While there are some nursing programs that require you to obtain a master’s degree before earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, today there are many educational institutions that offer students the opportunity to obtain a DNP degree directly after receiving their bachelor’s degree. These programs emphasize developing core practical nursing competencies to enhance patient outcomes through curriculum which is primarily focused on clinical leadership, education, and care. It is for the following reasons that choosing to earn an online DNP degree will open new opportunities for individual career advancement, as well as improving the capacity of the health care industry as a whole.
DNP nurses are essential providers of primary care in the modern health care landscape
The rising cost of medical care has resulted in an increased demand for medical professionals who can deliver cost-effective primary care to patients. While DNP nurses are not full-fledged physicians, through DNP coursework, BSN-holding nurses obtain the clinical skills that are critical to providing effective preventive services and other primary care to patients.
Although these advanced nurse practitioners are sometimes required to operate under the supervision of a qualified physician, there are many states that allow DNP nurses to practice independently as primary care providers if they have obtained the proper training and qualifications. In light of DNPs being equipped with a thorough understanding of holistic care in medicine, their role in the primary care workforce is vitally important to the process of converting research evidence into a practical health care context. This allows them to collaborate with health care providers to prevent, treat, and manage acute and chronic health conditions.
DNP nurses remove barriers to provide higher levels of clinical care
An important role of the DNP nurse is participating in efforts to remove the professional and legal barriers that limit the ability of nurse professionals to provide effective primary clinical care. One such barrier can be found interprofessionally within the medical industry, as physicians grow more concerned that the expanding role of DNP nurses may limit their authority and potentially compromise patient outcomes.
To inhibit the expansion of DNP nurses’ scope of practice, some physician groups choose to take legal action by lobbying to restrict the health care services that DNP nurses are allowed to provide in their states. By honing their expertise through a DNP program, BSN nurses can advocate for health care reform using the satisfaction and positive health care outcomes of their patients as evidence to certify their competence and eliminate physician concerns. 
DNP nurses are equipped to develop new techniques and policies to advance the nursing discipline
DNP coursework provides graduates with the ability to view health care from a system-level perspective, allowing them to contribute to the development of policies that effectively address the clinical needs of the specific communities that they target. The holistic medical practices reinforced by DNP curriculum are likely to enhance a nurse’s ability to develop new health care techniques that recognize each individual patient’s need for unique care strategies. These strategies incorporate components of their social, physical, and mental characteristics, such as culture, experiences, and medical history.
DNP nurses lead in clinical practice and nurse education
In using their extensive nursing expertise to organize health care institutions and support progression of the nursing practice discipline, DNP nurses can become valued leaders within medical institutions. They are not only capable of contributing innovative ideas to the leadership strategies being implemented in their respective facilities to improve patient care and population health outcomes, but are also essential to the process of educating and mentoring less experienced nurses across all clinical settings. In comparison to their BSN-holding colleagues, a DNP-holding nurse will have far more opportunities to lead in the medical field, as their education has prepared them to collaborate with physicians and other nurse administrators to educate other nurses, whether through lectures or in practice.
DNP nurses are well compensated and have strong career options
There’s currently an extreme shortage of nurses and nurse educators and only 1 percent of all nurses have a doctorate degree, making obtaining a DNP an even rarer and more rewarding professional goal. Nurse Practitioners magazine stated that the average salary of NPs with a DNP degree was $96,807 per year,  while the Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the nursing profession, as a whole, will see an approximate 31 percent increase in available jobs between 2014 and 2024. 
After completing an appropriate DNP program, educated nurses can distinguish themselves in practice by producing in-depth scholarly projects, which incorporate the curriculum of their DNP program with hands-on observations to argue for or evaluate a particular nursing concept. Examples of recently completed scholarly DNP projects include; the implementation of evidence-based chronic disease care, nurse retention in a correctional facility, and creating a culture of blameless reporting and transparency in nursing education.  Using their education as a catalyst, the authors of these projects contributed their own perspectives to the advancement of the nursing discipline.
Health care is seeing an industry-wide demand for advanced practice nurses trained at the doctoral level due to the changing landscape, drive for improved patient outcomes, and a shortage of qualified nurses. If you’re an RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and ready to take your career to a higher level, the Regis College’s BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice online program can prepare you for advanced nursing practice.
1. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing
2. Nurse Journal – What Is the Average Salary with a DNP Degree?
3. Nurse Journal – Why Get a Doctorate of Nursing DNP Degree?
4. American Association of Colleges of Nursing
5. Doctors of Nursing Practice
6. Doctors of Nursing Practice – DNP Scholarly Projects
7. American Association of Colleges of Nursing – Fact Sheet
8. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics