What Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice? A Quick Answer

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To explain in a few words what is a DNP in nursing, it’s a terminal degree in nursing that prepares nurses to provide advanced care to patients, lead healthcare organizations, and influence health policy. It is one of the highest degrees in the field, alongside a PhD. An individual with a doctor of nursing practice degree is a highly qualified and skilled professional who can work in various settings and roles, including a clinical leader, nursing administrator, clinical specialist, educator, researcher & nurse practitioner.

Doctor of Nursing Practice Programs: Overview, Requirements & Options

Now, you know what is a doctor of nursing practice (DNP). So how can you earn it? To pursue a DNP, a graduate generally needs a bachelor’s or master’s degree, clinical experience, and a capstone project/dissertation. However, requirements tend to vary depending on the educational option and the specialization you choose. Here’re some of the common requirements.

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • A current RN license in the state you intend to practice.
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA out of 4.0.
  • A Resume/CV, a personal statement, and 2 or 3 letters of recommendation from professional or academic sources.

Some institutions require additional prerequisites like specific coursework, clinical work, and certifications. And generally, doctor of nursing practice programs take between 2 and 3 years to complete.

What Institutions Offer the DNP Programs?

You can identify the right doctor of nursing practice program by considering factors such as accreditation, curriculum, faculty, cost & outcomes. Great options for a student looking to pursue a DNP program include:

John Hopkins University
Duke University
Rush University
University of Washington

The above universities are ranked based on factors like faculty credentials, student services, student engagement, peer reputation & accreditation.

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What Do DNPs Do?

A DNP degree prepares nurses for leadership roles in administration, clinical, research & education. Nursing pros with a DNP can work in a hospital, conduct student and clinical staff education or join university faculty and research institutions.

Is a DNP a Real Doctor?

Specialists with doctorate degrees only have the academic title but are not physicians like MDs or DOs who’ve graduated from medical school and residency. So they are not real physicians who practice with patients.

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