Evolving demands in U.S. health care call for the “highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes,” as noted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs, which offer nurses the opportunity to advance their careers, are growing in popularity. According to the AACN, between 2017 and 2018, the number of DNP program students increased by about 12%, while the number of DNP graduates increased by over 15%.
The BSN-to-DNP and MSN-to-DNP programs are designed for credentialed RNs to attain a doctorate degree and the skills and expertise that go with it. In addition, within the areas of specialization — pediatrics, family, psychiatric mental health, women’s health, and adult gerontology — the programs train nurses for expert practice in leadership and clinical roles.
Pediatrics (PNP DNP)
The pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) works in primary and specialty health care, with patients ranging from infants to young adults. A May/June, 20195 white paper study published in Journal of Pediatric Health CarePediatrics notes that “despite the specific demand for pediatric care, there is a forecasted critical shortage of PNPs over the next decade.” As such, there are more expected job openings than available professional PNPs.
PNP roles include conducting routine checkups, meeting with children and families, ordering lab tests, diagnosing illnesses, and prescribing treatment options such as therapy or medication. PNPDNP trained nurses focus on primary health care of children and help to solve and drive child health care outcomes.
Family (FNP DNP)
An FNP meets the health needs of family members of all ages. While many FNPs work in established health care systems such as hospitals, others may run their own practice or act as consultants. According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), FNPs make up around 67% of all NPs.
Nurses trained in FNPDNP can deal with patients in a wide array of settings, including managing chronic conditions and serving as the primary health care provider. Students who graduate with an FNPDNP can utilize technology to improve efficiency, evaluate outcomes of clinical testing, and create methods of delivery for healthcare to diverse populations.
Psychiatric Mental Health (PMHNP DNP)
The psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP) concentration prepares graduates to work with patients on mental health issues, usually within primary care. Daily roles of a PMHNP include assessing mental health needs of children or adults, diagnosing psychiatric conditions, providing primary health care in a mental health setting, prescribing medication, and developing treatment plans with patients.
A student who graduates with a PNHNP DNP specializes in primary care psychiatric services of both adults and children. At the end of this course of study, a graduate should be able to diagnose mental disorders, neurophysiology, and pathophysiology, as well as plan out courses of individual, group, and family psychotherapy. Furthermore, a PNHNP DNP will be able to manage medication for his or her patients.
Women’s Health (WHNP DNP)
The women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) concentration focuses on women’s comprehensive health needs. WHNPs may specialize in obstetric, gynecological, or reproductive health.
A WHNP DNP practitioner serves as a primary health care worker for women, with many graduates finding work in hospitals or women’s health clinics. A graduate goes beyond pre-natal and postpartum care, and addresses women’s unique responses to illness throughout their lifespan. Additionally, through evidence-based methodology, a WHNP DNP practitioner can develop and implement initiatives to improve the quality of health care to a particular subset of women.
Adult Gerontology (AGNP DNP)
Adult-Gerontology nurse practitioners (AGNP) focus on treating patients in advanced age by working to prevent illness and promote good health practices. Some AGNPs further specialize in areas such as diabetes, palliative care, and health policy. The AANP notes that adult-gerontology acute care NPs make up 3.1% of all NPs, and it is the most common practice in hospital inpatient units (53.6%).
AGNP DNP graduates are tasked with performing extensive health assessments of their patients, including ordering diagnostics where necessary. Using their strong biological science foundation, a practitioner should be able to create diagnoses based on distressing symptoms and chronic health conditions. Additionally, an AGNP DNP needs to be able to evaluate both medication and non-medicationbased treatments.
DNP Nursing Education
The DNP nursing education concentration prepares graduates to educate future nurses, patients, and the public. Nurse educators are employed by colleges, universities, professional schools, general medical and surgical hospitals, technical and trade schools, business schools, and computer and management training centers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Prepare for Success with a DNP Specialty
Whether considering a BSN to DNP program or an MSN to DNP program, both provide nursing professionals with advanced health care skills and the education needed for success. The Regis College BSN-DNP program offers a variety of concentrations to suit each professional’s desired specialty, while the MSN-DNP program focuses on specific education and research opportunities aligned with student interest. Contact Regis College today for more information on either program.
Why Earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice: Potential DNP Salary and Career Outcomes
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): Psychiatric Nursing Careers
DNP Career Paths That Involve Caring for Elderly Patients
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Fact Sheet
American Association of Nurse Practitioners, NP Fact Sheet
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Interview with a Nursing Instructor
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2017: Nursing Instructor and Teachers, Postsecondary
National Council for Behavioral Health, “The Psychiatric Shortage”
PayScale, Average Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (AGNP) Salary
PayScale, Average Family Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Average Nurse Educator Salary
Payscale, Average Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Salary
PayScale, Average Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (NP) Salary
PayScale, Salary for Certification: Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP)
Pediatrics, “Strategic Modeling of the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner Workforce”
Regis College, Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice
Regis College, Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (Nurse Education)
Regis College, “The Unique Need for Women’s Health NPs”