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The 5 Most Popular Places for DNPs to Work

DNP WorkersThe Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an option for Nurse Practitioners (NPs) who want to pursue a terminal nursing degree.

Because of the growing complexity of health care, the depth of scientific knowledge, and the sophistication of current technology, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) didactic and clinical degree hours have expanded beyond practically any other industry. Because of this, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is recommending that all entry-level Nurse Practitioner (NP) programs be transitioned from the MSN degree to the DNP degree by 2015.

Unlike most doctorate-level programs, which focus on research, the DNP is designed to be a practice-focused doctorate. In other words, Ph.D.s work to discover new knowledge, while DNPs work to implement that knowledge in their own practice and in the larger health care system.

In nursing, as in many professions, more education can lead to better job prospects, but it also can change the role the nurse plays in health care. A DNP is provided with advanced education to inform direct care specialization (e.g., NP, nurse anesthetist, nurse midwife, clinical nurse specialist) or indirect care specialization (e.g., nursing administration, nursing informatics, nursing education).

Nursing is one of the fastest growing industries, according to the BLS, because of the rapidly aging population of the United States. Now is therefore an excellent time to pursue a career in nursing. Here are five popular places for DNPs to work:

#1: General medical and surgical hospital

Almost a third of Registered Nurses work in general medical and surgical hospitals, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and for good reason: They tend to pay the most. In these hospitals, NPs—who are RNs with specialized graduate education—earn a median annual wage of $95,470—the highest median of the top five industries employing NPs. But Nurse Anesthetists, a particular type of NP, earn the most by far, with an annual mean wage of $163,220 in general medical and surgical hospitals.

#2: Health department

This is an exciting time for nursing practice, and nurses are understood to be one of the key voices to developing effective care and public health systems. It is also a crucial time for health department to mine the brightest minds from the nursing community, particularly those who have the exact characteristics offered by a DNP—leaders with an intimate knowledge of nursing combined with a thorough understanding of the industry’s research. DNPs interested in policymaking and education may choose to work in a government or academic health department, which are charged with promoting health at the highest level by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Health policy nurses analyze public health laws, develop strategies to advocate change, and plan and implement new policies in health. They may also work in health services research firms, legislative offices or health care provider associations.

#3: Ambulatory clinic

Ambulatory care nurses take care of patients in environments other than hospitals, such as offices of physicians or outpatient care facilities. These jobs tend to offer a comparable salary to hospitals, but in a very different setting—it is usually a smaller environment, and some ambulatory care nurses may be the only one working in their particular office. They provide medical screenings, triage, and case management, and they also tend to work one-on-one with a single doctor or a few doctors.

#4: Specialty hospital

Clinical nurse specialists—nurses with specialized training—are experts at diagnosing and treating illness or disability in their area of expertise. And because of their concentration of activity in a single field, specialty hospitals can provide clinical nurse specialists with resources and access to the cutting edge of the health care industry. DNPs who want to be both clinical and thought leaders in a particular specialty may therefore want to consider working in a specialty hospital.

#5: Colleges, universities, and professional schools

If you want to help shape the next generation of nurses, perhaps you should consider being a nurse educator. In addition to designing and teaching academic curriculum, nurse educators may conduct research, write grant proposals, and help maintain clinical standards in the nursing profession. Both Ph.D.s and DNPs who want to teach in schools of nursing are eligible to do so, though both require additional preparation in the form of coursework focused on education, in addition to clinical or research experience. Note that expectations of faculty in terms of scholarship vary widely from institution to institution. Some institutions don’t allow clinical faculty to enter the tenure track.

D.N.P. Degrees for Aspiring Nurse Practitioners

Search online and campus DNP programs