For some graduate students, the idea of staying in the professional world and putting their advanced learning to use in a practical setting is just too appealing.
Fortunately for those who subscribe to this line of thought, having a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree on your resume ensures that you have all the tools you need to achieve this goal. If this sounds like the logical next step within your medical career, you’ll want to take a moment and look over this in-depth review of everything that goes into obtaining a DNP.
What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program?
A DNP serves as the gateway between the theoretical world of academic research and the application of evidence-based medical service in the real world. Earning this degree allows nurses to provide cutting edge care to groups of patients, populations, and even entire communities in certain situations.
List of Online DNP Programs
Usually, an average cohort of DNP applicants consists of veteran or seasoned practicing nurses that want to combine the latest academic findings with the daily services and requirements of the clinical environment.
Difference between DNP and PhD in Nursing
The difference between a DNP and a Doctor of Nursing (PhD) degree rests solely on your aspirations after you walk across the graduation stage on your big day. DNP recipients work in the field as practicing medical professionals, while the PhD members of the community remain in academia to teach others and participate in research programs.
With a DNP under your belt, you can expect to earn between $73,469 and $100,000 per year– according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) – working as an advanced practice registered nurse, family nurse practitioner, or via a variety of other hands-on clinical positions. On the other side of the equation, the BLS notes that PhD students who become professors generally earn about $88,000 in annual compensation.
How Do You Get a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
To receive a DNP, you’ll need to commit to either the traditional learning experience on-campus or work on your research from home as an online student.
While there is no right answer regarding the “best” learning option, heading down the online learning path does tend to line up better with the unique needs and demands of currently employed professionals. After all, it’s hard to commit to multiple days on campus if you’re a practicing nurse who spends 40 to 60 hours a week on-site at a hospital or clinic.
Online DNP Program Curriculum
When it comes to the actual coursework of the DNP program, there are a wide array of topics and subject matter to cover during your time in the classroom. Some examples of this practically oriented coursework include:
- Quantitative Methods
- Data Driven Health Care Improvements
- Evidence Based Practice
- Transformation of Health Care Systems
- Effective Leadership
- Transforming the Nation’s Health
Unlike a PhD in Nursing, an online DNP does not always require a dissertation.
This selection should serve as a fairly accurate barometer of what to expect from your DNP classes. However, it is important to keep in mind that your target institution can deviate from this list considerably based on the decisions of the program administrators and presiding faculty.
DNP Online Program Concentrations
If you’re interested in going beyond the basics of the DNP experience, most schools provide concentrations that allow for specialization in the learning experience.
Some of the most popular DNP concentrations include:
- Nurse Executive Leadership
- Psychiatric Mental Health
- Family Nurse Practitioner
Much like your expected curriculum from the previous section, concentrations can – and will – vary from institution to institution. With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to look into the concentrations offered before applying for admission to a program.
Speaking of seeking admission, there are a variety of requirements laid before potential members of an incoming DNP cohort that you need to be aware of before the application deadline arrives.
While some programs require a master’s degree in a relevant field, plenty of others will accept individuals who excelled at the undergraduate level. The big key here is having an undergraduate GPA that sits at – or near – the 4.0 mark.
Additionally, providing letters of reference, as well as a personal statement detailing your academic goals and aspirations, also factor in the admissions process. In some cases, you might also be required to conduct an in-person interview with the professors and administrators who conduct the DNP program.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Career Outlook and Salary
As far as your prospects go once you’re done with school, the BLS reports that this field is experiencing significantly faster than average growth when compared to most other industries and markets.
In total, job opportunities projected to rise by 31 percent in the coming years for DNP degree recipients. This means that not only is there plenty of money to be made as an outpatient care provider, public health administrator, or other DNP specialist, but that a plethora of quality jobs are also available for those who graduate with this doctoral-level degree.
Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice worth it?
If you’re like most of the people scouring the web for information about this kind of doctoral program, it should come as no surprise that determining the value of a DNP goes well beyond your earning potential. The reality of the situation is that there are a wide variety of concerns and considerations that deserve a spot in the discussion as you plan out your collegiate future.
Is this degree an opportunity to push your academic abilities to the limit? Perhaps your current employer wants you to complete this program as part of an employee enrichment process. Incorporating these influences, as well as your career goals and outlook, into the decision-making process is the best way to ensure that you make the right choice when the time comes to sign up for classes.