The importance of the role that advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) play cannot be understated. Their knowledge and skills regarding patient care delivery can be invaluable to an industry besieged by the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in states that allow nurse practitioners to have full practice authority. They can be integral to mitigating the effects of the ongoing physician shortage and the deficits in rural care delivery.
As their role becomes increasingly important, APRNs are turning to the highest practice degree in nursing, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), as a way to develop their leadership skills and impact clinical policies. By earning a DNP, nurses can equip themselves with the knowledge and skills they need to fill the gaps within the healthcare industry.
With an impetus to advance nursing education and practice skills, many APRNs are choosing online DNP programs for the convenience of self-paced learning and quality education. The answer to the question “Why get a DNP online?” is easy — DNP students learn about implementing changes that can improve health outcomes.
Why Earn a DNP?
For more than a decade, healthcare leaders and policymakers have been eager to see more DNP graduates practicing across the United States. Experts see the DNP degree as a way to ensure the highest level of patient care and protection.
Unlike the research-focused Ph.D. in nursing, the DNP degree prepares graduates to use critical thinking skills to translate evidence-based practices into improved systems of care and clinical practice. DNPs have a place in healthcare ethics, research, practice, education, leadership, and information technology.
Some of the largest U.S. healthcare think tanks and organizations consider DNPs part of a solution for the increasing shortage of primary care providers. For instance, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has endorsed the concept of moving the required level of academic preparation for APRN roles from the master’s degree level to the doctorate level. The AACN provides several reasons for this endorsement, including:
- The changing demands of the country’s healthcare environment
- The rapid pace of knowledge growth
- Nursing and physician shortages
- National concerns over care quality and patient safety
- Increased educational expectations in general
In addition, there are concurrent movements by organizations such as The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties to make the DNP a baseline requirement for aspiring nurse practitioners by 2025. Earning a DNP now can get nurses ahead of the curve should this proposed change come to pass.
Online DNP vs. On-Campus DNP
On-campus graduate degree programs have their place, particularly for students who prefer attending lectures and workgroups in person. But many APRNs who want to pursue an advanced degree are dealing with time constraints in balancing family and work commitments. An online format reduces barriers to education by providing convenience and flexibility without sacrificing a quality education.
APRNs who choose to study online have ample opportunities to network with fellow healthcare professionals from around the world. That means APRNs can share information about experiences and challenges beyond their local area for a broader perspective on healthcare.
Online DNP students are also given access to ample resources, such as career advisers, tech support, and faculty mentors. The coursework provides students with the opportunity to hone their writing skills through writing assignments, online discussion boards, and professor-student interactions. Students are expected to participate by posting thoughts and reflections, allowing students who are shy in a traditional open-classroom setting to contribute while building confidence. Students also learn self-discipline and connect to a global village of healthcare professionals who have similar goals.
Despite widely held misconceptions, online coursework is not simplified or altered to ensure an “easy A.” At Duquesne University’s DNP program, online students are held to the same high standards as students seeking on-campus graduate degrees, including requirements to attend all classes, practice labs, and clinical experiences. An overall 3.0 QPA is required for graduation.
Why Earn a DNP Online from Duquesne University?
As a leader in distance education, Duquesne University prepares students for real-world practice. The school’s advanced program prepares APRNs for the following:
- Providing effective clinical judgment using a multidisciplinary collaborative approach
- Functioning as an advocate for patients, families, and communities through complex situations
- Modeling awareness of patient and family needs
- Seeking opportunities to mentor colleagues
- Enhancing patient care services and outcomes through new strategies
- Focusing on healthcare diversity requirements
- Developing educational programs to address systemwide needs
- Assisting in the exploration of new knowledge for the delivery of healthcare
- Advocating for culturally competent care and environments
- Promoting ethical decision-making in all aspects of practice
Duquesne University’s online DNP program offers students the opportunity to choose from three different tracks. Each track concentrates on a specific aspect of advanced practice nursing, allowing students to earn a unique level of expertise. The following tracks are offered:
- Clinical Leadership: Courses offered in this track focus on overseeing different aspects of care delivery administration and practice. Concepts covered include healthcare finance, ethical leadership, evidence-based practice, and data management.
- Online Post-Bachelor’s Executive Nurse Leadership and Healthcare Management: This track is designed for students making the transition from a bachelor’s degree to a doctorate degree. Coursework concentrates on building, implementing, and overseeing care delivery administration and practice strategies. Concepts covered include the historical foundations for advanced nursing practice, policy development, and the legal environment in nursing.
- Online Post-Master’s Executive Nurse Leadership and Healthcare Management: This track is designed for students making the transition from a master’s degree to a doctorate degree. Courses focus on organizational leadership in nursing, evidence-based practice, and change management.
Prepare for Healthcare’s Future
With a DNP, nurses can prepare themselves to be leaders in guiding their facilities into the future.
Pursuing any of the three tracks in Duquesne University’s online DNP program can help you become the type of leader who makes a lasting impact in care delivery. The coursework is specifically designed to help you hone your knowledge and skills to an expert level, so you will be fully prepared to handle whatever comes your way. Learn how Duquesne University can help you take your nursing career to the next level.
Students from Duquesne University’s online nursing programs speak to the individualized attention they’ve experienced, the attributions that drew them to enroll at Duquesne, and the expertise of the faculty members who teach within the nursing programs.
0:00 – Duquesne is special in the sense that it gets to know its students, I would never feel like I was just a number here. This program in particular, being a distance learning for some students, the clinical faculty really go out of their way to engage with each student and learn about them and what they need.
0:27- You’re not a number here, you’re actually – you’re a part of a family. Everybody seems to know everybody else. The faculty is always willing to help the student. We’re currently for the 2018 graduates have a one hundred percent pass rate for both our post-master’s certificate students and our master’s students. Something else that is different with Duquesne is we have this predictor exam. It’s an exam that helps prepare them for their national certification exam. So after each of these exams, I meet with the students by phone and we go through what their strengths are and what their weaknesses are, and then I stay in touch with them as their preparing. So even after they finish, I’ll still meet with them and say “Okay, so what have you done now?” or “Before you test, make sure you have this score on your next predictor exam.”
1:15 – What distinguishes Duquesne among other schools I’ve seen, really is the faculty. Many of them are still here, they have longevity, they are so dedicated to their craft, so dedicated to their students. They really bring to the job and the career a level of commitment that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
1:36 – I chose this program because I know Duquesne is a very credible school, the online piece really drew me here. Getting up into the adult years and having my own life, being independent and autonomous in my learning was very important to me – and Duquesne’s online program allowed me that independent learning. The instructors have been great, they’re so helpful. Whenever I have a question, within a day I have an answer. If I have a problem, I have no problems going and talking to them about it.
2:08 – I chose this program based on academics, the mission statement of the university, also the program itself. It is a rigorous program, but you will know what you need to do when you get out. Meaning you are fully prepared when you take boards and when you’re taking that first position, you’re not going to feel that you’re not confident to do this job. The support is there, if you have problems, questions, concerns, you can reach out to anyone and you get an answer right away. If you’re having a bad day, you can call them and they’re helping you get through that. They’re also there at your high points and encouraging you, so it’s a great support system.
2:50 – The expertise of our clinicians is phenomenal; we have the experts in their field come. In women’s health, in men’s health, family practice, internal medicine, some specialty, retail clinics, and they’re experts who have been seasoned clinicians, 24 or 25 years. They’ve worked in a variety of settings and venues and they offer all of that expertise to the students. All of that history and richness of the clinical faculty that come to help, I think that’s our key.
Learn More About Our Online Nursing Degrees
DNP vs. NP: Comparing Career Paths in Nursing
Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician: Examining the Key Differences
Nursing Career Paths and Advancement Guide
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Fact Sheet
American Association of Colleges of Nursing, DNP Talking Points
Association of American Medical Colleges, “AAMC Report Reinforces Mounting Physician Shortage”
The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, “Transforming Practice”
Jones & Bartlett Learning, “DNP Involvement in Healthcare Policy and Advocacy”
Medical Economics, “Dealing with the Shortage of Rural Physicians”
The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties, “The Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree: Entry to Nurse Practitioner Practice by 2025”
Nursing Forum, “COVID 19: An Unprecedented Opportunity for Nurse Practitioners to Reform Healthcare and Advocate for Permanent Full Practice Authority”