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Unlike other advanced nursing degrees, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) prepares students for the clinical aspects of the field. A typical DNP program teaches budding nurses how to deal with the practical applications of nursing, such as balancing a health care facility’s budget or determining how decisions will affect a patient’s health. If you’re seriously considering an advanced degree, you might be wondering if a DNP or Ph.D. is better for you. You are also probably wondering what types of jobs each will prepare you for and what you can do with each after graduation. Here are a few questions and concerns you might have about earning a DNP and a few reasons why earning your DNP is a wise decision.
Do I Need My Bachelor’s Degree?
The short answer to this question is “yes,” and the reason is simple: A four-year education offers you the training and skills necessary to handle the complexity of a DNP program. Before you can aspire to a doctorate, you must head back to the classroom and earn your bachelor’s in nursing. Luckily, online education is a very real option and a great way to earn your degree without having to quit your job or sacrifice personal time.
DNP or Ph.D. — Which Is the Better Choice?
Before making any final decision, there’s a key difference between the two programs that must be understood. A DNP is a practical degree and is mostly intended to prepare a registered nurse to become an independent provider. Conversely, a traditional Ph.D. is more academic and won’t allow you to diagnose and treat illness in the same way. If you’re interested in working with patients in a hospital or clinic setting, a DNP is the better option. However, if you find academia and research more fascinating, stick with a typical Ph.D. program instead.
How Long Will I Be in School?
The length of your schooling is dependent on a variety of factors. If you take a full course load, you can expect to earn your DNP in anywhere from 18 to 24 months. However, part-time students will find it can take up to three years or longer to complete the program. Whatever you choose, remember a DNP program is very strenuous, and you must be willing to devote a large chunk of your time and energy to your studies if you want to succeed.
Can I Earn My Degree Online?
As a busy professional, you’re probably concerned with the time and energy required to leave your job and drive far away to attend classes in a traditional campus setting. Campus-based education is always an option, but there is a better and easier way. Attending classes through online dnp programs allows you the flexibility to choose when and where you study and learn. It’s possible to attend a discussion group, take a test or study your material from your living room couch or your employer’s breakroom. In many cases, online university is also less expensive simply because you don’t need to pay for many of the extras associated with a traditional campus-based education.
What Jobs Are Waiting for Me After Graduation?
It might seem confusing, but for the most part DNP recipients either work in a hospital, clinic or university setting as a nurse practitioner or a university instructor. There are other opportunities available with a DNP, including management, but for the most part you’ll either work directly with patients or teach a new generation of nurses. Whatever your final option, know that earning your DNP is an amazing accomplishment.
If you’re a registered nurse with a desire to advance in your present career, take on additional work responsibilities and demand a much higher salary, earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice is one of your best options. It might seem overwhelming, but just remember online education is available and is a great way to further your career without sacrificing your work and family life.
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