We know that nurses and doctors have different roles. Is there a degree that combines the two? If you’re confused, don’t worry. In this blog, we will provide an overview of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
Specifically, we will cover:
- What Is a DNP?
- What are the roles of a DNP?
- What are the differences and similarities between a NP and a DNP?
- What are the steps to earn a DNP?
- What are the top 5 DNP programs?
- What are some options for paying for a DNP?
Let’s take a look!
What is a Doctor of Nusing Practice?
The Doctor of Nursing Practice is an advanced degree within the nursing field. It is one of two terminal—or highest— degrees a nurse can achieve. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Doctor of Nursing Practice is designed for nurses seeking an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs.
In other words, the DNP is a practicing degree. A nurse with this designation has the skills and training to utilize within the field, not particularly tailored for academia and research.
Though a DNP degree is technically on a doctorate level, nurse practitioners with DNPs do not have the same authority as a physician or other kinds of medical doctors. The Doctor of Nursing Practice designates that a nurse has reached the pinnacle of education.
Many nurses with DNP degrees end up in administrative or other leadership positions within the healthcare sector. Yet, others use their degree to pursue the various nurse practitioner roles.
The Doctor of Nursing Practice offers nurses a chance to have a competitive advantage over nurses with NPs applying for the same roles. In the future, nurse practitioners may have to receive their DNP to begin practicing.
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What are the roles of a DNP?
Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates have a variety of jobs they can pursue. The two most common settings in which they work include:
- Leadership and administration
- Advanced Practice Registered Nursing (APRN)
The question becomes whether the DNP wants to work with patients directly or indirectly.
Leadership and Administrative Roles
The Doctor of Nursing practice provides nurses with an opportunity to use their skills to help influence care programs and create nursing initiatives. Additionally, they can help bolster the executive nursing leadership roles.
Specifically, DNPs work in:
- Organizational leadership
- Nurse management
- Health policy
- Health informatics systems
Advanced Practice Nursing
DNPs who choose to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) have an opportunity to work directly with patients by managing, evaluating, and assessing treatment and care.
The DNPs who choose to become APRNs need to take the APRN certification exam. Additionally, they may have to receive an advanced specialty certification.
The DNP often works in the following capacities:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP) – health care professionals who work independently from a doctor’s supervision to prevent illnesses and teach wellness.
- CRNA or Nurse Anesthetist – clinicians who coordinate with the physicians and nurses to administer anesthesia to patients.
- Nurse Midwife (CNM) – health care professionals who provide reproductive care throughout all phases of the birthing process.
Top nurse leadership roles on Incredible Health
What are the differences and similarities between an NP and a DNP?
The main similarity between an NP and a DNP is they are both advanced positions. In other words, they both require a graduate degree.
Additionally, these two positions share a lot of the same job opportunities. Nurses who receive graduate degrees can become many different types of advanced practice registered nurses. Some of these include:
Below is an overview of the differences between the nurse practitioner and DNP roles.
|Overview||The DNP is an advanced nursing degree. With this degree, nurses can pursue many different kinds of nursing specialties.||A nurse practitioner role is an advanced practice role that requires a master's degree to practice.|
|Role or Degree||Degree||Role|
|Curriculum||Nursing leadership, health informatics, evidence-based practice techniques||Clinical practice, healthcare policy, direct patient care|
|Clinical Hours||1,000 hours minimum||500 hours minimum|
|Career Outlook||Nursing leaderships roles such as chief nursing officer, director of patient care services||Primary healthcare provider|
What are the steps to earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
You might be wondering: how do you earn a DNP? There are many ways to receive a DNP. Often, people take the graduated approach and get their BSN to MSN and then a DNP. However, there are bridge programs to help you achieve your doctorate and save time.
Below you will find the typical routes to obtain a DNP:
MSN to DNP
This MSN to DNP bridge program is the most common method. Given that the nurse will already have an MSN, they most likely will work in an advanced position. Therefore, they may not have the capacity to go to school full-time.
- 1-2 years full time
- 3-4 years part-time
- Revolves around specialized coursework
- Clinical hours from the MSN program may apply toward the clinical hour requirements
BSN to DNP
The BSN to DNP bridge program brings together the curriculum of an MSN and DNP. A few programs allow you to leave the program once you’ve completed the MSN requirements.
- 3-4 years full time
- 4-6 years part-time
- Includes MSN and DNP curriculum to avoid repeating
- Often consists of an early exit before the DNP portion
RN to DNP
The RN to DNP bridge program is less common. However, it allows someone without a bachelor’s degree to pursue a DNP.
- 4-6 years full time
- 6+ years part-time
- Some programs require prerequisites to take undergraduate coursework before taking graduate courses
- Potential to earn an MSN degree before taking DNP courses or provide the option to award an MSN and DNP after graduation
This Direct Entry DNP program is a good option for students who have a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of nursing.
- 4-6 years full time
- Part-time generally not available
- Students have to become registered nurses before taking graduate coursework
Choosing the right program depends on your circumstances and the time you devote to a given program.
What are the top 5 DNP programs?
According to US News, the top five universities are:
1. Rush University – A private school in Chicago, IL that has an application deadline of Jan.2 and an application fee of $115 for US residents.
2. Johns Hopkins University – A private school in Baltimore, MD, with an application deadline of Jan. 1 and an application fee of $75 for US residents.
3. The University of Washington – A public school in Seattle, WA that has an application deadline of Jan.15 and an application fee of $85 for US residents
4. Duke University – A private school in Durham, NC, with an application deadline of Dec.1 and an application fee of $50 for US residents.
5. Columbia University – A private school in New York, NY, with an application deadline of Jan.20 and an application fee of $75 for US residents.
What are some options for paying for a DNP?
After determining which program you wish to attend, the next step involves paying for school. First, take an inventory of your financial situation and see if you might qualify for government funding. To find out if you are eligible, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
If you’re worried about taking loans out, some programs offer student loan forgiveness following graduation.
Overall, the DNP program is an excellent opportunity for nurses to enhance their skills and move up within the nursing ranks and advance their careers. If you just graduated from a DNP program, you can find advanced nursing positions here on our website. Simply click below and start searching for your next job!
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