Nurses have a number of degree programs available to them that will open up doors and qualify them for new positions. Choosing the right program is a critical step in landing their dream job. Interested nurses should carefully consider the benefits of available programs so they can choose the one that will work best for them.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can be a fantastic way for nurses to advance their careers in clinical practice. Pursuing such a degree online can allow those in the profession to schedule their classes around their shifts so they do not have to stop working.
A DNP is a terminal degree. This means it is the highest level of education available in this track of nursing. DNP programs admit students who have already earned a master’s degree. DNP programs can focus on clinical practice, executive leadership, research or other aspects of the field. For many, this degree offers a full range of benefits that make the DNP the perfect degree. At ACU Online, we’ve gathered some of those benefits together for you to review:
What makes a DNP different?
A DNP emphasizes areas of nursing leadership. It helps nurses develop their skills in making decisions based on data, which improves their clinical practice. While studying for the degree, students will focus on practice-based training. The degree emphasizes how nurses can take the skills they learn in the classroom and apply them to the clinical setting. For nurses who love working with patients or even educating new nurses, this degree is a great fit.
The best programs offer enough electives or concentrations to let nursing students personalize their education to their career goals. At ACU Online, we offer two distinct tracks — Executive Nursing Leadership or Advanced Practice Nurse — to encourage students to take the next step on their career development journey.
The job opportunities available to those with a DNP degree
The DNP opens doors for nurses who want to enter a variety of different roles. These professionals can work as a registered nurse or a nurse practitioner. They will also be qualified to work as a nursing educator. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of nursing will see an expected growth rate of 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, a much faster growth rate than other professions. This means that professionals who can help train and educate these new nurses will be in high demand.
Many DNP nurses may also elect to focus on a particular nursing specialty. For example, some may earn a DNP with the intention of being a nurse anesthetist, a psychiatric nurse, or a flight nurse. The advanced clinical training received while pursuing a DNP degree can help professionals enter these types of jobs.
Since DNP nurses have a high level of education and can work as nurse practitioners, they can also put their skills to work helping those who have limited access to healthcare, including people in rural areas. Nurse practitioners in these areas can help to provide primary care for patients who might not have otherwise been able to get the care they need.
Other benefits that come with a DNP degree
In addition to the job prospects open to DNP holders, the degree will also offer nurses additional training in their professional lives.
Medical knowledge and best practices continue to evolve as medical practitioners and scientists learn more about patient care, disease, and overall health. With the additional training in clinical practice, these nurses will be prepared to make data-based decisions for the benefit of those under their care. Nurse education can also directly impact the health of patients.
Nurses with a DNP can often help take on larger roles within medical facilities. They can help serve as liaisons between different members of the medical staff, helping to coordinate care for patients. This type of coordination and cooperation further helps to improve patient care.
The Future of Nursing Report, by the Institute of Nursing and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, states that nurses will soon need to take on more responsibilities within jobs. A DNP degree will help nurses obtain this important training and experience to cover these responsibilities.
A nursing shortage is expected, particularly as baby boomers begin to age. This shortage will further intensify the need for nurses who can perform tasks well, take on additional responsibilities and take steps to ensure that all patients have adequate care. With the DNP degree, nurses will prepare themselves with improved communication, education in the latest trends, and training in clinical practice.
Nurses who decide to pursue a DNP degree can improve their clinical practice, prepare themselves for a wide range of careers, and improve their ability to serve their patients. If you want to learn more about pursuing this degree online, you can visit ACU Online by going to acu.edu/online or you can contact us at 855.219.7300.