While some nursing programs require students to obtain a master’s degree before earning their Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, today many educational institutions offer another option by giving students the opportunity to obtain a DNP degree directly after receiving their bachelor’s. These programs emphasize developing core practical nursing competencies to enhance patient outcomes through a curriculum primarily focused on clinical leadership, education, and patient care.
Earning a BSN to DNP degree online can open new opportunities for individual career advancement and improve the capacity of the health care industry. For nurses who are already educated and certified to practice as registered nurse (RN) — and who wish to advance to even greater levels of responsibility and authority — pursuing a DNP can be advantageous in many ways.
What Is a DNP?
To begin, it may be helpful to consider the specific characteristics of this nursing degree. Examining what a DNP is and what it teaches can help nursing professionals understand its potential impact on their careers.
The DNP at a Glance
The DNP prepares nurses to administer the highest level of patient care and empowers them to lead high-level nursing research. The typical DNP program builds on master’s-level curricula by focusing on evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership.
Comparing the DNP with Other Programs
The DNP represents a terminal degree opportunity within the nursing profession. In other words, there is no higher nursing degree to pursue. However, it’s not the only terminal-level degree in nursing. Nurses may also opt for a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing. The primary difference between the two is the DNP tends to focus more on clinical care and making improvements within a health system, while the Ph.D. is geared more toward nurses who wish to pursue an academic or research-focused path.
Earning a BSN to DNP Online
While some students choose to get their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) as a stepping stone to their DNP, others may opt for a BSN to DNP program. Not only can this abbreviate the length of their academic studies, but it may also be flexible and convenient to pursue this degree opportunity in a remote learning environment.
5 Reasons to Get a BSN to DNP
Enrolling in an online BSN to DNP program presents many potential benefits. Nurses who earn this advanced degree may become better equipped to provide superior patient care, become more competitive for nurse leadership roles, or become eligible for prestigious research positions. Consider some specific benefits of advancing from the BSN to DNP level.
1. 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. For example, initial projections for 2022 anticipated a 6.5% increase in the price of medical care as well as an increase in the number of people seeking care, according to PwC.
While DNP graduates are not full-fledged physicians, BSN-degreed nurses, through DNP coursework, can obtain clinical skills that are vital to providing effective preventive services and other primary care to patients. Advanced nursing professionals can also help patients control expenses. A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies Advances reports the care provided by advanced practice nurses yielded positive outcomes in a variety of areas, including patient care and cost-effectiveness.
Although these advanced nurses are sometimes required to operate under the supervision of a qualified physician, many states allow DNP nurses to practice independently as primary care providers if they have obtained the proper training and qualifications.
The training of DNP-educated nurses in holistic care makes their role in the primary care workforce crucial to 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.
2. DNP Nurses Remove Barriers to Provide Higher Levels of Clinical Care
An important role of the DNP nurse involves participating in efforts to remove the professional and legal barriers that limit the ability of nursing professionals to provide effective primary clinical care. One such barrier can be found within the medical industry itself, as physicians grow more concerned that the expanding role of DNP nurses may limit the authority of physicians and potentially compromise patient outcomes.
Another reason why getting a BSN to DNP degree makes sense is that, by honing their expertise through a DNP program, nurses can advocate for health care reform. By using data that shows high patient satisfaction levels and positive health care outcomes for their patients, nurses can certify their competence and mitigate physician concerns. A 2021 report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortage of as many as 124,000 physicians by 2034. The report also examined scenarios for minimizing this shortage by increasing the use of other advanced medical professionals, including nurse practitioners.
3. 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 patient communities they serve.
The holistic medical practices typically reinforced by a DNP curriculum are likely to enhance a nurse’s ability to develop new health care techniques. These techniques recognize each patient’s need for unique care strategies. They incorporate components of patients’ social, physical, and mental characteristics, such as culture, life experiences, and medical history.
4. DNP Nurses Lead in Clinical Practice and Nurse Education
DNP nurses can become valued leaders by applying their extensive nursing expertise to organize health care institutions and support the advancement of nursing practice. They’re capable of contributing innovative ideas to the leadership strategies used in their respective facilities to improve patient care and population health outcomes. They’re also essential to educating and mentoring less experienced nurses across all clinical settings.
In comparison to their BSN-holding colleagues, a DNP-credentialed nurse typically has far more opportunities to lead in the medical field. This is because their education has prepared them to collaborate with physicians and other nurse administrators to educate other nurses.
5. DNP Nurses Are Well Compensated and Have Strong Career Options
There’s currently an extreme shortage of nurses and nurse educators. A 2021 survey of nursing leaders by Wolters Kluwer revealed that 92% anticipated being short-staffed in the 18 months following the survey. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 46% growth in nurse practitioner jobs between 2021 and 2031.
Because of the significant demand for advanced practice nurses and the high level of skill the role requires, nurse practitioners can earn generous salaries. The median annual wage for nurse practitioners was $120,680 in 2021, the BLS reports.
After completing a DNP program, nurses can distinguish themselves in practice in various ways. One key strategy is to produce in-depth scholarly projects. These projects may incorporate the curriculum of their DNP program with hands-on observations to argue for or evaluate a particular nursing concept that can improve health care outcomes. Nurses who earn terminal degrees may consider this to be a professional responsibility.
Discover Why Earning a BSN to DNP Degree Can Advance Your Career
Health care is experiencing an industry-wide demand for advanced practice nurses who are trained at the doctoral level. The changing medical landscape, drive for improved patient outcomes, and the shortage of qualified nurses are all sound reasons to enroll in an online BSN to DNP program. Additionally, multiple organizations have advocated for making the DNP — not the MSN — the entry-level degree for nurse practitioners.
If you’re a nurse with a bachelor’s degree in nursing who’s ready to take your career to a higher level, the Regis College online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice program can prepare you for advanced nursing practice.
Discover how Regis College can help you reach your nursing leadership goals.