Completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a big undertaking, and you must be aware of the volume of work that will be involved. Not only do they require intensive training and assessments that are designed to prepare nurses for high-level healthcare positions, but most degree programs take around 3-4 years, and you will need to put in significant personal and financial investment. With that in mind, you must research these programs and determine that pursuing an advanced degree is the right option for you.
Gaining a DNP qualification is hard work, but the qualification can improve your nursing career and bring about several benefits. After all, they are designed to advance your skills and prepare you for senior nursing roles. Once you have a DNP, you will typically enjoy better pay, wider career opportunities, and higher job satisfaction. If you’re considering earning a higher nursing qualification, then here are ten reasons to study this type of degree:
1. Improve your career outlook
One of the top reasons why nurses choose to enroll in DNP programs is to improve their future career outlook. Pursuing a program like this is expensive, but it can be a rewarding and profitable investment. In many cases, the cost of a DNP is recoverable as you will qualify for higher-level positions and increase your earning potential. Skilled nurses are in high demand, particularly those with advanced qualifications. A DNP degree is the highest clinical qualification that a nurse can achieve. This means that DNP nurses often secure the top positions and have the expert skills and knowledge to tackle complex healthcare issues. Earning a DNP qualification is a reliable way to develop your skills, unlock higher-level job opportunities, and boost your future job prospects. According to faststaff.com, “continuing education can help nurses advance in their careers and remain current with all the best practices and latest research in the nursing field.”
2. Increase your salary
Another benefit is that the qualification can have a significant impact on your salary. DNP nurses typically have higher salaries than nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). Recent statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BSL) show that DNP nurses earn an average salary of $135,830. The career path that you choose to take with DNP programs will influence your earning potential. Some of the highest-paying DNP positions are chief nursing officers and nurse researchers. Other factors will also affect your earning potential as a DNP nurse. This includes your location, your level of experience, your specialty, and where you choose to work. It is worth knowing that demand for DNP nurses is expected to grow, which means that the average DNP salary is likely to increase over the years. A high base salary means that DNP nurses feel compensated for their work and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.
3. Unlock high-level positions
As mentioned, DNP nurses have advanced skills and expertise, which unlocks higher-level nursing positions. Some senior and leadership positions require nurses to complete DNP programs. Even roles that don’t require you to take DNP programs tend to give preference to nurses with a DNP. Many academic nursing roles – e.g., nurse educator or mentor – will only consider applicants who have been awarded a DNP or are enrolled in DNP programs. Pursuing an advanced degree can open up rewarding career opportunities within the education and research fields. If you are hoping to move up the career ladder in the nursing field, then completing one of the DNP programs could be the best option for you.
4. Support fellow nurses
When you complete a DNP, you learn a lot more than just the technical side of nursing. You will also gain strong leadership skills that are essential in managerial roles. Many DNP nurses progress into senior positions and manage a healthcare ward or a team of nurses. You will have the opportunity to support and inspire fellow nurses and have a direct impact on the quality of patient care. DNP programs can also provide you with the skills and expertise needed to become an effective mentor. A mentorship will allow you to guide other nursing professionals and improve your job performance. Leadership nursing roles can be extremely rewarding, and you will play a key role in shaping the next generation of nurses.
5. Boost your job satisfaction
DNP nurses not only benefits from wider job opportunities and better pay. They also tend to report higher job satisfaction and gain a sense of personal achievement from being awarded DNP status. Nursing is considered a rewarding profession as nurses play a vital role in the healthcare system and have the opportunity to save lives and help people in a significant way. A recent survey found that 95% of nurses are happy that they become a nurse. Developing your skills and advancing in your career is a reliable way to boost your morale and satisfaction in the workplace. Nurses who pursue DNP programs have the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities and make a bigger impact through their work.
You are likely to spend a significant proportion of your life working, so you must get fulfillment from your job role. Feeling unsatisfied at work can harm your health and reduce your happiness and quality of life. Pursuing a meaningful career like nursing can give you a greater sense of purpose and boost your job satisfaction and overall wellbeing.
6. Become a traveling nurse
Skilled nurses are in high demand across the globe, particularly nurses who pursue advanced qualifications like DNP programs. For that reason, nurses who complete DNP programs can typically choose to work in the location of their choice. Becoming a traveling nurse can offer an adventurous career path that will allow you to travel and experience exciting new countries and cultures. DNP programs will prepare you for the challenges of working as a traveling nurse and increase your job prospects and earning potential.
7. Open a private nursing practice
Many nurses enroll in DNP programs with the ambition of opening a private nursing practice. Many states now allow DNP nurses to run practices independently without supervision from a physician. Managing a practice will give you complete flexibility over your workload and schedule. You will take on greater responsibility and have the chance to boost your salary and help your local community by offering exceptional healthcare services. Opening a nursing practice can be extremely rewarding and lucrative, but it can also be challenging. You will need to have the skills and experience to manage the business side of running a nursing practice e.g., bookkeeping, marketing, and so on. Take a look at this article by Minority Nurse for some key things to consider before opening a private nursing practice.
8. Specialize in your passion
DNP programs allow nurses to specialize in the area that they feel most passionate about, and this starts the moment you enroll in a DNP, as you will have the opportunity to study something that you love. You can become an expert in almost any nursing topic that you feel passionate about. Specialist nurses are highly regarded and usually enjoy job perks such as flexible work hours and higher pay. Here are some popular DNP specialities to consdier:
- Family Nurse Practioner (FNP) – A FNP is an advanced registered nurse who is trained to work with both adults and children. They provide a wide range of family-focused services and act as a primary care provider in a variety of healthcare settings. This includes doctor’s surgeries and family practices.
- Pediatric Nurse Practioner (PNP) – A PNP is trained to provide specialist healthcare services to newborns, toddlers, and any children under the age of 21. They focus on the prevention and management of common pediatric diseases and illnesses such as skin infections, common colds, and conjunctivitis.
- Clinical Nurse Midwife (CNM) – A CNM is a licensed nursing professional who specializes in women’s reproductive health and childbirth. They also play an important role in improving women’s health and wellbeing by offering specialist health care services and support.
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – A CRNA is responsible for administering anesthesia and other medications before, during, and after surgery. CRNA’s have a fantastic job outlook, and the BLS estimates that job opportunities in the field will grow by 45% from 2019-2029. This is much higher than the average seen across all other occupations.
9. Fit study around your schedule
A busy schedule and family responsibilities can discourage nurses from pursuing an advanced degree like a DNP. Fortunately, there is now an impressive variety of online DNP programs that offer distance learning and flexible study options. Online DNP programs allow you to study at your pace and fit learning around your current routines and commitments. Distance learning is ideal if you are already employed as a nurse or have personal commitments preventing you from enrolling in a campus-based program. You can continue to work and earn your DNP in your free time e.g., during the evening or weekends. You will also have the freedom to study from anywhere with a stable internet connection. Another benefit of choosing an online course is that it will typically work out much cheaper than attending a traditional campus-based course. Online DNP programs typically have lower tuition fees, and there will be no or minimal accommodation and commuting costs involved.
Studying for a DNP certification online offers plenty of advantages but also has some potential drawbacks. One of the biggest challenges of studying online is that your course will have less structure and direction. You will have complete autonomy over your study schedule, and you must be organized, self-disciplined, and committed to your learning. Here are some tips for distance learning success if you’re considering online DNP programs:
- Read through your course syllabus carefully and use it as a roadmap to plan your learning. Stick with a fixed study schedule and give yourself plenty of time to complete coursework and prepare for assessments.
- Take regular study breaks to relax and unwind. Avoid cramming information or trying to complete lots of learning tasks in one study session.
- Engage with your peers and teachers online, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something. Use online learning boards like Blackboard.
- Try a variety of learning styles to find what works best for you and your preferences.
- Make a note of important course milestones and plan your time well to ensure that deadlines are met. Don’t let yourself fall behind with your learning activities.
- Create a productive learning environment that is free from potential distractions.
- Get involved with online group discussions and support your classmates.
10. Update your nursing skills
The healthcare industry is constantly evolving thanks to advanced medical tools and technology. Effective nurses must remain up to date with the latest trends in healthcare and best practices when it comes to patient care. DNP programs are designed to keep your skills and knowledge up to date, particularly when it comes to disease prevention and advanced technologies. A DNP degree will help you stay current and improve your clinical practice, especially if you have been out of school for several years. You will also be taught valuable leadership and research skills that you may not have acquired on your nursing degree or clinical placements. DNP programs are the gold standard of education in the nursing field. Pursing a DNP degree will advance your skills and prepare you for high-level nursing positions.
DNP courses involve intensive education and several years of study. Earning a DNP is not easy. The qualification is designed to produce expert nurses with the skills and expertise to take on leadership roles. If you are interested in becoming a DNP, then you must research DNP programs thoroughly and have a clear understanding of the level of work involved. You must be committed and prepared to make sacrifices to complete this advanced qualification. Nurses who earn a DNP are awarded wider career opportunities, better salaries, and plenty more benefits. DNP programs can open up many exciting job opportunities, and any ambitious nurse should consider working towards a DNP.