Doctor of Nursing (DNP) Degree

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The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is one of two terminal doctoral-level degrees awarded in the field of nursing. Unlike traditional doctoral programs that focus almost exclusively on academic research, the DNP is a practice-oriented degree that focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing. Curriculum in most DNP programs typically includes courses leadership, application of clinical research and advanced nursing practice. The primary purpose of most DNP programs is to prepare registered nurses for positions as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), with advanced didactic and clinical knowledge and skills. Advanced practice nurses include the certified registered nurse anesthetist (CNRA), nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), and certified nurse midwife (CNM). About half of all nurse anesthetist programs award DNP degrees to their students.

The benefits of the Doctoral of Nursing Practice (DNP) program includes:

  • development of advanced nursing skills to address increasingly complex faculty, clinical and leadership roles
  • new knowledge that allows nurses to improve nursing practice and patient outcomes
  • enhanced leadership skills to improve nursing practice and delivery of patient care
  • an advanced education credential
  • greatly enhanced career advancement opportunities
  • parity with other healthcare professionals including physicians
  • ability to provide many services previously only provided by licensed medical doctors

To receive the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) designation you’ll typically have 4 years of undergraduate education, several years experience as a registered nurse, and 4 more years of advanced practice education.

What is different about a DNP and PhD in nursing? See our Doctoral Degree in Nursing: PhD verses DNP informational page.


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