Thomas Edison State University By Thomas Edison State University • March 21, 2022

4 In-Demand Careers for DNP-Prepared Nurses

Nursing is changing. 

Today’s nurse leaders are needed to make decisions and identify problems yet to emerge. They are called upon to lead healthcare organizations. And they must demonstrate enhanced knowledge in advanced nursing practice, organizational leadership, economics and finance, healthcare policy and technology. 

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was specifically designed to prepare nurses to meet these changing demands and improve patient outcomes. But the degree can also offer higher earning potential, career security and more advancement opportunities within nursing. In fact, employers have quickly recognized the unique contributions these expert nurses are making in the clinical and organizational level, and the demand for DNP-prepared nurses continues to grow.

Graduates of a DNP program are prepared to assume a variety of leadership roles and advance to the highest levels of nursing practice. Here’s a list of the most in-demand positions for DNP-prepared graduates today.

1. Chief Nursing Officer
Nurse executives face increasingly complex challenges as healthcare continues to evolve in the U.S., and the need for these highly trained nurses has only grown. They are distinguished by their keen decision-making and leadership skills while effectively managing patient outcomes, lowering costs and meeting regulatory standards. In recent years, it’s become more and more common that nurse executives earn advanced degrees to expand their clinical knowledge and skill base.
2. Advanced Practice Nurse (Including Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Mid-Wives, Nurse Anesthetists, etc.)
Since 2004, when the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to move the current level of preparation for advanced nursing practice from the master’s degree to the doctorate-level, APRNs are increasingly required to have a doctoral degree to accurately reflect their leadership in clinical practice. Driven by significant nursing shortages and increased complexities in patient care, doctorate-educated advanced practice nurses are sought to handle these issues within their area of specialization.
3. Nurse Educator

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN) report on 2019-2020 Enrollment and Graduations in Baccalaureate and Graduate Programs in Nursing, U.S. nursing schools turned away more than 80,407 qualified undergraduate and graduate applicants in 2019 simply because there were not enough instructors to teach them, citing faculty shortages as the top reason. Institutions are increasingly seeking to fill these instructor roles with highly-trained DNP-prepared nurses eager to educate the next generation of healthcare professionals.

4. Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical nurse specialists must demonstrate strong managerial skills in assessing hospital procedures, processes and personnel while simultaneously treating and diagnosing patients. Their extensive experience and judgement make them ideal candidates to approach problems and challenges yet to emerge.

As a DNP prepared nurse, with a focus on systems-level leadership, you could meet your career goals in an executive or advanced position.

This article was originally published on February 9, 2016 and has been updated for accuracy.

Thomas Edison State University

Written by Thomas Edison State University

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