DNP Essentials: 5 Courses and the Skills Doctor of Nursing Practice Students Can Master

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Female DNP in blue scrubs evaluates elderly patient.

A nursing shortage looms on the health care industry’s horizon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a need for nearly 440,000 additional registered nurses (RNs) from 2016 to 2026, and other studies project the retirement of roughly 1 million RNs by 2030. These numbers indicate not only a need for new nurses to meet the demand but also a need for highly skilled advanced practice nurses to guide them through the complexities of health care’s constantly fluctuating landscape. With a mastery of key nursing concepts, these top-level nurses help to build the foundation of modern health care delivery. An advanced degree program, such as Regis College’s online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), allows nursing professionals to hone the skills required to gain an optimal understanding of these concepts. Ultimately, having knowledge of these DNP essentials carries the potential to develop health care strategies that improve patient outcomes.

The Importance of a DNP

Earning a DNP serves a twofold purpose. First, the curriculum covers numerous concepts that are critical to effective advanced practice nursing, such as research methods, informatics, and cultural perspectives. Second, the courses collectively allow students to deepen the skills needed for success in the field at a high level, including both analytical competencies and mathematics and soft skills like interpersonal communication and organizational skills.

Key Advanced Nursing Courses

Earning a DNP can enhance a nurse’s ability to play a crucial part in ensuring that a facility provides optimal care to its patients. DNP essentials commonly include the cultural, technical, administrative, and educational aspects of health care delivery. The following courses can help refine skills that can allow nurses to lay the foundation for enabling consistent, high-quality care, regardless of the practice size.

Cultural Perspective in Health Care

Caring for patients properly and effectively requires treating them within the context of their cultural traditions and belief systems. This makes it crucial that advanced practice nurses are trained in cultural and diversity awareness. Having this knowledge ensures respectful care that honors the patient, and it also safeguards a facility from inadvertently creating an air of exclusion. DNP courses that focus on cultural perspective help nurses solidify their cultural and diversity awareness, which can help advanced practice nurses devise inclusive care strategies. The curriculum can also emphasize the strengthening of interpersonal communication skills, which can be crucial in ensuring a proper level of cultural sensitivity in a facility.

Advanced Epidemiology/Biostatistics

Epidemiology and biostatistics can be crucial to determining disease prevalence and potential outbreaks. Through scientific, systematic, and data-driven research, advanced practice nurses can derive crucial information concerning specific health issues, then build proactive strategies that can strive to overcome the issue. This concept requires the development of skills that go beyond typical clinical competencies, such as mathematics. A DNP curriculum can help students effectively utilize epidemiology and biostatistics, and it can also optimize other competencies considered crucial to the concept, such as critical thinking.

Informatics in Health Care

The field of informatics integrates information technology with nursing. This combination can lead to a more efficient means to communicate, store, and interact with patient data and information, including patient-accessible electronic health records (EHRs). The rise in informatics has made it easier for patients and nurses to build collaborative, proactive care strategies that could ultimately minimize clinical visits and out-of-pocket expenses. DNP programs strive to provide students with the advanced data collection, management, and analytical skills needed to understand informatics-driven patient information on an individual level. This could allow advanced practice nurses to develop personalized patient care strategies.

Advanced Research Methods for Evidence-Based Practice

Health care practices evolve through innovations sparked by sophisticated research methodologies and new strategies proven effective by experience-driven results. DNP graduates equipped with the skills to partake in advanced research and data interpretation can be at the forefront of these innovations. These nurses possess honed research analysis competencies that guide any methodology from start to finish. They also have a highly refined attention to detail that ensures the data being derived and studied is accurate with minimal chance for error. These skills can lead to the creation and development of care techniques and strategies that could lead to more effective, efficient patient care.

Health Policy, Politics, and Perspectives

Some of the most critical aspects of health care delivery happen outside of the patient-nurse relationship. The combination of health policy, politics, and perspective can greatly influence the day-to-day operations of a health care facility, and it can be up to an advanced practice nurse to correctly interpret these elements to deliver effective health care. These nurses can also be leaders who propose new policies, bringing their firsthand experience backed up by solid research to the discussion. DNP programs can prepare them through courses designed to develop professional research and communication skills.

Striving for Optimized Care

Collectively, the components of a DNP curriculum help students form a broader sense of health care, reaching beyond the basic nurse-to-patient dynamic. An advanced nursing program can provide a more fundamental understanding of the key modern concepts that drive patient care. This understanding is especially critical given the urgent need to mitigate the projected nursing shortage. Learn how Regis College’s online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice can provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be impactful leaders in the health care industry.

Recommended Readings
The Importance of Standardized Nursing Terminology and Classification Systems
The Pivotal Role of Orem’s Self-Care Deficit Theory
The Primary Care Provider Shortage: 2019 Update

American Association of Colleges of Nursing, Fact Sheet: Nursing Shortage
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What Is Epidemiology?
HIMSS, “Healthcare Informatics”
HIMSS, What Is Nursing Informatics?
Jones & Bartlett Learning, Evidence Based Practice for Health Professionals, “Chapter 2: Healthcare Research Methods”
Journal of Nursing Regulation, “Four Challenges Facing the Nursing Workforce in the United States”
National Institutes of Health, Cultural Respect
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses