5 Doctor of Nursing Practice in Healthcare Leadership Careers

5 DNP Healthcare Leadership Careers

Are you committed to nursing, want further specialization in the field but don’t necessarily want to go into research and academia? Then the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree may be the perfect fit for you. 

This degree will put you in a position to confidently pursue opportunities to progress in your career beyond acute care and into positions of leadership and influence. 

What is a DNP in Healthcare Leadership?

According to Indeed, a Doctor of Nursing Practice or DNP is the terminal degree for nursing “that emphasizes the clinical aspect of nursing and providing direct care to patients.”

While a traditional Ph.D. in nursing provides you with the tools you need to do academic research and perhaps teach in an academic setting, the DNP is ideal for nurse leaders who wish to continue to focus on the clinical aspect of nursing and on improving best practices in the field. 

The DNP is a great fit for those wanting to take their nursing career further into managerial roles or executive leadership roles. 

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there are eight main subject areas that the DNP typically covers:

  • Nursing practice knowledge
  • Care centered on the person
  • Public health
  • Quality and safety measures 
  • Team building and professional relationship development
  • Systems-based practice
  • IT and healthcare technology
  • Professional, personal and leadership development

If you’re a nurse wanting to pursue a senior nursing position or a health administration role, then the DNP degree in healthcare leadership is a must-have. It takes less time to complete than a Ph.D. and has a heavy clinical focus, making it a great practical option for those that wish to gain more influence and impact their healthcare organizations. 

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Pursue your purpose at PLNU.

What can you do with a DNP?

A DNP equips nurses to work in executive leadership positions in a variety of healthcare organizations. These influential positions are crucial for ensuring that the healthcare systems provide effective and equal care for all patients. 

Nurses with DNPs can become healthcare executives, policy makers, government officials and business leaders and are increasingly moving into high-level executive positions in hospitals. 

DNP executive leadership roles utilize the following skills:

  • Teams and organizational leadership
  • Strategic planning and use of resources
  • Analysis of healthcare outcomes 
  • Decision making 
  • Team building and collaboration
  • Application of research and best practice tools 

DNP executive leadership can have a major impact in the healthcare field when it comes to implementing and devising best practices for nursing. 

They can have an immense influence in what policies are implemented, how to best manage health, how to manage administrative systems, determining what the best nursing practices are, and what changes need to be made both in nursing and in overall care. 

Here are 5 careers you can pursue with a DNP in Healthcare Leadership

1. University Nurse Educator

National average salary: $125,930

In the dynamic landscape of healthcare, tenure positions within university-based nursing schools are becoming increasingly attractive, offering sought-after stability, benefits, and competitive salaries. The pressing issue is underscored by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, reporting that in 2019, over 80,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs due to faculty and preceptor shortages.

A DNP not only enhances practical skills but also strategically positions individuals for coveted tenure roles within universities, providing a gateway to imparting knowledge to the next generation of practitioners. DNP-prepared professors, in addition to contributing to education, engage in groundbreaking research, addressing critical gaps in science and medicine.

2. Family Nurse Practitioner

National average salary: $152,920

Family Nurse Practitioners (FNPs) constitute 70 percent of licensed nurse practitioners, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). FNPs, renowned for delivering primary care services, often in hospitals or physicians' offices, build lasting relationships with patients across generations. This fulfilling role, coupled with the high salary associated with a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in this field, brings a unique satisfaction.

3. Nurse Administrator

National average salary: $135,750

Nurse administrators are the main liaisons between executive hospital leadership and nurses. They are responsible for budgeting, hiring staff for specific teams within the system, and supervising staff while ensuring that everyone is complying with regulations 

4. Director of Nursing

National average salary: $90,000–150,000

The path to becoming a director of nursing is one of the most ambitious in nursing, involving oversight of the entire administrative aspect of the nursing department in a hospital or healthcare organization. Success in this top-tier position requires extensive education, experience, and strong leadership skills. For nurses seeking a career-oriented, high-level management role, the director of nursing responsibilities include crucial decisions like staff hiring, budget development, policy implementation, and goal-setting, allowing significant impact on the nursing experience for patients and staff.

5. Chief Nursing Officer

National average salary: $101,000-220,000

A Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) oversees multiple departments within a healthcare facility or manages entire hospitals. The role extends and can be applied to a diverse array of healthcare-related entities. From rehabilitation facilities to insurance corporate offices, the duties of a CNO vary based on the facility. In hospital settings, CNOs ensure operational consistency through regular meetings with department leaders, while in corporate insurance organizations, the focus may primarily be on organizational administration.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

PLNU’s School of Nursing offers a fully online DNP degree program that will help you further pursue your calling in nursing. This nursing program is fully asynchronous with optional synchronous sessions that will allow you to complete the DNP program on a timeline that works best for your life.

Learn from experts in the field, perform an evidence-based quality improvement project catered to your preferences, and walk alongside a mentor through the process. 

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