When Will Nurse Practitioners Need a Doctorate to Continue Advancing Their Careers?

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a female nurse sitting at a desk while using a laptop

Deciding how to advance one’s nursing career can be a confusing experience. Standards for health care professionals are constantly changing, and medical technology is always evolving. Fortunately, educational institutions are keeping up with these developments, offering programs that prepare students to work in high-level nursing professions. By pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), nurses can gain more in-depth medical knowledge, strengthen their leadership skills, and climb the health care career ladder.

Nursing Career Opportunities

NPs can apply their skills outside of clinical settings by seeking employment in roles such as corporate wellness consultant, medical writer, and health educator. In these professions, nurses can help maintain the health and wellness of a community without being based in a traditional care facility.

For those who want to take their nursing education and career prospects to the next level, enrolling in a DNP program can put them on the right path. A DNP enables nurses to master more specialized medical knowledge and choose specialties that are typically out of reach for nurses who have only a bachelor’s degree.

Common career choices for nurses with DNPs include psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, gerontology nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, and women’s health nurse practitioner. These career paths open up for DNP nurses as they expand their clinical knowledge, more directly influence decisions about a patient’s care, and learn how information technology can apply to and improve the practice of nursing. Nurses with a DNP are also more likely to hold leadership and research positions, such as nurse educator, nurse administrator, and nurse researcher.

The DNP Curriculum

The Doctor of Nursing Practice curriculum is designed to prepare nurses for more advanced careers in health care. For example, Regis College offers DNP courses such as Epidemiology/Biostatistics, which gives students the tools they need to further understand how diseases affect populations — valuable knowledge for nurses who work in public health. Advanced Health Assessment and Advanced Pathophysiology improve nurses’ clinical skills, while Advanced Research Methods can make DNP graduates stronger candidates for nurse researcher positions. Students who are interested in the technological aspects of nursing may take Informatics in Healthcare. Several DNP courses teach students skills that are important in all nursing occupations. For example, Cultural Perspectives in Health Care prepares students to acknowledge and appreciate the variety of cultures they will encounter as they treat diverse patient populations.

DNP Concentrations

A Doctor of Nursing Practice also empowers nurses to further specialize their careers. Regis College’s online BSN to Doctor of Nursing program offers concentrations in Pediatrics, Psychiatric Mental Health, Adult Gerontology, Family, and Women’s Health. All of these concentrations require students to take clinical courses that emphasize improving their core clinical skills. Nurses in these concentrations also have the choice to enroll in courses that are more narrowly focused on their chosen paths of study. Examples include Psychopharmacology for Psychiatric Mental Health students; Care of Childbearing Women for those in the Pediatrics and Family programs; and Political, Financial, and Social Issues in Gerontology for students who chose the Gerontology concentration.

DNP Program Requirements

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Regis College goes beyond the minimum requirements to become a nurse practitioner and sets up graduates for future leadership roles, higher incomes, and more autonomy. According to the Mayo Clinic, nurse practitioners must:

  • Possess excellent leadership skills
  • Have applicable analytical skills
  • Hold at least bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing
  • Be a licensed registered nurse

To enroll in the online BSN to DNP program at Regis, students must have:

  • A BSN
  • An RN license
  • A minimum 3.0 GPA

The application requires a resume and two essays, but the GRE is not an admission requirement.

Learn More

Doctor of Nursing Practice programs can provide expanded employment options, specialized clinical skills, and increased leadership and decision-making responsibilities for nurses who are eager to work toward advanced careers in their fields. The job placement rate of the online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Regis College reflects employers’ high demand for nurses with advanced degrees: 97 percent of graduates have found a job within six months of graduation. Learn more about courses and future career options on Regis’ BSN to DNP program website.

Recommended Readings:

What Can I Do with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Career Outlook: How to Become a Nurse Consultant

What Are the Requirements to Be a Nurse Practitioner?



Health eCareers

Monster, “7 Jobs for Nurses That Aren’t in Nursing”

Regis College, Online MSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice

Regis College, Online BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice

Mayo Clinic, Nurse Practitioner