Doctorate of Nursing Practice Programs

People who are unfamiliar with nursing degree programs are usually surprised to find out that schools even offer doctorate of nursing practice programs. After all, if a healthcare practitioner is going to go for their doctorate, why wouldn’t they just become a doctor? The truth is, there are a lot of nursing career paths that require advanced degrees, including doctorates.

These include:

–        Nurse practitioners

–        Nurse midwives

–        Nurse anesthetists

–        Many psychiatric nurses

–        All advanced practice registered nurses

Though APRNs tend to make more than their undergraduate counterparts, advanced nursing degree programs aren’t just about career advancement. Many advanced degrees are intended to allow nurses to specialize in a specific area of medicine. So, for RNs with baccalaureate degrees, it usually makes sense to pursue an advanced degree if they want to enter forensics, oncology, or another specialized medical field.

Educational Standards and the Board of Nursing

Nurses have a legitimate gripe when it comes to their educational standards. The degree requirements for nurses change more often than just about any other profession.

All areas of nursing are governed on the state level by a state’s Board of Nursing. This is an organization that handles everything to do with nursing education, licensure, examinations, changes in legislation, approving nursing schools, and more. Recently, Boards of Nursing have been revising their educational requirements to make APRNs, like nurse practitioners, need doctorate degrees in order to practice. These changes are going to be coming into effect in just a few years, depending on the state, so a lot of students that don’t want to be forced to get doctorate degrees in nursing are trying to finish their master’s degree programs and be grandfathered in. Any student that isn’t close to finishing their master’s, and wants to become an APRN, should anticipate having to go back for their doctorate once these new changes are implemented.

Finding the Right Doctorate of Nursing Practice Programs

The Board of Nursing may sound like a pain for changing the educational standards for nurses, but they’re also your best friend when it comes to finding suitable doctorate of nursing practice programs. In order for nurses to be able to sit for their licensure examinations, they must graduate from a Board-approved nursing program. Unfortunately, not all schools can be trusted to be upfront about their nursing programs.

When it comes to the Board of Nursing, “approved” and “accredited” don’t always go hand in hand. There are some nursing degree programs that are not approved by the Board, and there are some schools that will claim to have Board approval, when they don’t. This means that the state Board of Nursing is every nursing student’s best friend when it comes to getting a comprehensive list of currently approved degree programs, including doctorate of nursing practice programs.

Why You Should Get a Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Doctorate of nursing practice programs are difficult and expensive, but they’re worth it in the end. Nurse practitioners can make up to $120,000 a year, and many other APRNs are able to net around $80,000-$90,000 on average.

The worldwide nursing shortage has also led to a serious dearth of nurses with advanced degree. Nursing students are encouraged to become registered nurses and enter the workforce, and not enough emphasis is placed on continuing their education and becoming nursing teachers. As a result, advanced degree nursing programs are often suspended or discontinued as schools scramble to find qualified teachers. By getting an advanced degree, you can function as either an advanced practice nurse, or a nursing educator, and help tackle the nursing shortage in a variety of ways.

Doctorate of nursing practice programs may not always be easy to find, but they’re worth seeking out. Nurses with advanced degrees earn more, have wider scopes of practice, and ca even have the flexibility to open their own practices if they so choose. With a nursing doctorate, your nursing career can take you anywhere you want to go.