Earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) prepares advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) for sophisticated roles in preventive care. But a master’s isn’t the highest degree in nursing. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepares nurses to be leaders, educators and agents of change in health care.
The DNP is one of the highest degrees in nursing, also known as a terminal nursing degree, alongside the PhD in Nursing. The areas of study in a Doctor of Nursing Practice program include:
- Conducting in-depth research on patient care
- Uncovering new and emerging trends in healthcare
- Transforming research into new treatments
- Understanding the business and management sides of the healthcare industry
Another major part of a DNP program is educating students on how to take on leadership roles in nursing. DNP graduates teach the next generation of nurses on the latest developments in care and how to create better patient outcomes, often in university settings.
The job opportunities available to DNP graduates are pivotal roles in the healthcare field. Although the DNP degree is not necessarily required for the following positions, doctorate-prepared nurses may be the ideal candidates. Some of the high-level jobs in nursing one can pursue with a DNP include:
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
Healthcare managers oversee the business and financial aspects of the facilities they work in. These professionals have in-depth knowledge of everything hospitals need to properly function, whether it’s new supplies or updated technology. They make sure doctors and nurses always have everything they need to deliver quality care to their patients and that there is a budget to provide those resources.
As the baby boomer population in the US continues to rise, so does the need for nursing professionals who can administer the care that they need. The BLS reports that there were approximately 203,800 APRN jobs in 2016—a number that is expected to grow by 31 percent from 2016 to 2026.
There is also a growing need for qualified instructors to fill nursing undergraduate and graduate programs. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in their Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact Sheet, US nursing schools turned away 64,067 qualified applicants in 2016 because of faculty shortages. The sheet also revealed that there were 1,567 faculty vacancies in 821 nursing school in the US in 2016.
The need for educators in nursing is continuing to grow as vacancies fill up and go unfilled. If more teaching roles in nursing schools can become filled, the healthcare industry can also address its growing need for other healthcare professionals like CNOs, healthcare managers and APRNs.
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