Nurses represent the largest portion of the healthcare workforce. Patients rely on nurses for their knowledge about treating health conditions. Because the state of healthcare is constantly evolving due to financial restrictions, changes in policy, and the introduction of new techniques and procedures, nurses have to know how to adapt and apply their clinical expertise.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is one way the healthcare industry and nursing schools are making sure nurses are prepared to deliver optimal patient care.
What Can You Do With a DNP Degree?
The DNP degree program is the highest-level clinical preparation a nurse can complete. This degree is for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) and nurse administrators who have earned a master's degree in nursing.
With a DNP degree, nurses can work as nurse practitioners in a variety of settings, including hospitals, government, or a private practice.
Why Is There a DNP Degree Option?
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM), renamed the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) in 2015, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began a two-year initiative The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health to study the nursing profession and make recommendations. The report's findings support the need to "double the number of nurses with a doctorate by 2020."
To meet the need for more nurses with a DNP, at least 10 percent of baccalaureate graduates should go on to complete a master's or doctorate degree within five years.
What Is the Value of a DNP Degree?
Because much of the healthcare industry is following the IOM recommendation, nurses have the opportunity to advance in clinical nursing and increase their income. Moreover, nurses who obtain a DNP degree are better prepared for the changes occurring in nursing. Eventually, a DNP may be the required degree for nurse practitioners and other APRNs.
A DNP program prepares nurses to lead interprofessional healthcare teams and improve patient health outcomes. In addition, a DNP aligns the educational preparation of nurse practitioners with its equivalent in other healthcare professions such as medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Why Do Nurses Pursue a DNP degree?
A DNP degree program prepares nurses to use evidence-based research in the delivery of patient care. These nurses understand how diseases progress from a clinical viewpoint, and they apply critical thinking to solve complicated medical problems. They also are knowledgeable about the business and management aspects of healthcare.
Nurses with a DNP are also helping to decrease the nursing shortage because they are prepared to become nurse educators in clinical settings. By instructing nurses, they may ensure that a new generation of nurses continues to meet the challenges in medicine. DNP nurses can also teach in academia. Nurses with a Ph.D. do research and are prepared to become nurse educators in academic settings.
Nurses with a DNP degree can influence healthcare policy by consulting with or educating administration or governmental agencies regarding healthcare issues or needs. The results from their advocacy or consultation may lead to better patient care and a safer healthcare environment.
How Do DNP Degree Programs Prepare Nurses?
Nurses who complete a DNP degree program have a grasp of the biological, psychological and social sciences, and they know how to connect this knowledge to providing patient care.
Furthermore, nurses with DNP degrees are prepared to step into leadership roles that include implementing:
- Cost-saving measures.
- Practice management.
- Risk management plans.
- Strategies for quality patient care.
Patient care often involves a team of healthcare professionals. The skills taught in a DNP degree program prepare nurses to effectively communicate and participate in a joint effort to provide patient care.
What Are the Responsibilities of a Nurse Practitioner?
Nurse practitioners examine, diagnose and treat patients with illnesses and injuries. In addition, they educate the public about disease prevention and assist patients with recovery. They may work independently or collaborate with other healthcare professionals as well as manage nurses and medical staff.
What Is the Salary for Nurse Practitioners?
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for nurse practitioners as of December 2018 was $92,433. The median annual income for nurse anesthetists was $140,545 and $91,561 for certified nurse midwives.
What Is the Job Outlook for Nurse Practitioners?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) predicts that the job growth for the category that includes nurse practitioners will rise 31 percent from 2016 to 2026. The flourishing job market for these professions is growing at a much faster rate than that for other occupations during the same time period.
Currently, APRNs only need a master's degree. But within the next few years, there may be a shift in the requirements and APRNs may be required to hold a DNP degree. The nursing profession is falling in line with the standards of similar medical degrees as in dentistry (DDS), medicine (MD), psychology (PsyD) and pharmacy (PharmD).
A DNP degree aids nurses in gaining a salary boost, navigating the complex world of patient care and preparing for the forthcoming evolution in healthcare.
Learn more about Doctor of Nursing Practice Online.
- What to Expect in an Online DNP Program
- The Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DNP
- Job Options for a DNP Graduate
- Nurse Director Carey Savoie Earning Third Degree Online at UTA
- Michelle Gomez, MBA, MSN, BSN, RN, NE-BC, Gets Second Start at UTA
Sources:Michigan Center for Nursing: What does a "Doctor of Nursing Practice" Mean to You?
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