Essential DNP Courses for Nursing Students

View all blog posts under Articles | View all blog posts under Doctor of Nursing Practice

A nurse with a clipboard consults with patients

A nursing shortage looms on the health care industry’s horizon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a need for nearly 277,000 additional registered nurses (RNs) from 2020 to 2030, and other studies project the retirement of roughly 4.7 million nurses worldwide 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 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) program, allows nursing professionals to hone the skills required to gain an optimal understanding of these concepts. Ultimately, completing essential DNP courses provides nursing professionals with the skills 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, including analytical competencies and mathematics as well as soft skills like interpersonal communication and organization.

Enrollment in a DNP program can equip nurses with the wide-ranging skills to qualify for a high-level nursing role. These roles include those focused on direct patient care as well as positions in nurse leadership or nursing policymaking. For example, a DNP’s advanced education provides a much more robust understanding of health care procedures and administrative policies than is offered through a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This can empower DNP graduates to play a greater role in advocating for new procedures or institutional changes.

A DNP program can also instill more rigorous research standards, providing nurses with a better understanding of evidence-based patient care. Finally, DNP subspecialties allow nurses to specialize in areas of patient care they are most interested in pursuing. For instance, a DNP student can elect to hone their skills in adult-gerontology care or in women’s health, depending on their career goals and the patient populations they most want to serve.

Key DNP Courses

Earning a DNP can enhance a nurse’s ability to play a crucial part in ensuring 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 the skills that allow nurses to lay the foundation for providing consistent, high-quality care, regardless of the practice size.

Cultural Perspectives 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 who focus on cultural perspectives help nurses solidify their cultural and diversity awareness, which can help advanced-practice nurses devise inclusive care strategies. The coursework 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 important information about specific health issues, then build strategies to overcome the issue. This concept requires developing skills that go beyond typical clinical competencies, such as mathematics.

A DNP curriculum can help students effectively use epidemiology and biostatistics, and it can also optimize other competencies considered central 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, including patient-accessible electronic health records (EHRs). The rise in informatics has made it easier for patients and nurses to build collaborative, active 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 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 development of care techniques and strategies that contribute to more effective, efficient patient care.

Health Policy, Politics, and Perspectives

Some of the most crucial aspects of health care delivery happen outside 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. In some cases, it may 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 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 particularly crucial given the urgent need to mitigate the projected nursing shortage.

Learn how enrollment in essential DNP courses in Regis College’s online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice program can provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to be impactful leaders in the health care industry.

Recommended Reading:

APRN vs. NP: Understanding Nursing Categories

Inpatient vs. Outpatient Care: What’s the Difference?

What Is Patient-Centered Care? A Key Component for Advanced Nursing Care


CGFNS International, Nursing Workforce Crisis Looms

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, Registered Nurses