse-practitioner-vs-doctor-of-nursing-practice-infographic

http://www.aacn.nche.edu/publications/position/DNPEssentials.pdf

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/721898 (PhD vs DNP, Research vs Clinical: The Battle Begins…Again)

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Degree=Doctorate_(PhD),_Nursing/Salary#by_Job

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BRADLEY UNIVERSITY'S ONLINE DEGREES
DOWNLOAD BROCHURE