In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IoM) set a target to double the number of working nurses with a doctorate by the year 2020. Although they managed to reach this target, that still means only 1% of nurses currently have a doctorate degree in nursing, according to the Campaign for Action.
Why so few doctorates in nursing, and why is it important that the healthcare field have more of them? One possible reason for the lack of DNP degrees may be that it’s considered difficult, even more so than a PhD. But is that really the truth? We’ll delve into that, and the many reasons why getting a DNP might be a great career move.
Here are a few of the benefits of getting a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree:
Gain Enhanced Nursing Skills
The world of healthcare is growing more sophisticated and complex every day. With a DNP, you can more easily navigate this ever-shifting landscape, gaining in-depth clinical knowledge and practice. This will pave the way toward taking on a leadership role, as well as providing more effective and specialized patient care. Pursuing a DNP means preparing yourself for a career centered on teaching, influencing healthcare policy, administration, and other high-level means of making healthcare better for everyone.
Meet the Growing Demand for Nurses with a DNP
As the population ages and a higher percentage of people need medical care, there is an ever-decreasing demand for qualified leaders in the field. A DNP will give you the research, teaching, and leadership tools you need to meet those demands and fill a vital role in the healthcare world.
A graduate with a DNP might go into teaching, advising on policy, and yes, even careers in research. They might also take a lucrative job directing large health care institutions.
Be Equipped to Adapt to Changes in Healthcare
As anyone working in healthcare can tell you, the field is advancing faster than ever in terms of technology and science. There’s also the increasing demand for qualified nurses and leaders who can shape policy, legislation, and innovation to create solutions for these new and formidable challenges.
Earn a Higher Salary
A DNP can put you on track for any number of high-paying careers. Just some of the career options for a nurse with a doctorate in nursing practice include:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist ($192,000)
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner ($110,000)
- Certified Nurse Midwife ($114,000)
- Pediatric Endocrinology Nurse ($94,000)
- Pain Management Nurse ($129,000)
- Public Health Office Administrator ($118,000)
There are some other reasons why a DNP might be a smart career choice:
- Salaries for positions like the above are likely to keep rising for the foreseeable future.
- A doctorate may soon be the entry-level requirement for certification and licensure in advanced nursing.
- DNP holders are desperately needed to help address the shortage of nursing staff across the healthcare industry. Guiding policy and continuing innovation can help make up for some of these shortfalls.
Getting a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree: Not as Hard as You Think?
Medical degrees can be notoriously taxing and time-consuming to obtain. Some nurses may feel they don’t have the time to complete a doctorate degree — but there are ways to get around that. A doctor of nursing program, such as the one with Maryville University, could be completed in only 20-36 months.
To obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, you’ll need the following:
- An undergraduate or master’s degree in nursing
- A minimum GPA requirement, documented by official transcripts
- An active and unencumbered RN license
- Some significant practical nursing experience
DNP vs PhD
So exactly what is the difference between a DNP and a PhD, and why would you choose one over the other?
The most basic answer is: A PhD concentrates more on pure research, while a DNP focuses more on the practice of nursing. Both represent the highest level of education in nursing you can attain, and neither of them is “better” than the other — merely that choosing a PhD will aim you toward a more academic, research-centric career, whereas a DNP concentrates on leadership and practical improvements in the healthcare system.
Although there are some myths surrounding this fact, the DNP is not a “watered-down” or “lite” version of a PhD. It’s simply a difference in career focus — research or practice. Both are equally valid, and, more importantly, both are consistently in high demand.
In short, a DNP is a great degree to pursue if you care about leadership, advocacy, and quality improvement that’s backed up with research and hard data. With the demand for highly educated nursing professionals showing no sign of slowing its growth, it could be a powerful choice that could take you to a whole new level of your career.