What Career Opportunities May You Have as a DNP Graduate?

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Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduates experience many unique career opportunities in the health care field. As the health care system grows and becomes more complex, DNP graduates may serve as industry leaders who contribute to meaningful reform, tackle new technologies and transform their workplaces. The career paths DNP graduates pursue largely depend on their skills and interest areas. From health care administration to lobbying efforts, here are five career opportunities for DNP graduates:

Health care executive

Hospitals, private practices and long-term care facilities operate like machines, which is why these organizations need strong leaders who can keep their systems running smoothly and efficiently. Health care executives, also referred to as medical and health services managers, are the knowledgeable professionals who strategize, coordinate and direct health care services. This position is ideal for DNP graduates who want to be directly involved in the daily operations of their medical facilities.The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the health care management field is projected to grow 17 percent from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. The exact salary depends on the industry, area of the country and position, yet the average annual wage for all health care executives in May 2015 was $94,500. Thirty-seven percent of these executives worked at hospitals, while 10 percent worked in long-term care or private offices.The primary duties of health care executives are to improve quality in the delivery of health care services, develop departmental goals and ensure facility compliance with laws and regulations. They also may be responsible for communicating with team members, creating work schedules, preparing or monitoring budgets and representing their facilities at investor meetings. In short, health care executives keep facilities on track yet are flexible enough to adapt to changes in technology, health care standards, best practices and personnel.

Nursing Faculty

Members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) have called the future nursing shortage a looming crisis and are working diligently with policy makers, universities, nursing organizations and the media to raise awareness about this problem. While this emerging crisis may be stressful for certain health care advocates, it is promising for DNP graduates who want to enter into higher education. The increased need for nurses will call for an increased need for nursing faculty to prepare them.Many people may think higher education is only for individuals holding Ph.D. degrees, yet this belief is not always the case. AACN information showed that DNP graduates may choose clinical and/or theory faculty positions in nursing programs. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for higher education faculty for May 2015 was $72,470. The projected job growth from 2014 to 2024 is 13 percent.
As a nursing faculty, DNP graduates are responsible for educational experience of their students. Depending on the institution’s job requirements, faculty may advise students, conduct research, publish work in academic journals and mentor future nurses. This position is ideal for doctoral students who want to educate the next generation of nursing professionals.As a nursing faculty, DNP graduates are responsible for educational experience of their students. Depending on the institution’s job requirements, faculty may advise students, conduct research, publish work in academic journals and mentor future nurses. This position is ideal for doctoral students who want to educate the next generation of nursing professionals.

Advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)

The field of advanced practice registered nursing encompasses positions such as nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and nurse-midwives. In these roles, APRNs coordinate patient care and may offer additional specialist health care services. The job responsibilities and experience requirements vary depending on the state or facility. APRNs may work in hospitals, clinics, private practices and schools.The BLS reported the field is expected to grow 31 percent from 2014 to 2024 due to a nationwide emphasis on preventive care, demand for health care services from an aging population and changes in health care regulations and laws. Though the average yearly salary from May 2015 was $104,740, this figure varies based on the specialty area, location, position and employer. A master’s degree is the common educational choice for entry-level APRN positions, yet many professionals choose to earn DNP degrees to further their career and leadership advancement opportunities.APRNs are mid-level primary care providers. While the scope of their responsibilities depends on the specialty area, APRNs diagnose and prescribe treatment, make referrals, counsel patients, collaborate with physicians and other healthcare providers, and conduct research.

Heath care lobbyist

DNP graduates who enjoy politics and want to impact health care policy in America and overseas should consider becoming a health care lobbyist. These professionals may work for insurance companies, government agencies or professional nursing organizations that want to change the face of health care legislation and regulations. This field is ideal for students who have a background or an interest in law or experience working in corporate health care environments.On a broad scale, lobbyists represent the interest of their professional organization to legislators. From local to federal levels, lobbyists build rapport with these government officials by showing them the impacts certain bills or laws could have on certain sectors of the health care industry. To be effective at their job, lobbyists must stay up to date on the latest industry trends and constantly research how current events may impact the message or agenda they support.The BLS does not have precise figures regarding the average annual salary or job outlook for health care lobbyists, but political scientists earn around $99,730 a year, which is in the same range as the average lobbyist. Specific job responsibilities vary based on the professional organization, location, position and level of industry experience.
Clinical researcher using microscope

Clinical researcher

The field of clinical nursing research may be the right choice for certain professionals. DNPs involved in clinical research use their practice to generate evidence that supports current practice or guides the changing of practice to improve patient outcomes. They may be involved in the critical appraisal of existing evidence, the development of practice guidelines and the evaluation of practice outcomes, as well as in the design, implementation and evaluation of quality improvement methodologies.

Before choosing to enter into a DNP program, make sure it fits with your career goals and the format and offerings meet your unique educational needs. Bradley University’s online DNP program offers flexible and intensive coursework that supports students who are hoping to advance their career and leadership opportunities. Contact one of the program’s representatives today to hear more about our faculty and curriculum offerings.


Recommended Reading

A Look at The Job Market for DNP Graduates

Why Pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree?

Bradley University Online DNP Program