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What Can You Do With a Doctorate in Nursing?

Those who have an interest in advancing their career in nursing to a leadership position, or to take on higher levels of specialized advanced practice, benefit from a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. Completing an online DNP program can take between three and five years and, while it isn’t a requirement for all advanced nursing position, it can help move nurses into leadership positions.

DNP vs PhD: What’s the Difference?

While the two are similar to each other, in that they are both doctoral degrees in nursing, representing the highest level of nursing rank, there are some key differences students should make a note of including:

  • Research: The primary difference between the DNP and PhD is its research component. The DNP is intended for advanced clinical practice, while the PhD is an academic degree for future teachers and researchers. Research in a DNP vs PhD program is less intensive for the DNP, focused on applied research; obtaining your PhD, on the other hand, requires in-depth research projects that are faculty-guided.
  • Application Prerequisites: Because they are practice-focused, DNP programs usually require a BSN or MSN, as well as a current RN license, to as well as work experience in nursing. Since they are more research and theory-based, PhD programs may only require a bachelor’s degree, and not always necessarily in nursing.
  • Credit Hours: Obtaining a Ph.D. actually requires fewer hours, 60 credit hours, while a DNP requires between 70-95. That is due to the difference in requirements: a PhD requires a dissertation, while the DNP requires clinical hours.
  • Clinical Work: There are up to 1,000 hours for DNP programs, but clinical experience is minimal for most PhD programs
  • Online Programs: Considering the DNP vs PhD, online programs are readily available for each.
  • Post-Graduate Employment: DNP program graduates typically take on leadership roles in clinical settings, whereas those holding a Ph.D. become researchers, faculty members, or have health policy positions in government agencies, nonprofits, or healthcare systems.

What are Examples of Doctor of Nursing Practice Jobs?

There is a broad range of jobs available for those holding a DNP or have DNP specialties. Examples include:

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist: it’s their responsibility to optimize patient care, make decisions regarding staff allocation, develop specialized treatment plans following examinations, provide patient education, promote staff teamwork through the incorporation of best practices, analyze patient data, and participate in new research.
  • Healthcare Executive: these individuals must ensure hospitals and medical offices continue operating in a machine-like manner. Not only do these medical professionals understand the relationships between doctors and nurses but also what patients are expecting from healthcare providers.
  • Nurse Anesthetist: these nurses must administer anesthesia during procedures, perform epidurals, nerve blocks, and spinal blocks, give patients care following procedures, examine patient’s records and histories to ensure no allergies or illnesses or present that will interfere with their care, discuss side effects of anesthesia with patients, and monitor vital signs throughout procedures.

What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice Salary?

Employers are recognizing the value of those holding a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, as well as the need for such nursing professionals. While DNP salary by state can range, the average Doctor of Nursing Practice salary is $97,452 annually. When analyzing state-to-state statistics, you’ll find that some salaries can reach up over $120,000 annually for those holding a Doctor of Nursing degree. These facts alone help some determine whether or not it’s worth it to get their DNP.

Is a DNP Worth It?

Before embarking upon educational paths, students may wonder “Is the DNP worth it?” before making the time and financial investment. Not only does this nursing program prepare nursing students for advanced leadership roles but it also helps patients have access to the highly skilled nursing professionals they need. Because the nursing practice has grown in complexity, so has the nursing science specializations. Therefore, it’s worth it for students to achieve these advanced clinical skills so they can assess illnesses systematically, design and implement interventions, and demonstrate clinical judgments at advanced levels. So is the DNP worth it? If you want to reach the highest levels of authority, responsibility, and pay, yes – it’s absolutely worth it.

Find Your Degree is an advertising-supported site. Featured programs and school search results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other information published on this site.