Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

The doctor of nursing practice (DNP) role was formulated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) in 2004. Their vision is that the DNP role will replace MSN nurses in the future. The DNP program prepares nurses for advanced practice, providing specific education and training for roles such as nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist. The AACN set a target date for this transition for 2015, but Master’s prepared advanced practice nurses will not have to return to school to continue to practice.

Job Duties and Career Opportunities for DNP Graduates

Graduates from doctor of nursing practice schools find employment in a variety of settings. These include physician offices, hospitals, urgent care centers, community clinics, educational institutions, research organizations, and insurance companies. The role of the DNP is similar to the nurse practitioner, functioning as a healthcare provider. Usual job duties include taking patient histories, ordering diagnostic tests and laboratory work, maintaining medical records, diagnosing and treating illnesses, and patient education.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Educational Requirements

Most DNP programs require you to enter as a Bachelor’s prepared or Master’s level nurse with an active RN license. There are many online programs that make obtaining the DNP convenient and allow working nurses to attend part time. DNP program length for BSN professionals can range from 3 to 5 years, and for MSN nurses, the range is 18 months to 3 years. Length depends on status of attendance, with full time attendees completing the program sooner than part time students.

To gain acceptance into a doctor of nursing practice program, you must take and score well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), submit several letters of reference, complete an application, and develop a personal statement essay. Additional requirements could include a GPA of 3.0 or higher and one year of RN work experience.

Courses of Study of a DNP Program

There are many DNP programs online. Additionally, many traditional schools offer online courses that cater to working professionals. Typical classes include nursing evidence-based practice, health economics and finance, clinical data management, advanced nursing health policy, and theory.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Salaries

The salary of a DNP graduate will depend on area of practice, place of employment, location of worksite, and years of experience. Most web sources report DNP annual pay from $80,000 to $150,000. In addition, many advanced practice nurses who own their own healthcare facilities earn much more.


AACN (2013):
ANA (2013):
BLS (2013):
Nurse.Org (2013):

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