DNP Degree: Why You Should Further Your Nursing Education

The field of nursing is incredibly diverse, and individuals who choose to take this career path are rewarded with a plethora of work opportunities and a positive career outlook. Registered nurses with a thirst for knowledge and a penchant for acquiring new skills can benefit from continuing their nursing education to doctorate level. The qualifications and credentials you add to your nursing repertoire can help you progress your career and achieve your professional goals. With a DNP degree and relevant experience, the nursing world is your oyster. Here is a comprehensive guide to the doctor of nursing practice degree and how it can benefit your career in nursing.

What is a DNP Degree?

A doctor of nursing practice degree is an advanced qualification for nurses who want to further their nursing education. It is the natural next educational step after a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree and a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. Nurses with a DNP often place focus on clinical practice, and many go on to pursue leadership and management positions in a clinical setting. Alternatively, they may decide to choose a specialty and use their degree to broaden their horizons and take a step in another direction within nursing.

Why Should I Continue My Nursing Education?

As a nurse in an ever-evolving healthcare and medical industry, your professional life should always involve professional development and lifelong learning in some form. Nurses who are highly educated are linked to good patient outcomes. Many employers require their entry-level nursing staff to be educated to a BSN degree level at the very least. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN), around 64.2 percent of RNs have a BSN, an MSN degree, a DNP degree, or a PhD. Furthermore, for advanced practice nurses, reputable organizations, such as the AACN, have ratified the requirement of a DNP over an MSN. Although there are many other reasons to continue your nursing education, the most fundamental reason is so that you can stay competitive.

PhD in Nursing

A DNP degree and a PhD in nursing are the two doctoral degrees that are available in the field of nursing. A DNP degree provides training in clinical practice, whereas a PhD in nursing often focuses on academic and scholarly research. A PhD in nursing can prepare nursing professionals for careers in academia and research, and many nursing professionals with this degree may end up working in educational institutions and research laboratories.

Which Degree is Right For Me?

Nursing professionals who wish to remain in a clinical setting and work in conventional patient care roles will obtain a DNP degree. On the other hand, nurses who wish to get into teaching and research may be happier obtaining a PhD in Nursing. Another major difference between the two doctoral degrees is the time it takes to complete each one. A PhD in nursing program can take around six years, whereas a DNP degree can take two to four years to complete.

Get Your DNP Online

Working nurses who want to earn their DNP degree but do not want to attend lectures on-campus can gain their degree online. Armed with an MSN degree, a registered nurse license and two letters of recommendation, RNs are able to forgo on-campus learning and pick up their degree online instead. Wilkes University provides online post-masters DNP programs that are designed for working nurses with busy schedules. Their online nursing programs are CCNE accredited, and all of their courses are taught online, making them convenient for working professionals. Besides completing clinical hours in person, all aspects of the degree program can be completed online. This means that you can keep your full-time job, juggle commitments at home and maintain a social life at the same time. By obtaining your DNP degree online, you can manage a healthy work-life balance while acquiring the highest level of education in your field. With this degree, you can take on more responsibilities, add to your existing knowledge and learn new skills.

Growing Demand For Nursing Professionals

Nursing professionals are integral to the healthcare industry. Studies show that the correct number of nurses in a medical and healthcare setting can greatly impact patient care. A lack of nurses can negatively affect mortality rates, decrease patient safety, and severely affect patient outcomes. Supply and demand projections for the nursing workforce in the United States suggest that there is a critical nursing shortage, this shortage is projected to continue with over 1 million new RNs needed by 2030 to meet demands.

Fill a Gap in the Job Market

In the United States, there is a projected deficit of doctors from 2017 to 2030, and according to Statista, there will be a shortage of approximately 121,300 by 2030. Furthermore, research shows that previously uninsured people, and the ever-aging population, are now seeking more primary and preventative healthcare services than before. With this increasing demand for qualified healthcare professionals, now is the time to get your degree and step up. Advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners (NPs), are in high demand as they are able to practice in specialist fields. They share similar responsibilities to doctors, and they are able to practice autonomously in some states in the US. Certified NPs can provide a variety of primary and preventative care services and can help fill a gap in the market. Advanced practice nurses have the power to make important healthcare decisions, and their job description involves evaluating, diagnosing, and treating patients.

Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, APRNs fall into four job categories; certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). Many nursing professionals who want to progress their career opt to become advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) for many reasons, such as the projected deficit for physicians. Not to mention, APRNs possess the advanced education and experience to negotiate benefits with their employer. This can include a higher salary, vacation time, and scheduling. To become an advanced practice registered nurse, you must have relevant field experience and obtain an advanced degree, such as an MSN or a DNP. Following this, registered nurses then need to get certified and obtain state licensure.

Independent Practice

In certain states in the US, nurse practitioners with a DNP degree have the ability to practice independently and are able to provide patient care within their own private clinic. As mentioned earlier, the growing shortage of physicians means that there is a growing demand for nurses with a DNP who can provide primary and preventative care. The chance to own your independent clinic is reason enough for a lot of registered nurses to gain their DNP degrees.

Diverse Nursing Opportunities

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that around 61 percent of registered nurses in the United States work in hospitals, 18 percent work in ambulatory healthcare services, 6 percent in nursing and residential care facilities, 5 percent in government settings, and 3 percent in educational services. These statistics indicate that there are a plethora of nursing professions for people who want to work in the field of nursing but do not want to fulfill their role in a typical patient care setting. Furthermore, with an advanced degree, registered nurses can take their career further afield.

Unconventional Nursing Professions

With a DNP degree, nursing professionals can gain a deeper understanding in general nursing or a specialty, and they are able to apply for specific job roles that require a higher level of knowledge. For example, with a DNP or a PhD in nursing, nursing professionals are able to pursue a career as a nurse educator. The role of a nurse educator falls between education and clinical nursing experience. They play a key role in the field of nursing. With expert knowledge, nurse educators are responsible for teaching the future generation of nurses. Besides creating lesson plans and teaching students, nurse educators often act as mentors to their students.

A DNP Prepares YourFor Leadership and Management Positions

An advanced degree gives working nurses the knowledge and skills to grow into leadership and management roles within their field. In addition to in-depth knowledge about nursing and clinical practice, the curriculum of a DNP degree should also focus on leading a team with confidence. Your degree should help develop your management skills and give you the ability to make important decisions in nursing. The skills you pick up during a DNP degree program should prepare you for a position in management and administration. As an example, professionals with a DNP can advance their careers and become the chief nursing officer (CNO) in a hospital or a healthcare facility. This position is a non-clinical administrative job role. CNOs lead and train nursing teams, and they are in charge of the development of nursing staff. Their responsibilities also include budgeting, liaising with other heads of departments, and purchasing equipment.

Enhanced Patient Outcome

A well-rounded degree program can equip registered nurses with the knowledge and tools they need to enhance overall patient outcomes. With a variety of courses that revolve around healthcare policy, providing quality outcomes, and best practices, working nurses can build on their existing nursing knowledge to improve the patient care experience. With advanced knowledge, they are also better equipped to deliver high-quality patient care. Working in a direct patient care setting, the ability to achieve enhanced patient outcomes are highly desirable.

Job Security

Qualified nursing professionals who choose to continue their education have the skills and knowledge to compete with others in the job market. Staying competitive is essential in the medical and healthcare industry, and leveling up to a doctoral level is a great way to stand out from the crowd.

Stay Up to Date

Furthering your nursing education will ensure that you are up to date on the latest developments in the industry. With constant advances in technology, changing techniques in the field, and regular breakthroughs in healthcare, it is essential for working nurses to stay in the loop. A DNP degree can help keep you informed about the latest technological advances, up-and-coming research, and general clinical practice. The tools nurses gain from an advanced degree are integral for professionals who want to advance their careers and those who want to ensure they achieve the best patient outcomes.

Pick up New Skills and Make Better Decisions

Picking up new skills is important for nursing professionals who want to advance their careers. A DNP degree can provide you with an array of tools and skills to use in your current role and a broader knowledge of your field to help back any healthcare decisions you need to make. Overall, a DNP program will give you the education and experience to confidently tackle issues at work. Continued education can reinforce your existing knowledge and give you a new set of skills to come up with practical solutions for workplace problems.

Expert Learning Environment

There are certain things you cannot pick up from a textbook, which is why enrolling in a DNP degree program is a great choice for nursing professionals who want to excel in their field. Advanced degree programs are taught by experienced nurse educators who have vast experience in the field of nursing. Nurse educators can impart invaluable knowledge to their students and help shape them into well-trained graduates by the end of the course. In addition to this, they are often a student’s initial point of call on a degree program, which makes them an excellent choice for nurses seeking mentorship. Nurse educators can provide career guidance, professional advice, and an alternative perspective to any work-based issues you may experience. A mentor and mentee relationship can last a professional lifetime, and a mentor that a highly educated nursing professional, such as a nurse educator, is an excellent choice. These mentors can provide guidance, emotional support when things get tough, as well as praise to help keep you motivated and satisfied.