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Doctor Of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Nursing is perhaps one of the most rewarding occupations one can choose. You can earn a solid living while assisting individuals from all walks of life in regaining their health. Furthermore, as a Doctor of Nursing practice, you can inspire others to contribute to patient outcomes improvement.

Whether you are a Registered Nurse or an advanced practice registered nurse with a master’s degree, getting a Doctor of Nursing Practice will provide you with the knowledge and certifications necessary to specialize in any area of nursing.

Apart from equipping you with the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate published evidence in order to make your healthcare practice better, enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program enables you to improve the quality of care and thus patient outcomes, or to assist students wherever you work.

However, what are the admission requirements for a DNP program? How much do these clinical experts earn? Additionally, what specialties do these clinical professionals serve?

This comprehensive guide to obtaining a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree will address all of those concerns and more.

What does a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree entail?

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program is designed to prepare nurses to practice at the greatest level of nursing expertise possible in healthcare. Enrolling in a DNP program equips nurses with the knowledge and skills necessary to improve patient outcomes at the community and industrial levels.

These clinical experts may fulfill duties that contribute to the quality of direct care. Additionally, they may contribute to the improvement of the medical facility’s outcomes by utilizing their organizational leadership abilities.

DNPs may also find themselves in a position to effect change in the sector. They accomplish this through enacting more favorable health policies, assisting nursing students, or joining the faculty of a university.

What Is the Function of a Doctor of Nursing Practice?

By joining advanced nursing practice, a DNP-holder nurse can assume a leadership role or provide direct patient care.

DNPs in Administration and Leadership

DNPs who choose to work in leadership positions have a significant impact on the facility’s outcomes by utilizing the most recent scientific discoveries.

Additionally, nurses with this credential assist in strengthening executive nurses’ leadership responsibilities within the organization.

These specialists are critical in developing cost-effective and sustainable care programs.

Nurses with a DNP degree may pursue careers in nursing management. They may also serve in a leadership capacity inside an organization, such as a hospital, school, or university. Additionally, they may contribute their skills to the development of improved health informatics systems and state and national healthcare legislation.

DNPs as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs)

If a nurse wishes to deliver care in a more “hands-on” manner, they may choose the Advanced Practice Nurses’ track. This track is designed for students interested in providing direct patient care. Their tasks may involve patient management as well as reviewing and evaluating the treatment received by those patients.

A nurse with a DNP degree who wishes to pursue advanced nursing practice must become certified as an advanced practice nurse (APRN). To do so, students must pass a test after graduating from university. DNPs may also be required to pass advanced specialized certification exams, depending on the specialty position desired.

DNPs are most frequently employed in the following positions:


These nurses deliver anesthesia in collaboration with a team of clinical experts. Beginning in 2025, the COA will require nurse anesthetists to receive a DNP or a Ph.D. before practicing.

Until that time, earning an MSN will suffice. Additionally, CRNAs will not be required to get a DNP retroactively.

Nurse Practitioner

NPs are accountable for the management of a patient’s care (with or without the supervision of a doctor, depending on the state).

Nurse practitioners can pursue specializations in gerontology, pediatric nursing, or neonatal nursing. Additionally, a nurse practitioner may opt to specialize in mental health or women’s health.

Nurse Midwife

Nurse midwives care for women’s reproductive health before to, during, and following childbirth. Additionally, they are tasked for providing primary care and counseling to the parent throughout the infant’s development.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists who complete a specialized degree are prepared to diagnose and treat patients at the bedside and in other healthcare settings. By 2030, the NACNS proposes that nurses in this specialty receive a DNP.

Is a DNP and a Ph.D. the Same Thing?

The DNP, like the Ph.D., is a terminal degree. Additionally, the DNP and Ph.D. are the only two doctoral-level nursing degrees.

You will be able to work as a Nurse Practitioner regardless of whether you get a DNP or a Ph.D. While neither degree is more “advanced” than the other, there are distinctions.

It is critical to understand that a Ph.D. is a more research-oriented degree that is often obtained by individuals interested in conducting scholarly research.

If you wish to work as a nurse practitioner after earning a Ph.D., you must first earn a post-graduate certificate. However, earning a practice-focused nursing degree, such as a DNP, will provide you an advantage in many instances while providing main or specialized care to patients.

You will possess all of the necessary expertise to implement evidence-based procedures.

Where Do Doctor Of Nursing Practice Work?

After completing a doctorate, nurses may pursue positions in health care administration. These leaders are responsible for ensuring the seamless operation of a medical institution or an entire leadership team on a daily basis.

A PhD holder may opt to work in the nursing education system, such as in a university, or as professors at nursing schools. They can assist in educating and graduating the next generation of students and nurses.

After earning their post master’s degree, these nurses can also work as Advanced Practice Nurses, offering primary care/acute care to patients.

Following completion of the program, a doctorate holder may establish their own clinical practice, work as a health lobbyist to ensure that evidence-based practice is implemented throughout the state or country, or work as a clinical health researcher.

Salary for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Calculating a DNP’s pay potential is challenging, as these individuals might do a variety of functions in the sector.

While a professional with a Master of Science in Nursing can work as an advanced practice nurse, a professional with a DNP can also function as an APRN. The median income for APRNs was $117,670 in 2020, while DNP-qualified professionals make significantly more.

Nurse midwives make a median annual pay of $111,130, whereas CRNAs earn a median annual salary of $165,120. Because DNPs have the greatest level of education, they should expect to earn significantly more than MSN holders in comparable positions.

While having a DNP does not guarantee a higher compensation, a clinical expert with a DNP often earns the highest wage for the profession.

What Is the Process for Becoming a Doctor of Nursing Practice?

Traditionally, a student must acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an approved nursing school before enrolling in a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. After earning an MSN, students can enroll in a DNP program and acquire a doctorate.

However, there are several ways to get a DNP:

DNP Direct-Entry

These nursing practice programs are designed for students and nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline. A direct-entry DNP program prepares students by training and certifying them as highly knowledgeable nurses.

This school of nursing program requires between four and six years of full-time education to complete.

Bridge Programs for RNs to DNPs

A RN-to-DNP program trains registered nurses to become DNPs without requiring them to retake any courses. RNs who opt to study full-time can complete the degree in three years. However, RNs who prefer to work while learning might enroll in a part-time program and complete it in six years.

The majority of these programs provide nurses with an MSN prior to beginning the DNP curriculum.

Bridge Programs from BSN to DNP

These programs combine the MSN and DNP curricula and expedite the DNP procedure. After earning their MSN, a nurse may choose to leave the school or nursing program. Completion of these programs can take up to four years of full-time study and six years of part-time study.

DNP Programs Available Online

Depending on your educational path and specialty, you may be able to do some coursework online.

Clinical specialists benefit from online DNP programs because they allow them to examine course instructions at their convenience.