The Doctor of Nursing Practice Role in Health Care

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The evolving needs of patients and the increasing complexity of health care delivery models have created a demand for many specialized health care professionals, including advanced practice nurses. Highly educated nurse practitioners have an important role, holding a variety of managerial and executive positions that greatly impact the health care industry.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Bradley University’s Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

How DNP-prepared nurses can take on a number of roles to combat the projected physician shortage.

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The Need for Doctorally Prepared Nurses

What is a DNP?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced degree educating nursing in leadership, quality improvement and evidence-based practice.

Why DNP-Prepared Nurses are Needed in Health Care

A shortage of doctors in the U.S. requires nurse leaders with a higher level of education and preparedness. According to a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the U.S. will face a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030. Due to increasing American health care demands, nurses should have the highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to provide a high level of quality care and patient safety. Nurses with advanced education can help greatly, as they may prevent deficits in health care, including preventable medical errors, lack of care for chronic conditions, and poor and limited access to timely care.

Unfortunately, there’s a lack of nursing faculty for training the next generation for advanced practice nurses. According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing report, 2016 saw American nursing schools turned away 64,067 qualified applicants from bachelor’s and graduate nursing programs due to lack of faculty and other factors.

Skills and Responsibilities

Key Skills for DNP-Prepared Nurses

There are several essential competencies DNP-prepared nurses should possess beyond having a high level of scientific and medical knowledge. These include strong leadership, critical, strategic planning, and organizational management skills. They also need to have strong knowledge of the administrative and business side of health care, including an understanding of politics and health care policy and well-develop business and financial acumen.

Roles and Responsibilities of DNPs

An effective DNP will be charged with handling several tasks as part of their typical daily duties. They’ll chiefly be focused on patient-centered care, and this objective contains several branches. For instance, they’ll commonly work in collaboration with disciplinary teams. They’ll also be responsible for understanding and utilizing tech-driven innovations within a health care setting, such as information systems and health informatics. They’ll also take on several leadership-related duties related to health care administration, policy and education, roles that could include tasks like mentoring nurses or advancing the nursing profession as a nurse educator. Finally, they may be positioned to use their role for evaluating practice and making quality improvements, as well as advocating for changes and improvements in health care policies.

Comparing Nursing Positions

One of the top DNP-prepared nursing positions that nurses can pursue is the role of Chief Nursing Officer, or CNO. This position requires either a Master’s or doctoral degree, and its predicted to have a 20% job growth between 2016 and 2026. The median annual salary for the role is around $125,400.

Nurse scientist is another position that can be obtained by a DNP-prepped nurse. Like a CNO, this role requires either a Master’s or doctoral degree. The position features a median annual salary of roughly $82,100, and has a 13% predicted job growth between 2016 and 2026.

A third DNP-prepared nursing position potentially available is the position of nursing instructor and teacher. The position requires a doctoral degree and has a projected job growth of 24% from 2016 and 2026. The median annual salary associated with the role is around $71,300.

Other nursing positions include registered nurse, nurse practitioner, and nurse midwife. A registered nurse and nurse midwife both require either a bachelor’s or associate degree, while a nurse practitioner requires a Master’s degree. A nurse practitioner has the largest projected job growth of the trio, with a 36% predicted growth between 2016 and 2026. In comparison, the nurse midwife position has a 21% predicted growth during that interim, and the registered nurse position had a 15% percent growth during the same time span. Nurse practitioners also had the highest median annual salary of the threesome at roughly $103,900, followed by nurse midwife ($100,600), and registered nurse ($70,000).


There are many opportunities for advanced practice nurses in health care. Those interested in furthering their careers with a Doctor of Nursing Practice can become leaders in an evolving health care industry and make a significant impact in the delivery of high-quality patient care.