5 DNP Careers in the Health Care Industry

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Doctor nurse practitioner holding syringe

A large number of today’s nurse leaders received their degrees in the 1970s, meaning they are now approaching retirement age. Additionally, the patient population is growing steadily, meaning health care systems need increased access to nursing talent. The nursing industry is experiencing a hiring boom because of this nursing shortage, meaning upward mobility in this field is very attainable. By earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice, nurses with clinical experience can accelerate their advancement and qualify for the following DNP careers.

Fields Where Doctor of Nursing Practice Graduates Are Needed

The Doctor of Nursing Practice degree introduces significant versatility to nurses’ careers. Upon graduating from their chosen DNP programs, nurses can expect to work in the following health care fields:

  • Nursing education
  • Health care research
  • Executive nursing
  • Health care advocacy

Nurse Researcher

Nurse researchers work in nursing schools, research organizations, hospitals, and laboratories. A nurse researcher conducts research to improve current health care standards, with a focus on nursing. This could involve surveying patients to compile feedback about their satisfaction with nursing services or facilitating studies where different interventions are tested on patients to determine their efficacy.

Qualifying for entry-level nurse research positions may be possible with only a bachelor’s degree in nursing, but with a higher level of education, researchers can take on a wider range of responsibilities. After earning a DNP, nurse researchers should be prepared for senior positions that involve setting research goals for whole departments and supervising teams of other researchers.

General Skills Recommended to Succeed:

  • Analytical thinking
  • Research
  • Data management
  • Goal setting

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators train nurses in academic and professional settings. Their expertise lies in their ability to effectively relay information to adults in various academic contexts, ensuring that their students have the tools they need to retain the information. Apart from teaching, nurse educators also advocate for reform of nurse education systems and introduce new teaching methods to their peers. In this sense, nurse educators play a key role in ensuring the continual growth of the nursing profession.

Basic nurse education jobs may be available to nurses with a bachelor’s degree and about two years of experience, but the more rewarding positions will demand at least a Master of Science in Nursing. Even then, jobs that involve teaching as a university professor or leading a nursing program for a large institution will most likely require a terminal degree, such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice.

General Skills Recommended to Succeed:

  • Empathy
  • Mentorship
  • Interpersonal communication

Nurse Administrator

Nursing departments must be coordinated by educated professionals who understand the intricacies of those work environments. Over the course of their careers, nurses become familiar with the most effective methods for solving workplace problems. With enough experience and knowledge of leadership and management, they can transition to administrative roles overseeing large groups of nursing professionals. To qualify for a job in nurse administration, nurses should gain several years of experience and earn a DNP.

General Skills Recommended to Succeed:

  • Finance management
  • Employee supervision
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Critical thinking

Clinical Nurse Consultant

Clinical nurse consultants advise health care institutions to help them provide the highest quality of care. Nurse consultants are among the top tier of clinical nursing professionals because of their high level of training and education. Typically, they will have a master’s or terminal degree. Depending on their professional background, they can specialize in different areas of health care, such as intensive care, long-term care, or primary care. They have a range of cross-discipline responsibilities, primarily overseeing treatment plans and helping nursing departments improve their operational strategies.

General Skills Recommended to Succeed:

  • Creativity
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Teamwork
  • Decision-making

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners are highly educated and clinically oriented. After gaining experience as a registered nurse, they can earn a Master of Science in Nursing, thereby qualifying them to earn a nurse practitioner certification. This will allow them to dedicate their practice to a specific patient population, such as families, children, or the elderly. A Doctor of Nursing Practice complements this position well, as the coursework will provide students with advanced research skills that can be use to incorporate evidence-based practice into their patient care strategies.

General Skills Recommended to Succeed:

  • Attention to detail
  • Observation
  • Proficiency in health care technology
  • Problem-solving

Nursing is a diverse field, with many opportunities for career specialization. By completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice program, experienced nurses can build a foundation of advanced competencies and hone their clinical expertise, improving their potential to qualify for lucrative DNP careers.

Learn More

The path to becoming an advanced practice nurse can be a long one, but it can be equally gratifying. Nurses who persevere through the educational process are rewarded with the opportunity to uniquely impact the growth and stability of the U.S. health care system. A Master’s of Science in Nursing is a great way to get started as an advanced practice nurse, but by advancing to a MSN to DNP online program, nurses can distinguish themselves as authorities in their field, allowing them to contribute significantly to health care organizations.

Recommended Reading

Should Nurse Practitioners Have Full Practice Authority?

How an Increasingly Complex Healthcare System is Reshaping What it Means to Be a Nurse Leader

Should Nurse Practitioners Have Full Practice Authority?


National Institutes of Health, A Shortage of Nurse Researchers Looms

National Nurses in Business Association

National Institutes of Health, Clinical Research Nurse Roles