Everything You Need to Know About Being a Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a valuable role in the clinical practice. According to AACN, DNP has a dual role in advanced nursing practice preparation and clinical nursing education. For these roles, DNP serves as the graduate degree and the terminal degree, respectively.

The basis of this degree is the Nursing Doctorate (ND), but there is a key difference. While ND focuses on academic research, DNP prepares students to prepare for real-world cases to improve the degree of care they provide patients.

Designations in the Nursing Profession

Aside from DNP, the nursing profession uses various designations including Nursing Practitioner (NP), Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN), and Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN).

APRN holders are nurses who went through advanced training to take on a specialized nursing role. APRN holders passed the national exam, and they could also hold the following certifications: Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and NP. Most nurses who hold an APRN designation has an MSN degree.

APRN holders may apply for a DNP, and DNP holders can sit for the APRN examination to specialize in a certain field.

Developing Highly-Skilled Nurses

In an effort to improve the quality of healthcare, nurses are encouraged to seek doctorate degrees to hone their skills and improve patient services. 

As the terminal degree for the profession, a DNP allows nurses to transition to the educational setting and train nurses seeking a Bachelor’s degree. Faculty members with a doctorate degree earn better, and the compensation is closer to the pay they receive as active nurses.

Given the forecasted increase in nursing demand, more DNP faculty means greater manpower for educational institutions to produce more nursing graduates to ease the labor shortage in the nursing profession.

DNP Degree Career Pathways

DNP degree holders can either focus on systems and organizational leadership or advanced practice nursing.

DNP seekers who are on the organizational pathway will concentrate on thinking and analysis on the systems level. The focus of their study is always the organization although they can concentrate on program implementation and evaluation, information technology, and healthcare policies.

Those who take the APN pathway will take courses which will prepare them for sitting the APN certification exam. They will study advanced pathophysiology, physiology, and pharmacology.

Innovation is at the core of DNP education, and it differs from Ph.D. programs since its aim is to focus on evidence-based practice, not new knowledge. DNP degree seekers should submit a final project which seeks to help improve the student’s mastery of topics in advanced nursing. This requirement may include a literature review, evaluation for a pilot study or program, a practice portfolio of outcomes.

Based on the AACN guidelines, these aspects are crucial to a DNP education:

  • Integrate science-based theories in practice to provide feedback on the effectiveness of medical intervention
  • Provides DNP graduates with competencies to take over leadership roles
  • Improve healthcare quality by integrating new methods proven to have better outcomes
  • Ability to use medical technology to improve the overall care and experience of their patients
  • Respond to the changes brought about by healthcare policies
  • Skills to collaborate with other professionals in the field
  • Ability to seek nursing specialization

The DNP degree provides nurses with an option to seek a better retirement position and improve their core knowledge in the industry. Through BSN to DNP online programs, earning the designation is easier than ever. Education through virtual classrooms is more flexible and suitable for professionals in the nursing industry.