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A Day in the Life of a DNP

Do you currently hold a master’s in Nursing from an accredited program?, If so, have you considered enrolling in a DNP program to advance yourself both professionally and personally?

Abilene Christian University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice program that will allow you to complete your requirements online and move into the highest echelons of nursing, all while maintaining your current nursing position. Many schools with DNP programs do not offer an online program , yet it  is ideal for nurses who are actively working in the medical field. Furthermore, ACU’s DNP program offers two concentrations, including Advanced Practice Nurse and Executive Nursing Leadership.

In addition to the flexibility ACU’s online DNP program offers,  you will have access to knowledgeable professionals in the field, plus our respected and rigorous  curriculum is well respected within the industry.

If you are considering DNP programs, you likely are familiar with some of the duties a DNP is expected to perform. However, you likely have not been able to spend time on the front lines with a DNP professional. . Here is a brief glimpse into what a day may be like for a DNP program graduate.

  • 5:30 A.M. Workout and coffee
  • 6:15 A.M. Get showered and ready for work
  • 7:00 A.M. Arrive at the hospital to begin 12-hour shift; immediately begin seeing a variety of patients and providing direct treatment for their needs; collaborate with other medical professionals; direct nurses and other support staff members; brainstorm with doctors in the hallway when necessary; briefly research strange symptoms presenting in a pediatric patient to aid in diagnosis; counsel a patient that has just received a devastating diagnosis; chart, chart, chart; write prescriptions for patients when needed; suture a nasty cut
  • 2:00 P.M. Lunchtime! Glance over charts of afternoon patients while eating.
  • 2:45 P.M. Begin seeing afternoon patients.
  • 4:00 P.M. Get pulled to serve as backup instructor for new RN training on how to deescalate tense situations that may arise with patients and families in clinical situations; mentor one new RN who is struggling with adapting to fast pace of her floor.
  • 5:15 P.M. Resume seeing patients; escort one emergent patient to emergency room for urgent care situation; debrief with ER staff on patient’s medical issue and history; test patient for tuberculosis and initiate infectious disease control procedures in light of patient’s concerning symptoms; call psychiatric services to assist with manic patient.
  • 7:30 P.M. Finish seeing patients and charting.
  • 8:00 P.M. Get home and start cooking dinner; review assignment for volunteer clinical service project in low-income neighborhood schedule for day off; decompress with family.
  • 10:30 P.M. Do a short nighttime yoga routine and settle into sleep.

This is just one example of a day in the life of a DNP, but it’s apparent that a DNP performs the role of a both doctor and a nurse. While it may be argued this is a slight overstatement, most DNPs would disagree. In addition to assessing the patient and providing direct clinical care as a nurse typically does, the DNP will also engage in diagnostics and treatment planning as would a doctor. The DNP is able to fulfill specific aspects of both roles, and with the assistance of other medical staff, provide comprehensive treatment to patients. From doing the patient intake, to communicating with the patient’s family, to writing the prescriptions, to developing a follow-up schedule, and sending the patient home to get better, a DNP is able to handle it all.  In sum, there is no typical or routine day for a DNP, but instead a DNP can expect an exciting and dynamic career that offers consistent personal growth.

Nurse practitioners often say that one of the aspects of their careers that they enjoy the most is the variety of patients they see and the variety each day brings. Schools with DNP programs have an understanding of this trait, and ACU’s program ensures that through clinical practice and various projects, students enrolled in the DNP program will enjoy their learning and will graduate ready to take on their new career. Being a nurse practitioner is a career with constant learning and education about new conditions, new medications, and new treatments. The joy of helping others recover or enjoy a better quality of life is an important part of their career.

Many schools offer DNP programs that focus solely on clinical nursing practice,  while ACU’s program offers two concentrations, including an Executive Nursing Leadership track for those interested in a less clinically focused role. Students graduating from this DNP program often find themselves in positions where they are mentoring and training young nurses. In addition to acting as essential trainers for hospitals and other medical facilities, these DNP graduates also take on leadership positions within a medical facility, such as a positions as unit directors or nursing department managers. Schools with DNP programs only occasionally offer courses in leadership, however, ACU’s program offers several required courses focused on leadership including Theories and Practices of Effective Leadership, Leadership in Diverse Contexts, and Human Resource Development.

These courses include training in quality and safety protocols, assessing and planning for medical equipment and staffing needs, budgeting, legal and regulatory compliance, and even conflict resolution. Because of the instruction ACU offers in these essential skills, graduates of ACU’s Executive Nursing Leadership program have an edge on graduates of other schools with DNP programs because they are prepared to act as effective leaders.

Finally, ACU’s DNP program director and faculty are active within the industry, providing students with instruction that effectively prepares them for career advancement.  Consider enrolling in a DNP program and don’t hesitate to contact ACU to learn if our program is a perfect fit for you and your career goals.