Seven Reasons for Nurses to Earn a DNP

Seven Reasons for Nurses to Earn a DNP

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a doctorate-level degree program that allows nurses to take on top leadership roles in the field of nursing. A relatively new program, it incorporates clinical development opportunities along with traditional research and academic studies. Today, nurses who aspire to advance in their careers are encouraged to either obtain a DNP after their MSN studies or go into a DNP program immediately after they receive their BSN.

Earning a DNP requires both time and effort; completing the program takes, on average, between three to five years of intensive study. Although it requires a somewhat lengthy time commitment, there are many benefits of earning a DNP. A nurse with a DNP not only receives higher pay and opportunities for career growth but he or she also typically experience greater job satisfaction and gains a sense of personal achievement. Here are the top reasons why nurses opt to earn a DNP degree.

1. Earn the Highest Level Degree in Nursing

A DNP is a terminal degree, which means it’s the highest level of education that you can achieve in the nursing field. Acquiring this degree is not only an ego-boosting achievement, but it also can help you become one of the top specialists in your field, opening opportunities for leadership. DNPs aren’t easy to earn, and it’s a time-consuming course of study.

However, experts in nursing predict a large shortage in the number of nurses with the type of skills and expertise that you will obtain in pursuit of this degree. Upon graduation, you will be in high demand, helping you land a job in the location you desire and at the salary you require. All these factors combine to make the long, difficult course of study worthwhile.

2. Advance Your Nursing Career

If you’re the type of person who wants a nursing career filled with opportunities for lifelong learning and growth, earning a DNP will help you fulfill that goal. Typically, DNPs take on various types of leadership roles. They become nursing directors at hospitals; obtain their Nurse Practitioner (NP) license; and in many states, even open their own practice; influence policy-making in public health positions; become nursing educators or managers, among other options. For nurses looking to make a difference and assume more responsibility, a DNP is a great option.

3. Get a Salary Boost

Of course, all this responsibility and leadership comes with higher pay. On average, an RN who holds a BSN makes approximately $60K per year; NPs with an MSN earn around $80K annually; while nurses who hold a DNP often earn a salary over $100,000. Granted, salary should not be your primary motivation for pursuing the degree, and acquiring it means both a significant time commitment and financial investment. Additionally, leadership positions in nursing are both stressful and demanding, requiring a lot of personal input and sacrifice. However, if you’re passionate about your job, having a good salary to go along with it is a bonus!

4. Apply the Latest Research to Practice

Since DNP candidates focus their studies on clinical learning alongside their research and academic studies, they have the perfect opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-life settings. Many go on to practice as Nurse Practitioners (NPs), working in hospitals or clinics, sometimes opening their own practices. As a DNP graduate, you will be up to date with the latest research trends, providing you with the ability to apply current research results to the practical world of nursing, which is one of the reasons that DNP programs were created. Many professionals in the industry hope that highly educated nurses will help bridge the information gap between what happens bedside and the latest developments in research in the academic world of medicine.

5. Learn the Latest Information Technology

Because of technology, our world stays in a continual state of transformation. By necessity, the medical field must remain on the forefront in the development and application of new technologies. Possessing comprehensive knowledge of the latest developments in medical research will benefit your career and your ability to do your job. Most DNP programs include a technology learning component in their curriculum, especially in areas of nursing specialization.

6. Teach Future Nurses

An area of significant shortage in the nursing field, reports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), is the lack of nurses who have the credentials necessary to teach at the university level. If you’re interested in becoming a nurse educator and sharing your knowledge with the future generation of nurses, then obtaining a DNP will give you the opportunity to do so. However, even if you don’t choose to become a nursing teacher or professor, assuming a leadership nursing role will give you the skills to become a mentor for the future generation of nurses.

7. Influence Healthcare Policy

Healthcare policy is another career path that you may not associate with nursing; however, the development of policy is extremely important to the healthcare industry as a whole. To create effective, functional policy, implement reforms that are beneficial to the field and ensure the implementation and maintenance of proper healthcare standards, policymakers need input from those with deep industry experience. Some nurses choose to apply the knowledge gained from their DNP credentials along with their experience as clinical nurses by influencing healthcare policy and taking on administrative roles in public health.

For the right person, earning a DNP can lead to an extremely rewarding career, both financially and professionally. Nurses who obtain a DNP have the opportunity to lead in the field, whether they opt to continue their career in nursing by working at a hospital, opening their own practice, or branching out to other fields such as education or policy. However, if you’re considering the pursuit of a DNP degree, you should first undertake careful research to understand if you want to commit to the rigorous study required of the program and ensure that you choose the best DNP program for your career aspirations.

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