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Why get the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree?

This has been a topic I have been wanting to discuss for a long time now and haven't really gotten around to it. As some of you may know, there is a forward push to get the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) to be the required degree in order to practice a Nurse Practitioner. However, this is not set in stone yet and individuals can still attend a MSN prepared NP program to practice as an advanced practice nurse in whichever field they specialize in.

So... what is the point of the DNP? It's been about a semester and a half so far into my DNP curriculum, and I can tell you that some of my peers (sometimes me, too) have been questioning whether or not spending this extra money and time to obtain a Doctorate is necessary and worth it. I can tell you so far that the DNP type classes we have taken so far at Columbia are focusing a lot more in nursing leadership, looking to improve the quality of healthcare, understand where improvements can be made... whether in hospital or at clinics, etc. Everyone's career goals are different. So since it is not yet a requirement to have this terminal Doctorate degree in order to practice as a NP, I urge those who are considering MSN vs DNP prepared nurse practitioner programs to do their research (weigh the costs between programs, the length of time, etc.)

So let's get into the nitty gritty... what does having the DNP mean?

  • The DNP focuses on clinical practice competencies rather than the PhD in nursing which focuses on academic research.

  • ​You still practice clinically as a NP, but have other doors open to you with this terminal doctoral degree.

  • According to the Doctor of Nursing Practice website, the DNP expands on MSN concepts including innovation and testing of care delivery models, practice improvement, examination of healthcare outcomes, etc. DNP graduates are nurse leaders in that they have a greater understanding of practice management (one of the classes I am currently taking), improving protocol, quality improvement strategies, cost measurement strategies, and risk management strategies. (

  • The DNP is meant to help improve the delivery of evidence-based care

  • focus on the "triple aim" of reducing costs, achieving better population health, realizing improved patient experiences

  • Those with DNPs can also have roles in education, informatics, public policy, public health, or administration (

  • NurseJournal breaks down some pros and cons of the DNP here you can read: (

  • Another selling point some websites out there are saying that DNPs make more than MSNs ($7,524 more annually)... but TBH the DNP at Columbia is MAD EXPENSIVE. So keep that in mind where you decide to apply and attend.

  • The DNP is a Doctorate. So you will work alongside with other doctorally prepared healthcare team members (PT, Pharm, MD, etc.) and hopefully feel as respected and qualified. (I personally feel like this is a bit bologna since NPs are still considered mid-level providers. I also don't care for having people calling me "doctor." I simply strive to learn and have the competency to be a great provider. I can let my work in my field earn my respect). (

So why am I getting the DNP? I know I have a passion in women's health and I want to be in that line of work clinically when I start my career as a NP. However, I want to keep my options open. Maybe one day I'll discover something that I think needs to be changed in my work place-- a protocol, a system failure, I don't know! Maybe one day I want to do some policy work. Maybe I'll grow old (not a maybe, I will grow old.), and when I'm no longer practicing clinically, maybe I'll teach! Who knows! Hopefully things will play out well and the tons of debt I have coming out of Columbia will be worth it one day.

Here's a good infographic to take a look at:

I hope this helps answer some questions and gives you more clarity as you decide what path to take to achieve your career goals. Remember that everyone has different passions and desires when it comes to what they would like out of their career. Do your research and make sure all the money and time you are spending on whatever path you choose will be worth it in the end.

Have a great week, everyone! Stay motivated!



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