You may wonder “Why do I need a DNP degree if I’m already a successful nurse?” If you want to change the direction of healthcare and build an organization from the ground up, then enrolling in the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program is essential. The terminal degree produces experts who are not only prepared to translate valuable research into actionable plans in a clinical setting but also fill top-tier positions in the healthcare industry. Many nurses who complete the MSN program have the specialized clinical nursing skills to cater to a specific population. The DNP equips nurses with advanced leadership, organizational, financial, and strategic skills to meet challenges within the complex healthcare system.
DNP graduates can assume a variety of leadership roles as heads of departments or organizations. They might hire and train new nurses, mentor potential leaders, and translate established research into viable methods to improve efficiency and patient outcomes. Some graduates prefer a more executive role to effect change at the top. For these positions, the program will cover the skills needed to establish procedures and policies for nursing staff and organizational systems for departments.
In West Virginia, as in other states, the DNP program is gaining ground on the Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) program. Some universities are replacing their existing MSN programs with the DNP while others are increasing the number of roles and population focus available under the DNP umbrella. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and organizations such as the American Association for Nurse Practitioners emphasize the importance of preparing leaders within the profession of nursing. Nurse leaders have a better grasp of the challenges within the profession. They are acquainted with the obstacles that slow delivery of care at the bedside, the pressures of staff shortages, the financial limitations of healthcare organizations, and issues with nurse retention – especially as more nurses retire from the workforce. A nurse leader is better able to lead out on these issues than any other professional. Nurses with experience in clinical practice know what it takes to increase patient satisfaction while decreasing mortality rates, post-surgical infections, use of restraints, and medication errors. The Health Policy, Finance, and Ethics modules in the DNP program will emphasize the delivery of cost-effective care – which is the goal of every healthcare organization.
Reasons to Get A DNP
There’s a lot more to nursing than you’ll ever discover in an associate degree or baccalaureate degree in nursing program. Graduate study covers specialized training that makes nurses experts in a specified area of care. The terminal DNP prepares students to function at the highest level of practice. It opens the door to positions in organizational leadership, public health departments, education, research and much more as employers seek the very best candidates to fill these slots.
Completing a DNP will help you to increase your earning potential. Job projections are strong for registered nurses and will remain that way. Due to demand, RNs can command an annual wage of up to $72,300 as of May 2016. However, to really thrive in the profession, you need an advanced degree such as the DNP. The DNP will help you qualify for positions at the most prestigious hospitals, or you can open your own clinic and earn an average of $133,000 annually as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. Other high paying positions include gerontological nurse practitioner, general nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, informatics nurse, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse administrator.
The healthcare industry has a great demand for medical professionals – so much that the job growth is greater than the average for all other occupations. The need for health care managers to coordinate teams of workers, organize care, and manage medical information is projected to grow 17 percent from 2016 to 2026 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The need for expert leadership makes earning a DNP a wise choice as graduates will likely have the best chance at these executive positions.
Want to stay competitive in the fast-growing profession of nursing? Get a DNP. At one time, the BSN was enough for a nurse to stand out. Several calls for better-educated nurses increased the distribution of BSN nurses so much that they surpassed in the quantity of ADNs in 2011. In the years following, the BSN became the norm for entry into nursing. This trend raised the standard for leadership positions. Entry-level BSNs must now earn a master’s degree for advanced roles and the DNP for executive positions. Obtaining the degree will distinguish you from the competition when applying for a new job or promotion. Although more nurses are pursuing the DNP degree – 5,000 nurses graduated with the degree in 2016 – those who hold the credential are still in the minority. The degree will improve your bargaining power in terms of career advancement.
The rapid pace of changes in healthcare also impacts the profession of nurses. Best practices and clinical technology change constantly, especially in evidence-based practice as leaders seek to improve patient outcomes. You must stay on top of the changes to provide the best possible care to your patients. The DNP covers evidence-based practice in nursing so you’ll know how to collect evidence and utilize research for better patient outcomes. The content goes beyond that of the MSN to give students a broader understanding of the planning and decision-making that goes into the implementation of better practices.
Two advanced practice nurse associations have advocated the DNP. Both the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners made calls for increasing the educational requirements for their members. The AANA clearly outlined that candidates seeking national certification after 2025 will need to have a DNP. The policy will not directly affect CRNAs who practice on the merits of the MSN. However, competition will intensify as new entrants obtain the DNP. You can be proactive and enroll in a DNP program to upgrade your education before it becomes a requirement.
DNP Admission Requirements West Virginia
Master’s degree graduates who enroll in the DNP program will receive additional instruction in leadership, evidence-based practice, and quality improvement. DNP graduates are fully prepared to integrate research results into practice in an efficient manner, analyze data to evaluate and improve patient outcomes, and use health information technology.
The critical capstone project in the DNP curriculum requires students to work with faculty to implement best practices in clinical care. This opportunity will prepare students to design effective and economical programs of care delivery and develop advanced competencies to assume leadership and complex clinical roles.
The DNP degree has a clinical residency requirement of 1,000 clinical hours. If you completed a master’s degree in nursing, the clinical hours completed in the program could be applied to the clinical residency requirements in the DNP degree. Online delivery of the theoretical content gives students the opportunity to pursue their educational goals at a time and place of their choosing while working part-time or full-time. MSN graduates can complete the requirements in approximately two years.
Admission requirements vary from program to program, so check your program of interest for specific entry requirements. The minimum standards for entry into most programs include an active RN license, a passing grade in statistics, and a master’s (or bachelor’s degree) in nursing.
Your readiness for the program, availability of space, and an adequate cohort of students will determine your acceptance to the DNP program at West Virginia University and other universities.
Following are the requirements for admission to West Virginia State University.
- A master’s degree with a major in nursing from a nationally accredited college or university.
- A completed application for the DNP program stating the intended program
- A minimum cumulative GPA of a least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
- A current, unrestricted registered nurse license
- Have certification in an advanced practice role from a recognized national accreditation body
- Complete the prerequisite courses with a passing grade – advanced pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacotherapeutics, and research process
- A current curriculum vitae or resume
- A writing sample detailing a clinical practice problem and how the DNP will help address the problem
- Three letters of reference from persons who will address your ability to succeed in graduate work
- Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
The cost of the DNP program can be a deterrent for many nurses. Before you conclude that you cannot afford the program, you should first investigate the numerous resources that are available to reduce the cost of tuition and expenses for DNP students. Nursing associations related to your specialize, scholarship search engines, employers, and the financial aid department at your university of choice are just some places you can begin. Any time spent in research for credible funding will yield benefits. Tuition and fees per credit cost $637 for West Virginia residents enrolled in the online program at West Virginia University. MSN graduates must complete an average of 32 to 36 credits to obtain the degree.
DNP Programs West Virginia
Morgantown, WV DNP programs:
West Virginia University- Morgantown
P.O. Box 9600, Morgantown, WV 26506
Crystal is a certified Registered Nurse (RN) with a passion for writing about nursing education. Through her articles, Crystal shares insights and tips to help fellow nurses enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest developments in the field. With a focus on practical advice and relevant topics, Crystal's writing is a valuable resource for nursing professionals seeking to advance their careers.