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

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Today’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) professionals are better adapted than ever to meet the new challenges facing the health care system. Pursuing a DNP degree online with Bradley University places practicing nurses at one of the profession’s newest horizons, giving them the skills they need to transform the way care services are delivered in today’s health care system.

The constantly evolving demands of America’s diverse and varied health care environment are increasing, requiring nurses who serve in specialized positions to possess new levels of insight, particularly in scientific knowledge and medical practice expertise. These new standards result from both an increased complexity of patient care, and widely documented links between higher levels of nursing education and improved patient outcomes.

The benefits of a DNP are plentiful given this newly emerging environment in nursing care, whether you choose to consider a DNP as a terminal degree to build on your existing master’s background or use it in other career-growth strategies, such as advanced practice licensure or career paths outside of direct patient care.

Practice-based learning vs. research-based learning

While Ph.D. candidates follow a distinctly research-based focus, a DNP is practice-based and focused on the practical application of scientific discoveries and translating research into practice. DNP coursework also allows nurses to gain hands-on training with veteran health care team members.

Practicing nurses within a practice-based DNP program can obtain the knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to increase the scope of their clinical scholarship in nursing, one that is applicable across sites and over time. From conducting complex diagnostic and treatment modalities to utilizing sophisticated informatics and decision-making technology, DNP coursework emphasizes patient/caregiver interaction throughout the program. The DNP also allows nurses to assimilate in-depth knowledge of biophysical, psychosocial, behavioral and clinical sciences. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing described the DNP degree path as the “preferred pathway for those seeking preparation at the highest level of nursing practice.”

Evolutions in health care increasingly require those in the nursing profession to be well-versed in the application of key technologies to enhance practice and improve patient outcomes. A well-rounded online DNP program such as the one offered by Bradley University covers the necessary skills to use technologies that promote a more efficient, data-driven and evidence-based practice. This hands-on approach leads to improved patient care, system wide efficiency improvements and better quality of work. And Bradley University’s online DNP program allows students to complete their clinical hours with approved preceptors of their own choice.

The core curriculum of most DNP programs isn’t exclusively clinical, however. Nurses will also gain experience in translating research evidence into nursing practice, survey health care policy issues such as financial management and leadership theory and cultivate practice management expertise. Relevant health care policy-related coursework in Bradley University’s online DNP track includes seminars on Health Care Policy, Economic Markets, Competition and Monopoly in Health Care, Health Promotion in Populations and Planning, Decision-Making and Performance Measurement.

Career growth and potential roles

Additional education, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice, can become an asset to further your career and salary. Many Bradley MSN to DNP graduates have gone on to excel in advanced positions in hospitals and health care organizations.

For example, a DNP can help accelerate your career for eligibility as a Head Nurse. While Head Nurses interact directly with patients, they are also management-level professionals responsible for planning the budget; recruiting staff; collaborating with nursing staff, upper management, and external agencies to coordinate care; and ensuring the nursing care meets regulatory standards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average median annual salary for a Head Nurse was $96,540 in 2016.

Graduates of a DNP may also want to explore opportunities as Clinical Nursing Specialists (CNSs). Health care professionals in this role pair treatment and diagnosis of patients with ongoing assessment of organizational procedure and personnel. BLS data indicates that CNSs can fall into a category of health practitioners who earned a mean annual wage of $102,160 in 2016.

Students may also be interested in a career as a Nurse Researcher. While many in this profession earn their Ph.D.s, a DNP may also be part of one’s educational background. Nurse Researchers work in clinical and laboratory settings to compile and investigate health-related data to understand medical issues that have a societal impact or detriment. They then use that data to design and implement specific programs and initiatives aimed at increasing both public awareness and public programs to benefit the health of communities. The BLS reports that Nurse Researchers in management, scientific and technical consulting services earned an average of $132,010 in 2016.

In part due to the Bradley University online DNP program’s comprehensive curriculum alongside newly emerging trends in health care, the range of possible directions of career growth for MSNs who enroll is constantly evolving. By combining new strategies in nursing with coursework based in the overall planning, personnel oversight and policy-making responsibilities of a top executive, DNP graduates are expected to have a bright professional future. Speak with an enrollment advisor at Bradley University today to learn how an MSN to DNP path may benefit you.


Recommended Readings

How a DNP Degree Differs from a MSN Degree

Top 3 Career Outcomes of an Online Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

Bradley University Online DNP Program