What Can a DNP Do?

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In the report Advancing the Nation’s Health Needs, the National Research Council stated that the nursing industry should develop a non-research doctoral degree (like the DNP), meaning that the Council saw a need for the change. The Council stated in its report that the degree progression as it existed for nursing professions at the time was slowing down the process of training new scientists for the nursing field and suggested that it would better to have a separate educational path for nurse practitioners instead of requiring candidates for a Ph.D. in nursing to first become practicing nurses at the master’s level.

What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice?

Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees are becoming increasingly popular among nurses due to the fact that they offer a wide range of advantages. These degrees provide nurses with the opportunity to gain advanced knowledge and skills in their field, allowing them to become more specialized and better equipped to handle complex medical cases. Furthermore, these degrees also provide nurses with the potential to pursue leadership roles in healthcare organizations. With a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, nurses can take on roles such as nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse educators. As such, it is no surprise that doctorate-level nursing programs are becoming more popular among nurses who want to advance their careers and make a difference in their profession.

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Within the DNP program, the college is likely to offer a specialization in the field. Possible specialties include health policy, executive leadership, public health and advocacy, and medical technology. Program specialties may also be focuses on a certain population such as pediatric care, women’s health, or gerontology. DNP programs are usually offered both on-campus and online. Accelerated options are available too including BSN to DNP programs that allow the student to earn credits for both a master’s degree and doctorate degree.    

A DNP degree is very different from a PhD in nursing. DNP degrees are more clinical-based while a PhD in nursing will often focus on medical research. The DNP is a degree for those who plan to work in the field, not usually those who wish to become teachers. A curriculum for a DNP program will primarily focus on topics such as patient outcomes, population health, nurse management, advanced nursing practices, and healthcare advocacy.

A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is a terminal degree that prepares nurses for advanced nursing practice roles, while a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is an academic degree that prepares nurses for advanced roles in nursing leadership, education, and research. While both degrees provide students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills in the field of nursing, they have distinct differences. The DNP focuses on clinical practice and provides students with the necessary skills to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). The MSN focuses on developing leadership skills and offers courses such as health policy, healthcare systems management, and health informatics.

What Can You Do with a DNP in Nursing?

Since DNP isn’t a job title, many students wonder what does a DNP do after graduation. Common positions held by DNP graduates (many of which were formerly MSN specializations) include:

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Certified nurse midwife
  • Registered nurse anesthetists
  • Advanced practice registered nurses

Nurse practitioners specialize in areas just like clinical nurses, such as gerontology, pediatrics, or psychiatric nursing. With a DNP degree, the graduate could also choose to pursue alternative career paths, like physical therapists or nursing education. In this case, the graduate would secure a job as a healthcare lobbyist or clinical researcher. These jobs involve working outside of a medical setting like a hospital.

Is a DNP a Doctor?

A common question that many individuals ask “Is a DNP a doctor?” As a graduate of a doctorate level program, there is the belief that earning a DNP allows the person to carry the title of doctor. In some cases, a DNP graduate may use the title of doctor before his or her name. However, some states do have legislation regarding when and where a DNP can use the title as doctor. The reason for the law is to prevent confusion in patients who may believe a nurse practitioner is a medical doctor. As long as the DNP graduate explains to the patient his or her correct job title, using the title doctor is acceptable. A DNP won’t qualify an individual for a medical doctor position, but he or she will be able to perform many of the same duties as a doctor. For example, nurse midwives can do anything OBGYNs can do, often including prescribing medicine. Nursing professionals with a DNP, like a family nurse practitioner or advanced practice nurses, are as trustworthy as doctors.

What Does a DNP Do?

With a DNP degree, the nurse can provide medical care to patients. For a DNP degree holder that decides to become a nurse practitioner, he or she will be able to diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, order imaging tests and bloodwork, and provide education to patients about their healthcare. The role of the nurse practitioner is to provide high quality care at a reduced cost to patients. According to the AANP, research studies have shown a patient who uses a nurse practitioner as a primary care provider will have fewer hospital visits and less prescription costs. DNPs may work in inpatient or outpatient care centers.

The specialization of the DNP graduate will also determine duties post-graduation. A certified nurse midwife will be involved in prenatal care of a patient along with labor and delivery. Registered nurse anesthetists work in hospitals to provide anesthesia to patients and monitor their vitals while under.

With a DNP degree, the graduate could also head into research and help lead medical studies to resolve health issues facing patients today. With a DNP, the nurse could also work for a community health office and provide research to help lawmakers make informed public health decisions.

DNPs can also work in administration as health services managers. They can work to improve patient outcomes for adult patients and their families from behind the scences.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a DNP nurse can make bank. A certified registered nurse anesthetist can make as much as $200,000 a year, while family nurse practitioners make as much as $110,000 (median annual salary).

What About Online DNP Degrees?

As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, nurses must stay up to date on the latest practices and trends. An online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree can help nurses acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in their profession. With an online DNP degree, nurses can learn how to apply evidence-based practice, understand healthcare policy, and lead interprofessional teams. This type of degree is ideal for those who want to advance their careers in nursing or take on a leadership role within the industry. With an online DNP degree, nurses can gain the expertise needed to make a positive impact on patient care and outcomes.

An online Doctor of Nursing Practice program can provide nurses with the opportunity to further their education and advance their career. With an online DNP degree, nurses can gain the knowledge and expertise they need to become leaders in their field. Additionally, an online DNP degree opens up a range of job opportunities for nurses, including roles in clinical practice, research, healthcare administration, and education. With an online DNP degree, nurses can increase their earning potential and be better equipped to provide quality care for patients.

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Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

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