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Why the Industry Outlook for DNPs is Strong

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If you haven’t yet made the decision to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, now is one of the best times to do so. Once you finish your DNP, you’ll be tasked with choosing a career in a field that continues to grow rapidly. Find out how this field is continuing to change the face of health care:

Advanced Practice Nurses Need Higher Education

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation completed a two-year, in-depth study of the role of nurses and the future of the profession. In a groundbreaking report titled “The Future of Nursing,” the IOM recommended that nurses achieve progressively higher levels of training and clinical experience through a streamlined education system.

This recommendation aligned with a similar decision by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), which called for the field to adopt the DNP as the terminal degree for advanced nursing practice by 2015. A DNP enables advanced practice nurses to reach the top of their fields, where they can focus on clinical experience instead of research work. Since the 2015 adoption of the DNP degree, the outlook for advanced nursing practice terminal degree holders has grown quickly.

DNPs Can Fuse Research and Clinical Practice

While some nurses with doctoral degrees step away from health care facilities to focus on research, the DNP program is designed to blend academic research with clinical practice. Since many DNPs already have years of clinical experience, they’re in a prime position to apply cutting-edge research to their practices.

As the AACN’s recommendation for DNP to become the profession’s terminal degree takes hold, nurses who have a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) may need to supplement their education with additional time in the classroom. DNPs seeking roles as clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and other clinical positions are likely to find a job market with a great need for advanced practice nurses with terminal degrees.

DNPs Can Address the Physician Shortage Problem

For years, the U.S. health care system has suffered from a growing shortage of physicians, especially in rural and underserved areas. According to Nurse Journal, the physician shortage has reached 20,000 and only shows signs of increasing. The IOM has recommended that advanced practice nurses work alongside physicians to address this problem, and DNPs are in a unique position to fill some of the key gaps in the health care system.

Because DNPs can establish private practices in nearly half of the states in the U.S., they can work independently from physicians. That means they can diagnose, test, and treat patients without a doctor’s oversight, effectively making up for many concerns related to the physician shortage. DNPs with a specialization in community health or with experience in rural areas could face an even more positive job outlook.

DNPs Can Treat the Aging Population

The U.S. population is aging, but the current health care system isn’t designed to handle these patients’ needs. Because of the need for more frequent office visits, specialized medical needs of obese and diabetic patients, and the need for emergency services, older patients add stress to the health care system. Since a physician shortage already exists, this paves the way for advanced practice nurses to improve the system.

DNPs are bound to find their knowledge and skills increasingly in demand as the system evolves to accommodate the aging population. From serving older patients in underserved areas to providing specialized medical care to improving health care facilities through more streamlined management, DNPs are essential to treating the aging population in the U.S.

DNPs Can Become Tomorrow’s Academic Leaders

Clinical practice isn’t the only option for DNPs who want to make a difference. Many doctorate holders pursue careers in nursing education, teaching at the post-secondary level or leading research programs. Those interested in a career in academia will be pleased to know that opportunities for talented teachers and researchers with DNP degrees continue to grow.

As Nurse Journal explains, this is largely due to the high number of retirees in nursing education. As current professors and researchers retire at high rates, they pave the way for newly-minted DNPs to become tomorrow’s academic leaders. Not only can they train the next group of advanced practice nurses, but DNPs may also have the opportunity to shape the educational system to ensure that nurses are better prepared than ever to face the profession’s myriad challenges.

DNPs Can Navigate and Shape the Health Care System

In the IOM’s groundbreaking report, the institute recommended that advanced practice nurses take a stronger role in improving health care. DNPs have the right mix of relevant education, policy knowledge, and clinical experience to make a positive difference in the U.S. health care system.

Many advanced practice nurses enter the profession with the goal of taking on an executive role, and those who want to reshape the health care system are likely to find numerous opportunities in health care administration and policy. As the AACN explains, the need for establishing accountable care is becoming more important than ever, as patients and health care facilities struggle to balance medical needs and costs. DNPs may be uniquely qualified to head these types of groups, which combine research, patient care, and health care management.

No matter where you are in your nursing education, now is the time to take the necessary steps to pursue your DNP degree. As a DNP, you may have the opportunity to establish your own practice, conduct groundbreaking medical research, or influence health care policy in a field that’s poised to continue to grow. To learn more, visit Maryville University’s online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree program.