As a registered nurse (RN) with a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), you are able to work in a leadership capacity. But, you may want to have more of an impact on the nursing profession. Perhaps you want to stay involved in clinical practice but you are also passionate about improving patient care. A post-master's Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree is for nurses who are ready to move up to some of the top positions in nursing.
What Is a DNP?
A DNP prepares nurses with the highest level of clinical nursing knowledge. The program integrates practice-based preparation with clinical applications. The goal of the DNP is to elevate the nursing practice and improve patient care.
The DNP degree was created to align nursing preparation with programs for other medical professionals. The DNP ensures that nurses are prepared with the same academic standards found in other practice programs such as:
- Doctors of Dental Surgery (DDS)
- Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)
- Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) or Occupational Therapy (DOT)
- Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
- Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
What Are the Advantages of Completing a DNP Degree Program?
Of course, there are perks to earning a DNP, such as salaries that outpace those of MSN-prepared nurses and increased job opportunities. The DNP is the terminal degree for nurses in clinical practice. Nurses can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD). The PhD in Nursing leads to positions in research and academic settings, including leadership roles.
Why Would MSN-Prepared Nurses Enroll in a DNP Program?
Besides better salaries and additional job opportunities, nurses may consider a DNP because they want to do the following:
- Further their clinical competencies beyond their current advance practice registered nurse (APRN) role.
- Attain certification in a different field of nursing.
- Procure a leadership position in informatics, health policy or public health.
Why Is There a Need for DNP-Prepared Nurses?
DNP-prepared nurses are at the forefront of nursing, and their medical knowledge and decision-making skills can help increase the number of successful patient outcomes. A DNP-prepared nurse understands how to collect, review and analyze data to pinpoint the best course of action in clinical practice. The aim of DNP-prepared nurses is to:
- Provide optimal patient care.
- Cultivate improvements in healthcare and enhance patient experiences.
- Reduce costs.
What Careers Do You Qualify for With a DNP?
Once you have completed a DNP program, you are prepared to demonstrate advanced clinical support and evidence-based care. If you are not already an APRN, you need to obtain a state nurse practitioner license and certification in your chosen area of specialization.
The Consensus Model for APRN Regulation: Licensure, Accreditation, Certification & Education (APRN Consensus Model) identifies titles and specialties for APRNs with a DNP. The table below shows the four recognized APRN roles with salary information from PayScale.com, as of May 2020.
Annual Median Salary
Nursing is complex and challenging, and it continues to become more demanding. The majority of patients are age 65 or older. They require complicated treatments, procedures and management plans because they often have comorbid chronic conditions. To properly care for patients and raise the number of positive patient outcomes, nurses need the necessary competencies to provide quality care.
A DNP-prepared nurse incorporates evidence-based practice into the delivery of patient care, facilitates collaboration and communicates strategies for effective healthcare.
Learn more about NKU's online Post-Master's DNP program.
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