3 Signs You’re Ready to Pursue Your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)-prepared nurses have the skills needed to meet the demand for safe patient care and become leaders.

Nurse studying for her DNPAre you a nurse who's ready to take your career and education to the next level? Have you been considering what you can do to advance the nursing industry and your career goals? Then consider earning your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This degree gives you the foundation to expand your knowledge and advance the clinical practice of nursing. Not sure if you're ready to make the leap? Here are three signs that you're ready to go back to school and pursue your DNP.

You want to improve patient care and impact the clinical aspect of nursing care

DNP-prepared nurses are leaders in advanced clinical practice, as the DNP program prepares you with advanced clinical knowledge through a scholarly approach and background. Graduates understand how to use evidence-based research and practice in a clinical setting.

DNP curriculums teach:
  • Organizational and Systems Leadership
  • Strategic Leadership and Business Management
  • Evidence-Based Practice for Quality Improvement
  • Health Policy and Advocacy

And because DNP-prepared nurses make contributions in the clinical setting through research, health policies & procedures, and education, they directly impact nursing care quality and effectiveness for patients. Therefore, earning your DNP allows you to meet the demand for safe patient care.

Are you also looking to change current nursing policies?

With a DNP, you can influence the clinical aspects of nursing care, policies, and procedures. For example, current Aspen University DNP candidate Simone Kessler, RN, BSc, BSN, MSN, hopes to impact nurse-to-patient ratios in hospitals. “I would like us to be more inclusive with having nurses in making those decisions. It would be about the safety and efficacy of what the nurse feels is safe,” she says.

Many nurses DNP-prepared nurses are healthcare executives, chief operating officers, administrators, and policymakers. Through evidence-based research and analyzing policies, these nurses:

  • Bring awareness to issues
  • Serve as leaders in nursing organizations that strive to make impacts on the nursing industry
  • Address, develop, and influence policy intervention and agendas
  • Assess legislation that directly impacts nursing care
  • Serve as educators

You're ready for higher-level career roles

Changing demands in healthcare, paired with complex medical conditions, make DNP-prepared nurses in high demand. As you advance your education and seek roles beyond the bedside, having a DNP allows you to enter these higher-level positions. Some advanced practice registered nurses, such as nurse practitioners, will also earn their DNP to improve their career and nursing knowledge.

That was the case for Aspen alumni Dr. Pamela Manning, DNP, MSN-Ed, APRN, AGNP-BC. She was already an adult-gerontology nurse practitioner with her own primary care office when she earned her DNP in 2020. As a result, Dr. Manning credits her doctorate title for helping her land a new opportunity as the Director of Nursing at a private school. “The fact that I got my DNP is what granted me the position,” she says, explaining that the school approached her with the opportunity.

Note: if you’re confused about the difference between a Doctor of Nursing Practice and a Nurse Practitioner, we have this DNP vs. NP guide to help you. 

Additionally, doctorate-level nurse practitioners like Dr. Manning help bridge the gap between the nursing profession and the physician shortage by serving as providers. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing has endorsed the requirements for advanced practice nurses to earn the DNP, citing the need for the “highest level of scientific knowledge and practice expertise to assure quality patient outcomes.”

Also, continuing your education to a DNP can help you stay competitive. According to the 2018 AORN Salary and Compensation Survey results, the base compensation for DNP nurses was nearly $7,500 more than the base compensation for nurses with a master's degree. DNP-prepared nurses can serve as Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operating Officers, or Clinical Nurse Specialists.

You want to stay up-to-date and relevant in the nursing industry

As healthcare rapidly changes, so does the nursing industry. Advanced technologies, the evolution of disease processes, breakthrough procedures, and scientific discoveries make it crucial for nurses to stay informed and updated on trends in the industry. DNP programs are designed to prepare their graduates to be future nursing leaders by providing up-to-date information on the latest trends, discoveries, and newest leadership and management developments.

You may also find your own valuable discoveries and trends through the program’s DNP Capstone Project. In the past, Aspen students have tackled and presented research projects on nurse burnout and bullying on new nurses, among other pivotal topics.

If you are ready to take the leap and use your clinical expertise and learn the skills needed to be a nursing leader, consider an online DNP program.


The article originally appeared on Aspen University's Altitude blog, written by Portia Wofford. Aspen University is a United States-based private, for-profit, accredited distance-learning university, reputable for its affordable nursing programs, including its online DNP program. Altitude is the official blog of Aspen University that features informative nursing articles, compelling tips, and professional accomplishments.


  1. Before endorsing any requirement for NPs to complete a DNP or other termijnal degree, mI would like to see some credible evidence that NPs who have earned a DNP give better care than othef NPs. I find the idea unlikely, but given sufficient evidence , I will chnage my mind.


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