A Doctor of Nursing Practice is a wonderful way for nursing students to further their education and career. While many disciplines have long had defined routes to achieve a high level of expertise and scholarly excellence, only recently has the nursing profession set such a program in clear terms. If you’d like to know more about this wonderful degree option, this article will elaborate upon the requirements to achieve it.
Many fields differentiate between the coursework required to receive a master’s degree and the additional needs to achieve doctoral status. The Doctorate of Nursing is a bit different in this, among other things. Students pursuing their DNP will complete a graduate course load that carries the weight of a doctorate, due to the many extra credit hours and practical application requirements of the degree. The DNP differs from doctoral degrees in other fields. Its focus is practical and possessed of an immediacy that many theory- and research-based degrees lack.
While the coursework is rigorous, the rewards for completing it are large. Moreover, by completing such a degree, nurses open new avenues of professional exploration for themselves. They can diversify their education to become nurse practitioners, thus opening private practices. They might choose to work as members of a policy group, helping to shape the way healthcare is enacted, benefits are offered to nurses, and ancillary programs formed. At the same time, they might choose to become educators, which are in great demand for the next generation of practicing nurses.
New News Is Good News
While the degree track is relatively new, educators and policy builders around the country recognize the deep need for such programs. Only formally codified in 2006, the degree program is currently available in 48 states, as well as Washington D.C. It also represents one of the fastest growing and most beneficial degree tracks of the medical profession.
Across the United States, 264 universities are actively accepting students into DNP programs, and another 60 schools are developing programs of their own. In a single year, from 2013 to 2014, the number of nursing students enrolled in these programs jumped from nearly 15,000 to over 18,000, with successful graduates increasing in stride. These statistics are incredibly encouraging, considering the current doldrums of nursing school admittance records due to lack of qualified teachers, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Sound Logical Underpinnings
Nursing students are encouraged to pursue the DNP for several reasons. First, the aforementioned healthcare crisis, in which the demand for qualified nurses will far exceed the number of trained individuals. Second, the fact that medical science is providing extensive insights into the nature of disease and the options for treatment means that a higher level of critical education is essential for effective practice and care.
These consideration may be coupled with the facts that many other areas of medical practice already offer established practice-based doctoral degrees, and nursing is a crucial aspect of patient care quality. There are many concerns about the formation of effective treatment protocols, with which DNP graduates could be deeply involved.
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There are many excellent reasons for nursing students to contemplate an advanced degree. While several of them are personally enriching, such as larger salaries, a more robust Curriculum Vitae, and expanded professional opportunities, there are others that are consonant with the nursing profession’s main goal. Patient care, and care of practicing nurses of all varieties, requires qualified and quality individuals at the helm. The doctor of nursing practice provides individuals with the tools they need to make a difference in the healthcare landscape of tomorrow.