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Why Earn a DNP Degree?

The job of a registered nurse has expanded beyond routine bedside tasks. Today’s nurses must be technologically savvy and have the knowledge and skills that enable them to provide safe, quality patient care. Many RNs hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Some nurses go back to school to complete a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program because they want to hone their nursing competencies or pursue an advanced practice role.

What Is the DNP Degree?

The DNP is a terminal degree in nursing. It is the highest level of clinical preparation nurses can complete.

What Is a DNP Degree Program?

A DNP degree program builds on an RN’s experience and prior education. While the curriculum will vary depending on the school, most programs focus on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, data driven decision-making and systems leadership.

In addition, nurses in a DNP program learn how to develop safe and economical solutions that can lead to better outcomes for individuals and communities.

Who Is the DNP Degree Geared Toward?

A DNP degree is for nurse practitioners, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or RNs seeking systems or organizational roles like those in nurse education or executive leadership. A DNP is an alternative to the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.), which centers on research.

How Does a DNP Degree Help Nurses With Their Practice?

Nurses with a DNP are prepared to take on more responsibility, which may include leadership and advocacy roles. They understand the importance of collaboration and working as a liaison between staff, healthcare team members and administration to solve problems.

DNP-prepared nurses use their scientific knowledge to stay current on best practices in nursing for the delivery of care. Furthermore, nurses with a DNP can enhance the nursing profession by influencing health policy. They are qualified to sit on boards for healthcare reform.

What Are the Benefits of a DNP Degree?

Nurses with a DNP degree may have access to more job opportunities in a variety of healthcare settings and earn a high income. According to PayScale, the average annual salary of a DNP-prepared nurse is $102,000, as of December 2019.

In the future, the DNP may become the required level of preparation RNs need to enter advanced practice nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) supports this change. Thus, a DNP can be a worthwhile investment for nurses who want to move ahead in their nursing career. An additional consideration is that DNP-prepared nurses are eligible to apply for nurse educator positions. Choosing to become an educator can help combat the faculty shortages in nursing schools that are causing them to turn away students. By completing a DNP degree program, nurses are prepared to promote scholarship, elevate clinical practice and improve patient care.

Learn more about NKU’s online Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing: DNP Fact Sheet Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) – What Is a DNP and Is It Worth It? Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree (DNP)

Nurse Journal: Why Get a Doctorate of Nursing DNP Degree?

Working Nurse: DNP & Me: Five Reasons to Pursue a Nursing Doctorate

PayScale: Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree What Is a DNP?

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