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5 Reasons to Get a PhD/DNP

5 Reasons to Get a PhD/DNP

Jennifer Fink | NursingLink

Reason #2: You have a passion for top-notch clinical care

The DNP – Doctor of Nursing Practice – is a relatively new degree. In the past, advancing your nursing education meant stepping away from the bedside. The further you climbed up the academic ladder, the further you retreated from hands-on clinical care. But increasingly, nurses and others are recognizing the value of having highly educated nurses in clinical practice. That’s why the DNP was created.

According to the AACN, the DNP is “designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. DNP-prepared nurses are well-equipped to fully implement the science developed by nurse researchers prepared in PhD, DNSc, and other research-focused nursing doctorates.”

Over the next few years, you’ll see a shift in degrees held by advanced practice nurses (APNs) such as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists. Currently, those positions require a Masters’ degree. But by 2015 or so (the date has yet to be set in stone), those positions will require a DNP. Why? Listen to the AACN again:

“Nurses are constantly working with individuals who have a high level of preparation in their respective fields-physicians, pharmacists, and other health providers. Nursing educational preparation and the time commitment ought to be analogous to other health professions e.g., PharmD, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy. The DNP provides a clinical option for advanced preparation in nursing practice that is more comparable to other intraprofessional education.”

Don’t fret if you already have your MSN; there will be a mechanism in place to grandfather in current advanced practice nurses. But if you’re thinking of continuing your clinical education, why not opt for a DNP program?

Reason #3: You want to move the profession forward

All too often, nurses on the front lines are the ones who see what needs to be done. If you’re a bedside nurse, you can probably list 16 reasons why lower nurse/patient ratios are advantageous to care. But without hard data to back up your claim, hospital administrators aren’t likely to increase nursing staff. That’s where nurse researchers come in.

Renowned nurse researcher Linda Aiken, for instance, has spent her career studying nurses and nursing practice. She’s dedicated her career to improving healthcare for both patients and nurses, and she does that through her research. One of her oft-cited studies demonstrated a clear link between nurse/patient ratios and patient mortality. Aiken discovered that patients at hospitals with the highest nurse/patient ratios (8 patients/nurse) had a 31% greater risk of death. That’s the kind of data that makes hospital administrators sit up and pay attention.

Most nurse researchers are affiliated with colleges or universities, but some are connected to academic medical centers or healthcare organizations. The average salary for a nurse researcher is $95,000 – $100,000 per year.

Next: Reason #4 >>

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