The health care industry is projected to experience strong growth in coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 31 percent growth in the nurse practitioner field between 2016 and 2026, which is well above the average profession’s projected 7 percent growth during that same time period. Earning an advanced nursing degree can lead to a broader range of job openings. While some of these positions may be attainable after earning an MSN, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) can provide students with an advanced skill set and knowledge base, enabling them to pursue more competitive career paths in the field.
Why Get a DNP?
A DNP does more than potentially unlock high-level opportunities that may not be open to nursing professionals with only an MSN. The degree, which commonly takes about two years to complete, can prepare students to become instruments of change and innovation in a complex industry. A DNP helps professionals make sense of the constant changes in health care, ultimately allowing them to develop industry-shaping strategies that can help facilities deliver high-quality health care that improves patient outcomes. A 2015 survey conducted by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners reported that bringing change to the health care industry was a prime motivator for many nurses in their choice to attain a DNP.
Key Benefits of a DNP
Advanced Skill Development
Earning a DNP may help nurses build upon the skills they acquired during their MSN programs. Additionally, the DNP’s advanced curriculum can allow students to further develop their expertise in specific concentrations or career specialties they may have pursued in a master’s program, such as the pediatric nurse practitioner or adult-geriatric nurse practitioner track. Sharpening these skills in a DNP program also provides a more complete understanding of the business of health care, such as mastering different organizational and economic competencies required for senior-level roles. Together, these skills may help qualify students for unique executive opportunities, roles that combine the compassion of nursing with the acumen of corporate guidance.
The advanced skills acquired in a DNP program may also have a significant impact on a practical, clinical level. DNP graduates can become well-versed in advanced clinical techniques that other nursing or medical professionals can’t effectively execute. In some cases, knowledge of these techniques may do more than improve patient outcomes — it could help save lives.
Many of the roles that DNPs can pursue are high-level leadership positions that allow them to manage various aspects of a clinic’s health care process. Leadership responsibilities could range from overseeing the nurses who deliver patient care to being involved in running a facility’s operations in an executive role, such as chief nursing officer (CNO). Attaining a DNP equips students with the ability to lead others with confidence. Strong leaders can motivate and inspire others to carry out a facility’s health care strategies and improve patient outcomes.
Teaching the next generation of nurses to be effective leaders in health care is a noble goal. A DNP can provide graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively navigate through the industry and provide guidance to nursing professionals. Mentorship can not only help improve a nurse’s job performance but also increase the quality of care a nurse provides to patients.
A DNP can equip graduates with a heightened ability to break down complex health care situations. These professionals can make smart, informed decisions that can provide short-term benefits to a facility and its health care strategies while still keeping long-term goals in sight. Ultimately, the ability to efficiently assess difficult scenarios and find innovative solutions can go a long way toward helping a health care facility operate efficiently.
DNP graduates may have opportunities to use their expert clinical knowledge to conduct research projects that can have a positive impact on care delivery. Because of the practice-based nature of most DNP-associated roles, these professionals may also be in a position to immediately use their research findings to inform their own health care strategies.
The rise of information technology has positively impacted health care in several ways, from facilitating the development of health care strategies to making doctor-patient interactions easier. DNP graduates who develop an advanced understanding of informatics can help guide nurses in using IT solutions to enhance clinical and proactive care for their patients.
Earning a DNP has the potential to open professionals to a host of executive-level health care positions that may not be accessible with only an MSN. The responsibilities in executive positions can range from running specialized clinics, such as nursing homes, to overseeing clinical operations as a chief nursing officer. DNP graduates may even apply their skills to the educational field as a clinical instructor.
A Growing, Well-Paying Professional Field
Because of the significant projected job growth for nurse practitioners in the next decade, DNP graduates will likely have ample opportunity to pursue more advanced nursing roles. These positions also tend to be rather lucrative. For instance, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the 2017 median pay for advanced practice nurses to be around $111,000, and PayScale lists the average salary for CNOs at approximately $126,000. The starting salary can differ for these positions, but there is potential for nursing professionals to earn a greater income in these roles.
A Rewarding Conclusion to an Educational Journey
A DNP is a terminal degree that can help graduates reach in-demand, higher-level positions in health care. The advanced skills students hone in a DNP program can enable nursing professionals become innovative practitioners adept at tackling health care’s complex problems and challenges. While the degree can potentially open doors to more lucrative positions, it may also allow graduates to become leaders in one of the world’s most vital industries.
Place yourself on the cutting edge of nursing practice by earning your online DNP degree from Regis College. Speak with an enrollment adviser today about how Regis College’s online MSN to DNP program can help prepare you for your future in nursing.
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