The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced degree that prepares nurses for leadership roles in nursing practice, business, administration, clinical research, and academia. The DNP degree is built on the clinical aspects of nursing rather than academic research. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that the DNP degree has unique advantages that include the development of needed advanced skills for increasingly complex clinical, faculty and leadership roles, enhanced knowledge to improve nursing delivery, stronger leadership, and clinical excellence. It has been recommended by the AACN that the DNP will become the pre-requisite to becoming a nurse practitioner.
Overview of a Doctor of Nursing Practice Program
- Students learn to use their education and experience in leadership roles that are essential to the delivery of high quality healthcare in hospitals and clinics.
- Students prepare for careers as advanced practice nurses in such roles as nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, and clinical nurse specialist.
- Curriculum explores leadership, clinical research application, and advanced nursing practice.
- DNP programs teach students how to decipher published medical information to inform their practice, develop systems of care to influence patient outcomes, and make changes to improve the quality of care.
- DNPs advanced clinical practices provide expertise clinical skill and knowledge for registered nurses becoming clinical leaders and advanced practice nurses.
Steps to Become a Doctor of Nursing Practice
- Earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing.
- Receive a Registered Nurse Certification.
- Enroll and complete a Doctor of Nursing Practice program from an accredited school like Capella University, Georgetown University, Kaplan University, South University, or University of Cincinnati.
- Obtain DNP certification and proper licensure, which varies by state.
The job setting will vary depending on what specific job you get. Possible options include private practices, outpatient care centers, nursing homes, hospitals (intensive care unit), neonatal unit, internal medicine clinics, ambulatory care, family practice offices. While it is not often a prerequisite to find a job, membership with a regional or specialty nursing organization can increase your employability. The online community Doctors of Nursing Practice is a great resource for these associations, scholarship and grant information, and other general DNP resources.
The average salary of a DNP varies by location, experience, and the type of employer you have. For more information on your earning potential, please refer to our nursing job outlook page.