The Journey and Benefits of Pursuing A Higher-Level Nursing Career

More often than not, holders of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) struggle to decide whether they should enroll back in school for a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Not all that long ago, the choices were limited to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS), with a few other options before the DNP came into being.  Since the advent of the DNP, many advanced nurse practitioners have opted for this choice. Choosing a DNP vs. Ph.D. nursing career path becomes a challenge as many people do not fully understand the difference or how it might further their career.

DNP and Ph.D. nursing careers in more detail

DNP programs teach organizational and systems leadership as well as advanced nursing expertise. This career path prepares you for the highest ranks of administration and leadership in an organization. Being a Registered Nurse (RN) with an MSN will give you the opportunity to work in a leadership capacity. However, if you want to make an impact on the nursing profession, getting a DNP and a Ph.D. can help you achieve some of the top roles in nursing.

A DNP prepares nurses with high-level knowledge in clinical nursing practice to improve patient care. The Ph.D. in nursing, on the other hand, leads to positions in academic settings and research, including leadership roles.

Benefits of pursuing a DNP degree

Being at the forefront of nursing, DNP-prepared nurses can increase successful patient outcomes due to their medical decision-making skills and knowledge. They also understand how to collect data and analyze it to pinpoint the best clinical practice to be applied after doing a thorough review. This career path can also help you cultivate healthcare improvements to enhance patient experiences and reduce other health-related costs.

Besides additional job opportunities and better salaries, MSN-prepared nurses can enroll for a DNP to achieve the following:

  • A different certification in the nursing field.
  • A leadership position in public health, health policy, or informatics.
  • Further clinical competence beyond the current Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) role.

On the other hand, a Ph.D. in nursing will prepare you to make a lasting impact on the delivery and quality of patient care. You will also be in a position to make healthcare improvements by developing new knowledge through scientific inquiry in nursing science. The contributions you make as a Ph.D. nurse can change public policy locally and globally.

Beyond the personal accomplishments and satisfaction that come with working as a Ph.D. nurse, you will also fill a crucial need in the US healthcare system.

A few benefits of holding a nursing Ph.D. include the following:

  • You will reach the pinnacle of your nursing career and be respected as an expert. 
  • With the ability to pursue and interpret scientific knowledge, you will play an integral role in improving the delivery of care while helping to shape healthcare policy.
  • With the healthcare system facing a great challenge due to the shortage of nurses, you will be an invaluable educator. A Ph.D. in nursing will prepare you to provide high-quality education to future nurses, greatly impacting the healthcare system.

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