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What Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree?

The medical field has various opinions for DNP programs/degrees, some are solid while others are just misleading. You may find people saying a DNP is a waste of time, and just not worthwhile. However, that is not the case. Lots of students are still opting for the degree and there are online post masters DNP programs now available to Arizona residents.

If you are hoping to find clues that help you deduce whether you should opt for the program, then you are in the right spot. Today, we shall look at DNP degrees in detail to help you decide if it is a worthwhile option.

What Is a DNP Degree?

A DNP degree (Doctor of Nursing Practice program) is a nursing degree that allows students to attain a higher level of education once they obtain their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. A DNP is also the highest level of education a nurse can obtain. Graduates are often hired for senior roles and leadership posts. These graduates play a major role in clinical applications and the healthcare industry.

A DNP is designed to produce leaders that can lead other nurses and doctors. DNPs not only have the most knowledge, but they also have tons of expertise to lead teams and medical operations like direct patient care and health policy implementation.

What You Should Know Before Opting for a DNP Program

DNP Is a Degree, Not a Job Role

People often think the DNP is a job post or role but that is not the case. Nurse role examples include a Registered Nurse (RN), or an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). To fulfill these roles, nurses or students need to get the required degree, pass certification exams and obtain licensure.

DNP Degrees May Differ

If you plan to pursue nursing career as an APRN or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse once you graduate, then make sure to opt for a suitable DNP program. You will need to apply to a program that meets the syllabus requirements of the APRN Consensus Model. A nurse with a DNP can practice as an APRN. APRNs may be midwives, anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse practitioners.

  • Many Master’s degrees are solely for APRN training currently.

  • The AACN is emphasizing transitioning students to Doctorate programs like the DNP for APRN training in the future.

How to Obtain a DNP Degree

DNP programs often offer specializations in the fields of emergency medicine, neonatal care, family medicine, pediatric acute/primary care, women’s health, psychiatry, adult acute/primary care, and anesthetics. These programs can be completed in three to five years.

  • A BSN-DNP degree with an AGAC (Adult-Geriatric Acute Care) specialty can be used to sit for an additional AGAC-Clinical Nurse Specialist certification exam to become a certified APRN. This degree is for those that have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing.

  • The MSN-DNP degree is for students that already have a Master’s degree or are board-certified APRNs. They can get a DNP degree to land senior roles and obtain more knowledge.

  • A Post-Master’s DNP allows educators and administrators to get a DNP degree without repeating basic coursework. This option is great for MPA, MBS, or MPH applicants.

Where Can a DNP Degree Holder Work?

DNP nurses can work in two major settings:

  1. Administrative and Leadership Roles

DNP nurses can work in administrative and leadership roles that call for an APRN or Advanced Practice Nursing. These roles also demand direct patient care. A DNP nurse can pick up executive nurse leadership posts or influence health care directly through scientific research and reasoning. An APRN is also responsible for creating innovative care programs that are budget friendly and sustainable. They land the following roles:

  • Organizational leadership

  • National/state health policies

  • Nurse management

  • Health informatics systems

  1. Direct Patient Care

DNP degree holders that opt for the APRN path can also provide direct care to patients. This includes diagnosing, assessing, and evaluating the care/plan for treatment. A DNP will have to pass an additional exam to obtain the APRN certification. You will also have to sit for an advanced specialty certification too. Graduates often opt for the following jobs:

  • CRNA (Nurse Anesthetists)

  • FRNP (Family Nurse Practitioner)

  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

  • CNM (Nurse Midwife)

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse

  • Pediatric Nurse

  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner


Getting a DNP degree can help you gain the level of expertise required for advanced primary care and administrative roles. Not only can you earn a better salary, but you can also enjoy autonomy by working in educational or administrative posts.

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