If you’re preparing to begin a Doctor or Nursing Practice (DNP) program or it’s something you’re thinking about in the future, then you should do whatever you can to prepare.
Earning a DNP is a huge accomplishment that will open up lots of opportunities, but it’s also a hugely challenging undertaking.
You should be prepared to work hard, absorb as much information as you can, and meet challenges head-on.
You might have certain expectations already about training for an advanced nursing degree. Some of those expectations might be accurate, but you’ll probably be surprised by the reality of the program to some degree.
Here’s what you should know in advance to help you get the most out of your program:
Familiarization with Different Types of Nursing Specialties
The distinction between different advanced nursing degrees can be confusing, even if you already work in the field.
Some registered nurses go on to pursue an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), while others choose the DNP route.
Both degrees will open up new opportunities, autonomy, and specializations, but the DNP degree is the more advanced option.
If you earn a DNP, you’ll be able to work with patients directly, diagnosing health problems and creating treatment plans.
You’ll also be able to take on new roles and have some flexibility in your work setting. You can conduct research or work in academia, but you might also choose to take on a leadership role or specialize in working with a certain population.
The DNP degree is considered the pinnacle in the field of practical nursing. The degree is not research-focused like a nursing Ph.D. and will prepare you for direct patient care.
It will give you lots of flexibility, earning potential, and job stability. DNP programs are rigorous, but once you earn your degree, you’ll have lots of options.
Understanding How to Empathize and Lead Teams
If you’ve worked in the field of nursing for any length of time, then you know just how stressful it can be.
Stress and burnout among nurses are extremely common and is often the result of overwhelm, lack of rest, and many other factors.
As a DNP, you might be called upon to lead and inspire teams of nurses, so it’s a good idea to try to develop leadership skills as you go through your program.
Nurses have to understand how to perform practical tasks, but soft skills like empathy are absolutely crucial as well.
In nursing leadership, you have to be able to empathize with your team while bringing out the best in them and ensuring that all necessary tasks are performed. This is something that takes practice and should be a major focus for nurses pursuing a DNP.
Prepare to Develop Your Own Ideas and Nursing Philosophy
In basic training for nurses, you’re learning practical skills for patient care, you’re not trying to reinvent the wheel.
As you move up and gain more education, however, the emphasis will shift from practical skills alone and start to encompass innovation as well.
Nurse practitioners perform many of the same duties as medical doctors and must be self-directed, developing their own ideas and care philosophies.
As you go through your DNP program, don’t just absorb the material. Expand on it. Think about what you’re most passionate about within the field of nursing.
What do you feel are a nurse’s key responsibilities?
Asking yourself questions like these throughout your training will help you to think critically and innovate so that you can expand your independence and autonomy within the field.
DNPs have advanced skills and increased responsibilities. You won’t be simply following the physician’s orders anymore—you’ll be responsible for patients’ outcomes and well-being.
Once you enter DNP training, you have to shift your thinking and realize that people will be looking to you for knowledge and peace of mind.
A Challenging but Enriching Experience
If you want to take the advanced practice nursing (APRN) certification exams, you will need advanced training of some kind.
A DNP program will prepare you for work as an APRN and will also allow you to choose your own path in nursing.
Your doctoral project should be challenging, groundbreaking, and a reflection of your passions and philosophy. Doctoral programs are extremely challenging but also offer a lot of benefits.
Nursing is an extremely rewarding career. Getting your DNP degree will push you to your limit, but it will also allow you to grow within the field and build a satisfying career.
Don’t give up and remember that your degree will offer you many rewards in the future!