Is A Doctor Of Nursing DNP Degree The Right Choice For You?

Are you considering pursuing a dnp degree, but you are not sure if this is the right further education option for you?

If yes, then you have come to the right place.

Making any decision about your future can be a challenge, but when you are looking to invest thousands of your hard-earned dollars into something, you need to make sure you are making the right choice for yourself and your future.

Fortunately, if you are struggling to decide whether to undertake a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, the below guide can help you.

Keep reading to discover:

• What is a dnp degree?
• What is the difference between a dnp and a Ph.D.?
• What skills do you need to pursue this degree?
• What are the requirements for this degree?
• What can you do with this nursing degree?
• How much can you expect to earn once qualified?
• How to decide where to pursue this degree?

What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?

The ultimate goal of this advanced degree program is to create the nursing leaders of tomorrow. Providing you with the highest level of expertise in nursing and the choice to work either in a clinical setting or in a leadership role, once qualified, you will have the ability and the authority to actually effect change within the healthcare industry.

Choose from a wide selection of highly prestigious and lucrative roles within nurse management, health policy, organizational leadership, and health information systems.

A dnp degree is the ideal further education option for both experienced registered nurses and for nurse practitioners who want to enhance their job prospects and climb the career ladder.

What is the Difference Between a Doctor of Nursing and Doctor of Philosophy Degree?

Both a Ph.D. and a dnp degree are considered to be terminal degrees for nurses, meaning that both demonstrate a nurse is a clinical expert in their chosen field. That being said, there are several important differences between the two.

In a nutshell, a doctor of nursing is focused more on clinical practice, whereas a Ph.D. degree is more research led.

In terms of which one you should choose to pursue in order to further your career in nursing, this will be dependent on several factors, including the type of position you want to obtain, how much you want to earn, and how long you are prepared to study for.

A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is specifically designed for advanced practice nurse practitioners and can be earned in as little as a year of full-time study. A Ph.D., on the other hand, is intended for individuals who want to work as a nurse educator or researcher and takes on average twice as long as a doctorate in nursing.

Due to an aging population and the retirement of many nurse educators, demand for advanced nurses is high in the United States.

What Skills Do You Need to Pursue an Advanced Degree in Nursing?

As a registered nurse, you are highly likely to already possess many of the skills and attributes needed to become successful in a role within advanced nursing. These critical skills include:

• Compassion
• Problem-solving
Executive leadership
• Clinical instruction
• Ability to prioritize
• Effective time management
• Strong work ethic
• Perpetual curiosity
• Strong communication
• Ability to work well under pressure and under stress
• Analytical skills

Don’t worry if you do not feel that you exhibit all of the above skills yet, as this is what a dnp degree course is for – to prepare you for a role in advanced nursing or leadership.

What are the Requirements for a DNP Degree?

Although the exact requirements will differ from one university to the next, you should be aware that acceptance into Doctor of Nursing Practice programs in the United States can be incredibly competitive even though the demand for advanced nurses is high.

Therefore, if you want to pursue this advanced nursing education option, you need to make sure that you have the desired medical qualifications and experience.

For direct-entry programs, you should meet the below requirements:

• Have a current U.S registered nurse (RN) license in good standing in the state that you intend to practice in.

• Minimum one year of nursing experience; some programs require two years.

• Completed application including resume, personal statement, and official transcript.

• Minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher in a bachelor’s or master’s program.

• Letters of recommendation.

• Personal interviews.

What Areas of Nursing Can You Choose to Work in?

Nurses with a dnp degree who have chosen to work in advanced practice direct patient care can choose to work in a wide variety of healthcare specialties, including:

• Family medicine
• Oncology
• Pediatrics
• Substance abuse
• Geriatric care
• Emergency
• Hospice
• Home health
• Rehabilitation
• Surgery
• Labor and delivery
• Anesthesia
• Psychiatry
• Public health
• Radiology

What Can You Do with a DNP Degree?

If you are going to invest not only your money but also your time in pursuing an advanced nursing degree, then you want to know that it is going to be worth your while.

Fortunately, once qualified, there are a multitude of rewarding and lucrative positions that you can obtain, such as:

Health Care Executive

Whether you want to work in a hospital, private practice, or a long-term care facility such as a nursing home, these establishments all need strong leaders who can ensure they run efficiently and productively. As a health care executive, you will be responsible for strategizing, coordinating, and directing health care services such as the ones listed above.

This role suits a dnp graduate who wants to be directly involved in a healthcare facility’s day-to-day operations.

The average salary for a Health Care Executive or Manager is $100,980 per annum, with an expected job growth of 32% between 2019 and 2029.

Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)

There are many different roles within the field of advanced practice registered nursing, including nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist. Within these positions, you will be responsible for coordinating patient care and could choose to work in a hospital, clinic, private practice, or school.

You can obtain many of these roles with a master’s degree but many nurses choose to pursue a dnp to increase their leadership advancement opportunities.

The average salary for an ARPN is $115,800 per annum, with an expected job growth of 45% between 2019 and 2029.

Clinical Researcher

If you are interested in clinical research within the field of nursing, then a doctorate of nursing practice degree can help you to achieve a high-level position within this area of the healthcare industry. Graduates involved in clinical research use their practice to generate evidence that either supports current practice or guides the change of practice to improve patient outcomes.

The average salary for a Clinical Researcher or Medical Scientist is $88,790, with an expected job growth of 6% between 2019 and 2029.

Healthcare Lobbyist

Are you passionate about politics? Do you want to make an impact not only on healthcare policies in the United States but also worldwide? If yes, then a career as a healthcare lobbyist could be the ideal choice for you.

Working for insurance companies, government agencies, or professional nursing organizations, if you have a background or an interest in law, this can also be advantageous for this exciting role.

The average salary for a Lobbyist is $88,001 per annum, with potential annual bonuses of up to $19,727.

How Do You Choose Where to Pursue a DNP Degree?

If you have decided that this is the advanced nursing degree program for you and your career goals, your next step is to choose where you are going to undergo your studies.

This will, of course, be dependent on your individual circumstances, including your current professional and personal situation. That being said, most nurses who choose this further education option will want to study whilst they continue working, meaning the best option for them is to pursue a dnp online.

There are many advantages to pursuing a degree online rather than on-campus. These include:

• Reduction in barriers to education. If you have previously decided against pursuing a dnp degree purely because you didn’t think it was logistically possible for you, then undertaking an online degree could make this a more viable option.

This is namely because this type of degree program offers so much more flexibility than one carried out on-campus. For example, you can choose from either a full-time or part-time course.

• International networking. Online degrees offer you the chance to network with healthcare professionals from all over the world. This means you can broaden your experiences and views and learn about different healthcare industry challenges from across the globe.

• Access to multiple resources. If you are worried that as an online student, you will have less access to important learning resources, then you will be pleased to hear the opposite is, in fact, true. Enjoy amble access to tutors, advisors, tech support, and mentors, as well as online discussion boards and forums, all at the click of a button.

• More cost-effective. Although the cost of an on-campus degree and an online degree are quite similar, by undertaking your studies online, you can save money in many other ways. You don’t need to leave your current job or take a sabbatical; you don’t need to pay for childcare, and you don’t need to pay commuting costs to travel to and from campus.

All of the above being said, as there is less structure with an online degree, you do need to make sure that you are committed to the course you choose and that you have the necessary drive and motivation to complete your studies in the time allocated.

What Else Do You Need to Consider Before Enrolling in a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?

Making the decision to enroll in a dnp degree program is not one that should be undertaken lightly. Therefore, before you click send on your application, here are some things you may want to keep in mind:

• This degree program requires a significant commitment, both in terms of time and investment. Therefore, you need to be dedicated to your studies and to advancing in your nursing career before you make the decision to go ahead.

• This degree program can be difficult to get accepted into. As briefly mentioned above, this type of advanced nursing degree is notoriously tricky to get into, and you need to make sure that you have all the relevant qualifications and experiences before you start applying.

• This degree program can be expensive. That being said, once qualified, you will be able to quickly earn back the difference in tuition through higher-level job opportunities.

Why Should You Pursue a DNP Degree in 2021?

If you want to place yourself on par with other doctorally trained professionals such as physicians, dentists, and psychologists, then a doctorate of nursing practice degree can allow you to achieve this.

Moreover, as a dnp-degreed nurse, you can choose to work in either a clinical or non-clinical setting, allowing you to focus on the specific area of nursing that you want to undertake a leadership role within.

In terms of job acquisition, an increasing number of companies have started to list “DNP” under “preferred job qualifications” because they now realize that this degree program produces candidates that have a unique and highly sought after perspective and knowledge.

Once qualified, you will also be able to command a higher salary, with the average salary for a nurse practitioner with this advanced degree being $125,440 per annum, far higher than the national average wage in the United States. Plus, you can join the DNP community, which hosts annual conferences, publishes role-development research, and provides amazing networking opportunities.


If you are still unsure about whether or not this is the advanced nursing degree program for you and your aspirations, ask yourself the below questions:

Do you see yourself thriving in a leadership role in the future?

Do you want to see your earning potential soar through the roof?

Do you want to be able to actively improve and effect change within the healthcare industry?

Are you ready for a new challenge in your life?

If you have answered yes to one or more of the above, then you are ready for this exciting new chapter in your professional life.