For registered nurses who possess a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice can be a practical next step for a variety of different reasons — particularly because the DNP curriculum helps qualify graduates for licensure and careers in advanced practice registered nursing roles. Earning a DNP can also sharpen nurses’ leadership skills, making them viable candidates for health care jobs that do not involve direct patient care.
Professional Skills Commonly Gained Through a DNP Curriculum
To fully use their education during their careers, it is important that DNP students develop some of the following critical skills:
● Interpersonal Communication. Nurses spend a significant portion of their workday interacting with patients and colleagues. By becoming familiar with the ways that people can effectively communicate with one another in a health care setting, they can ensure that important information is properly shared. This can be helpful in many situations, such as planning clinical strategies or educating patients and their families.
● Attention to Detail. All nurses must be careful when assessing patients or providing care. DNP graduates often have particularly sensitive responsibilities that can be compromised by even small mistakes. Through their coursework, these professionals are taught how to thoroughly process any information that may be pertinent to their work, offering them a more accurate perception of workplace scenarios. This heightened level of attention to detail can help them avoid issues that could result in negative health outcomes for their patients.
● Leadership. In health care facilities, each department needs knowledgeable leaders who can keep operations organized. The DNP curriculum prepares nursing professionals to take on this role by showing them how to manage employees and optimize performance using a variety of metrics. This includes teaching them how to lead the charge in developing strategies that can improve quality, reduce costs, and mitigate risks in their respective departments.
● Research and Analysis. In advanced practice nursing, leveraging evidence is key to achieving positive health outcomes in patients. By sharpening their research skills, DNP students learn how they can collect information and translate it into practice. They also learn how to analyze data and use their findings to create new nursing interventions, inform health policy, and improve the quality of care offered by their organizations.
● Advanced Problem Solving. Some patients face complex health situations. Therefore, DNP programs emphasize teaching their students how to apply advanced problem-solving skills to their nursing practice. This entails identifying a problem, determining ways to solve it, and then taking the corresponding action.
Core Courses Featured in a Typical DNP Curriculum
● Health Promotion and Disease Prevention. In this course, DNP students learn how to identify health risks and advocate for healthier lifestyles in communities.
● Advanced Research Methods for Evidence-Based Practice. Postsecondary education may include some coursework that covers basic research methods, but evidence-based practice often requires highly in-depth fact-finding. This course aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the prominent research techniques being employed by today’s leaders in the medical field.
● Cultural Perspectives in Health Care. A person’s cultural background can influence his or her definition of “quality care.” This class helps students understand how to respectfully accommodate the cultural needs of patients.
● Health Policy, Politics, and Perspectives. Upon receiving a terminal degree, many nursing professionals have enough knowledge and experience to contribute meaningfully to the process of drafting health policy for their communities. By teaching students how policy and politics intermingle with medical professions, DNP programs aim to prepare their graduates to help create useful health policy.
Specialized Classes Featured in a Typical DNP Curriculum
The DNP curriculum aims to produce graduates who can skillfully provide health services to specific demographics. Taking classes that are unique to a discipline helps students excel in their respective fields. Here are a few examples of such courses:
● Care of Childbearing Women. Family nurse practitioners, pediatric nurse practitioners, and women’s health nurse practitioners commonly provide some level of prenatal and postnatal care to patients. In this sense, it is important that they be well-informed about the intricate nature of caring for women before and after women give birth.
● Psychopharmacology. Psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioners often treat patients who need a prescription medication to realign their mental state. This course teaches nursing professionals how to assess a patient’s mental health and prescribe medication that will improve the individual’s well-being.
● Political, Financial, and Social Issues in Gerontology. Adult-gerontology nurse practitioners often work with older patients who are dealing with life pressures, such as financial distress or a negative home environment. These problems can impact the patient’s social status and sometimes the progression of the patient’s symptoms or condition. This course will teach nurses how to help older patients cope with their health situations.
Students who want to make a difference in patients’ health and wellbeing as nurse practitioners can follow their career goals for patient care and leadership with a degree program that offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Regis College offers the rigorous curriculum these advanced practice professionals need in an accessible, online BSN to DNP program.