Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) puts a nurse at the pinnacle of their profession, working as a leader in critical areas of healthcare delivery.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing in 2004 raised the level of requirement for advanced nursing practice from a master’s degree to a doctorate effective in 2015. Association leaders made the decision because they believe healthcare needs nurses with a skill set that combines expertise in leadership, scientific knowledge, and outcome measurement.
Those who earn a DNP are key to improving patient outcomes. In writing about the value of a DNP for Nurse.org, nurse Danielle LeVeck wrote that earning a DNP “was my hardest academic challenge to date, but graduating was my proudest moment. I wholeheartedly believe in the training of this degree and would not change my academic path.”
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Specializations
DNP programs are “practice focused,” unlike the more research focused PhD. Quality DNP programs give graduates the skills to translate nursing theory and strategies into practical application in real-world settings.
DNP programs offer nurses the chance to focus on specific areas. For example, at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, the online Doctor of Nursing Practice program offers four concentrations: Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Adult/Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Public Health Nurse Leader (PHNL).
In each area, nurses develop advanced practice knowledge and leadership abilities, learn to evaluate and apply research to healthcare operations, and gain skills to support the movement toward more effective and sustainable healthcare.
Demand For Nurse Practitioners
Demand is high for nurse practitioners in Massachusetts and around the country.
In Massachusetts, the number of nurse practitioner jobs is expected to increase by 27.5%, according to the Projections Managing Partnership funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Massachusetts also offers one of the highest annual salaries for nurse practitioners. The mean annual salary for nurse practitioners reached $120,140 in May 2017, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s significantly higher than the national mean annual salary of $107,480.
Graduates from a DNP program typically specialize in one area, developing the expertise needed for leadership and providing the highest quality care. Here are four of the most popular choices.
Family Nurse Practitioner
Those who wish to become a family nurse practitioner develop nursing skills that focus on providing healthcare to families and individuals throughout their life, often developing long-term relationships with patients. Graduates become clinical experts in delivering primary care in a variety of healthcare settings.
Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
Those who work as Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (AGPCNP) have expertise in clinical skills to treat adults and elderly patients. These skills including addressing issues that are physical, cognitive, social, and emotional. Graduates are prepared to take the AGPCNP board certification examination through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
Those who pick a concentration as a Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
develop expertise in applying nursing skills to diagnose and treat those with psychiatric disorders and identify the risk factors for those disorders. Graduates are prepared to work with individuals, families, groups, and communities.
Public Health Nurse Leader (PHNL)
Working as a Public Health Nurse Leader (PHNL) involves supporting population health by delivering preventative healthcare services, developing healthcare plans to serve specific populations, advocating for those who often live in underserved communities, and evaluating programs for effectiveness. PHNL graduates work in public health departments, correctional facilities, businesses, schools, and occupational health facilities.
These are some of the jobs that graduates from an online DNP program can attain. Entering such a program is a worthwhile choice for those who want to work in a profession that is both growing and vital to the future of healthcare.