A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced degree that prepares you to play a leadership role in clinical settings. If you are currently working as a nurse, or plan on entering the field once you earn your undergraduate degree, it is important to think a step ahead so that you know where you intend on going as you gain professional experience. There are several different pathways that you can choose and too many specialties to mention by name. Each pathway requires a different level of education, various certifications, and even a certain amount of hands-on experience. If you have always wanted to earn a doctoral degree, read on and find out what you can do with your DNP degree.
What Does the Doctoral Nursing Degree Program Teach You?
The DNP degree is a terminal degree and programs in this area will teach you advanced curriculum that cover organizational leadership, advanced practice nursing and nursing systems. Some of the courses that you will take, no matter which accredited program you attend, include: pharmacology, pathophysiology, advanced physiology, physical assessments and more. Depending on the specialty that you choose, you could take courses in health care policy leadership, nursing informatics, analytical methods, and research. What separates a Master’s level program from a doctoral program is that in a doctoral program you will take courses based on research and theory, as well as be required to write a dissertation.
What Types of Jobs Can You Hold With a DNP?
DNP graduates can play a number of different roles in the healthcare system. When you have a doctoral degree, you show that you are ready for nursing leadership in highly competitive areas of the globe. Depending on the specialty that you choose, you can work as a leader in information systems, clinical settings, the classroom, or as an advocate for public health care policy. In some states, if your goal is to become an Advanced Practice Nurse, you can sit for the APN exam and earn your licensure by passing the exam after you graduate from a DNP program. In other states you may only need to earn a MSN and get professional experience before you can sit for the exam.
How to Choose the Best Doctoral Program in Nursing?
If you have decided that you want to set your sights high and you would like to earn a DNP degree, the next step is learning about prerequisites. You will need no less than a Master’s of Science in Nursing before any program will consider you. After you earn this, you can begin to compare accredited programs that meet the standards set by the American Association of Colleges of Nurses. By being AACN accredited, you will have peace of mind in knowing that you are getting the quality education that you are paying for.
Choosing to earn any type of terminal degree requires a major commitment. If you plan on doing what it takes to say that you have your doctorate, you will need to balance your time between your family, your profession and your schooling. If you are ready to take the plunge and make the commitment, it is time to start comparing programs that meet curriculum standards so that you can apply and start to earn your Doctor of Nursing.