The demands of the nursing profession extend far beyond patient care. Nurses must be leaders, researchers, advocates, and lifelong students who are eager to learn new ways to promote the health and wellness of the people in their communities. A successful career in nursing requires a dynamic and broad skill set, particularly when nurses pursue an advanced health care specialty or management role. An effective way to acquire such capabilities is by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
Essential Skills for the Nursing Profession
Nursing, like health care itself, evolves continually in response to technological advances, medical breakthroughs, and regulatory changes. Nurses need to recognize and adapt to these changes in a way that enables them to deliver quality care and have a positive impact on their patients’ health.
The following six skills are key to successfully navigating the DNP curriculum and pursuing a career in advanced nursing practice.
Advanced Health Assessment
A key component of the DNP curriculum is advanced health assessment, which has traditionally focused on physical examinations of patients. However, graduate nursing programs are increasingly preparing nurse practitioner (NP) students to provide more specialized types of care for subsets of the patient population, such as children and pregnant women. The Advanced Health Assessment course in Regis College’s BSN to DNP program, for example, offers students a choice of five specialties: pediatrics, family, psychiatric mental health, women’s health, and adult geriatrics. Even in states that require NPs to work in collaboration with a physician, advanced health assessment skills enable nurses to provide valuable feedback and help develop a complete patient care strategy.
All nurses benefit from developing leadership skills because all nursing positions entail interacting with and motivating other health professionals, particularly students and assistants. Advanced practice nurses in management positions depend on their leadership abilities to ensure the success of their departments and staffs, as well as positive patient outcomes. Regis College’s BSN to DNP curriculum includes several courses designed to enhance a nurse’s leadership skills, including Concepts in Nursing Leadership and Regulatory Issues in Nursing Leadership.
In recent years, the nursing profession has been at the forefront of applying new medical knowledge in clinical settings. Evidence-based research is transforming the way nurses function as members of health care teams whose common goal is to improve performance and health outcomes. DNP programs prepare nurses for lead roles in health care teams that put the latest medical discoveries into practice at the front lines of patient care. The DNP curriculum at Regis College features two courses in evidence-based research and practice: Advanced Research Methods for Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) and Informatics in Health Care, Clinical Seminars, and Scholarly DNP Projects.
Innovation has become a key attribute of successful nursing practice, particularly as a way to address the increasing complexity of health care systems and procedures. All nursing positions now require the ability to devise creative technical solutions to unique and unanticipated problems. Instilling this spirit of technical innovation in nursing staffs will be an increasingly important duty for nurse managers and nursing leaders. The DNP program at Regis College features courses designed to promote innovation in various health care settings. Among these courses are Epidemiology/Biostatistics, Advanced Pathophysiology, and Advanced Pharmacology.
While interpersonal skills are vital to effective communication in nursing practice, many other capabilities come into play to ensure patients, their families and loved ones, and all members of nursing teams comprehend the important issues involved in providing quality health care. The importance of communication skills to a successful nursing career is demonstrated in the curriculum of DNP programs such as that offered by Regis College. Nurses interact with patients from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Doing so effectively is the focus of the Cultural Perspectives in Health Care course. Other courses that enhance a nurse’s ability to serve a diverse populace are Health Policy, Politics, and Perspectives; Political, Financial, and Social Issues in Gerontology; and Roles and Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing.
The American Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Nurses states that a nurse “promotes, advocates for, and strives to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.” In practice, advocating for patients faces legal and organizational limits. Nurses are charged with informing their patients’ decision-making processes, as well as representing and speaking up for patients’ rights. The curriculum for Regis College’s DNP program prepares advanced practice nurses to serve these vital roles on behalf of patients. For example, Roles and Issues in Advanced Practice Nursing addresses the expectations and limitations of patient advocacy in nursing, and Cultural Perspectives in Health Care provides advanced practice nurses with a deeper understanding of how patients and their families from various backgrounds respond differently in clinical settings.
Degrees, Certifications, and Credentials That Enhance a Nursing Career
Nurses may qualify for additional career options by pursuing educational opportunities that lead to advanced degrees, specialty credentials, and certifications. For example, certified registered nurse anesthetists earned a median salary of $165,120 in 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also forecasts a 31 percent increase in the number of jobs for nurse anesthetists between 2016 and 2026, compared with the 7 percent growth projected for all professions. Other certifications for specialty nurse practitioners include certified gerontological NP, pain management specialist, Certified Nurse-Midwife by the American Midwifery Certification Board, and board-certified family nurse practitioner.
Foundational Skills for a Fundamental Position
The goal of nursing is to provide high-quality health care that improves patient outcomes. Earning a DNP allows graduates to refine skills that play a significant role in achieving this goal in clinical settings. The Regis College DNP curriculum prepares advanced practice nurses to take on positions of leadership in the health care industry and to make a significant impact on the lives of their patients and in their profession.
Regis College prepares nurse practitioners to take the next step in their careers with the online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice. RNs with a bachelor’s degree who enroll in the program complete the same rigorous academic curriculum as traditional students but with the flexibility of online courses.