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How to Take Your Nursing Career to the Next Level

If you’re looking to take your nursing career to the highest level, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can propel you into the penthouse suite. Along with the more research-based PhD in Nursing, this terminal degree qualifies you to hold the most esteemed and coveted positions in the healthcare field. Whatever you choose, you’ll be fully prepared to fill a leadership role in your workplace and chosen field of specialization.

What are your personal reasons for pursuing a DNP?

If you’re like the vast majority of professional nurses in this country, you love your career but aren’t quite as fond of your job. The AMN Healthcare 2017 RN Survey found that while 83 percent of nurses expressed satisfaction with their career choice, only 60 percent said they were happy with their jobs, according to Minority Nurse.

Pursuing a DNP helps you move up the healthcare career ladder and take control of your future by furthering your direct patient care training and enhancing your critical reasoning skills. You evolve into an even more effective, compassionate, and empowering leader and medical care provider who is highly adept at functioning in stressful situations.

Your ability to use information technology and evidence-based practice to improve healthcare outcomes makes you a highly sought-after medical professional. Nurse Journal states: “Nurses with doctoral degrees are expected to be in high demand in the coming years, so whatever type of DNP career path you choose, there’s likely to be an important role for you to fill.”

The places a DNP might take you

Employers seek out candidates with a Doctor of Nursing Practice to fill the highest-level nursing career opportunities, both in the clinical environment and in areas outside of direct patient care. “A 2015 study … revealed a near-universal consensus that the DNP is best suited to prepare advanced practice nurses and leaders outside of direct patient care to meet our nation’s future healthcare needs,” notes Nurse Journal. Additionally, DNP nursing professionals “earn about $7,688 more than those in a similar position who hold only a master’s degree.”

DNP nurses in direct care often hold advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) roles such as:

  • Nurse practitioners (NPs)
  • Certified nurse-midwives (CNMs)
  • Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs)
  • Clinical nurse specialists (CNSs)

Certified registered nurse anesthetists are in high demand and hold one of the best-paying jobs in the medical field, with a 2017 median annual salary of $169,450, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The projected job growth rate for CRNAs is 31 percent by 2026.

Likewise, job opportunities for certified nurse-midwives between now and 2026 are very promising, also projected to grow by 31 percent. The BLS quotes the 2017 median salary for CNMs at $110,930.

ACU’s Advanced Practiced Nurse DNP track prepares APRNs to meet the demands of an increasingly complex and technologically reliant healthcare field. The DNP consists of 39 credit hours and a minimum of 500 practicum clock hours. Ten core courses and three research courses move students toward the development and implementation of an evidence-based capstone project.

Filling the need for Executive Nursing Leadership with a DNP

Minority Nurse cites two additional findings from the AMN Healthcare 2017 RN Survey:

  • An overwhelming majority of RNs want to see more nurses in healthcare executive leadership positions.
  • Approximately half of RNs don’t feel supported by their leaders.

ACU’s Executive Nursing Leadership DNP track fills this need by preparing nurses to step into the highest executive-level positions in hospital and clinical systems, governmental agencies, and managed care organizations. Roles include:

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operating officer
  • Vice president, patient services
  • Chief patient experience executive
  • Director of nursing

DNP-prepared nurses have access to many other non-direct-care roles that allow them to exert a positive influence while bringing innovation to the healthcare field, including:

  • Informaticist
  • Lead clinician
  • Public health program director
  • Health policy specialist

Perhaps one of the most pressing needs currently is for DNP educators. Faculty shortages at nursing schools across the country found schools turning away 64,067 qualified applicants from baccalaureate and graduate nursing programs in 2016, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

As the need for professional registered nurses continues to grow, stepping into a role as an academic nurse leader is a powerful way to make a significant contribution to the nursing profession. reports the median annual salary for a professor of nursing was $91,654 as of 2018. Providing intellectual leadership and mentoring to students is an ideal career choice for a nurse who’s a leader in the field blessed with a passion for training the nation’s next nurses.

Would you like to learn more about earning a faith-based DNP? Abilene Christian University offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice program that lets you earn your degree as part of a vibrant, virtual, Christ-centered community with no need to relocate. Our DNP degree will transform your career and your life with a high-quality education, the best professors, and a compassionate, cutting-edge approach to the clinical side of medicine. We invite you to get in touch with us to learn more today by calling 855-219-7300 or visiting

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