A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is one of two doctoral degrees available in the nursing profession. The second is the PhD in nursing, which provides training almost exclusively focused on scholarly research. In contrast, the DNP is a practical professional degree that can lead to a wide range of career paths, from clinic manager to health policy advocate. That isn’t to say DNPs don’t work in clinical research, because plenty make the choice to do so. However, DNPs often choose to practice medicine in the field and work as advanced nurses.
DNP vs. MSN
Students considering pursuit of a DNP vs. MSN may be interested in how their education will affect their earning potential and professional autonomy. MSN graduates can work as a nurse practitioner but likely will not receive the same salary as a nurse practitioner with a DNP. Furthermore, organizations such as the American Association of Colleges of Nursing have recommended that nurses earn a DNP to become experts in the field and potentially open their own practices.
Benefits of a DNP
All advanced nursing degrees require comprehensive education and several years of study. Maryville University offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program for motivated BSNs pursuing advanced education. If you’re considering continuing your nursing education, here are nine reasons why you should become a DNP:
1. Take on a Leadership Role
A well-rounded DNP curriculum is about much more than just the technical side of nursing. While earning your DNP, you can work on developing leadership skills essential for entering fast-paced healthcare environments, such as the ability to make difficult decisions under stressful circumstances. DNP coursework can also help nurses learn just what goes into running a clinic, from managing a dynamic team to properly filing important paperwork. The skills learned here can also help prepare you for an executive-level position in hospital administration.
2. Specialize in What You Love
Do you have a passion for a specific field in nursing? DNP students have the opportunity to focus their studies and specialize in what’s most important to them. You may be able to choose from a number of different concentrations, which might include the following specialties:
- Family Care
- Pediatric Primary Care
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care
- Psychiatric Mental Health
3. Fit Education Around Your Busy Schedule
Unlike many traditional BSN to DNP degree programs, an online model is tailored for current, practicing nurses with busy lives. While an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice is still a significant time commitment, it offers unique flexibility. You might take on a heavy course load, but in many ways, you’ll be able to work through it on your own terms.
4. Learn from Experts in the Nursing Profession
Some types of professional knowledge never make it into a textbook. Learning from a faculty made up of experienced nurses, DNP students can gain important insights into modern nursing beyond what they have seen up until this point. Unique opportunities for career guidance and mentorship are also benefits of this environment. And if you’re interested in teaching later on, a DNP is a helpful credential for those planning on instructing the next generation of nurses.
5. Stay Current in a Rapidly Evolving Field
Another reason you should become a DNP is because many aspects of healthcare are constantly changing. From greater understanding of disease processes to novel medicines and advanced technologies, it’s important for clinicians to stay informed. Designed to prepare future leaders of nursing, DNP programs provide up-to-date information and train their students in continuing medical education strategies. These tools can help nurses stay on top of future trends and changes for years to come.
6. Gain Increased Job Security
DNPs are likely to be in demand with the anticipated nursing and physician shortage on the horizon. Doctorate-level nurse practitioners may have the capacity to cover and bridge the gaps between the two roles. Additionally, over the last decade, there has been a shift in the credentials necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master’s level to the doctoral. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing and other organizations have endorsed the requirement of a DNP for advanced practice nurses. Continuing your education from the bachelor’s level directly to a DNP can help ensure you stay competitive for the nursing job you want.
7. Earn Your DNP on an Accelerated Path
An online BSN to DNP program can give students a quality education with a streamlined experience. While the norm for many students is to first earn a master’s before pursuing a doctorate, a BSN to DNP lets dedicated individuals bypass this step. Though the American Nurses Association suggests a minimum of three to four years of full-time study to move from BSN to DNP, unique accelerated online opportunities can help nurses reach their goals faster.
8. Become Your Own Boss
One of the many ways in which healthcare is changing is through the large degree of independence DNPs can enjoy today. Many states now allow DNPs to open their own independent clinics, with trends in legislation suggesting that it may one day become a nationwide norm. In fact, another aspect of the looming clinician shortage is the prediction that these nurse-run clinics will become an integral part of how patients receive primary care in the near future. For these reasons, a DNP degree can be a great choice for nurses who prefer to be as independent as possible in their practices.
9. Learn from Anywhere
If you’re looking to advance your education — and therefore your career — but aren’t sure how much time you can commit to commuting to campus, an online DNP program may be right for you. Often, these programs do not have required residencies, and all aspects of learning can be done completely online. Though students are still expected to complete in-person clinical practice, you can fulfill this requirement locally in your own community.
Learn More About Pursuing a DNP
The DNP is a versatile degree that can prepare nurses for many different roles. Enrolling in a DNP program now can be a sound investment for the future, no matter where you want to be in a few years. If you dream of a career in advanced nursing, learn more about why you should become a DNP by exploring Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice. Discover how the program can help you achieve your professional nursing goals.