What is a DNP?

What is a DNP – Overview?

DNP stands for Doctor of Nursing Practice. It is an advanced degree in the nursing field. It is one of the highest degrees that a registered nurse can achieve.

As per the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the DNP is meant for registered nurses who are looking for alternative careers, especially in research-based doctoral programs.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

In simple words, DNP is a degree that allows you to practice. Any nurse with a DNP is considered to be skilled and trained in the nursing field, but not specifically in research or academia.

Although DNP degrees are technically equivalent to a doctoral-level degree, nurse practitioners with a DNP degree do not have the same authority as a physician or other medical doctors.

The DNP degree affirms that a nurse has reached the summit of their educational journey.

The majority of nurses with DNP degrees tend to work in administrative positions or take on other responsible roles in the healthcare industry.

Still, some nurses use their DNP degrees to seek various nurse practitioner roles.

The DNP degree gives nurses a competitive advantage over nurses with NP degrees. They are given preference over the latter when applying for the same roles.

Soon, nurse practitioners may have to get their DNP degrees just to start their practice.

What does a DNP do?

A DNP has several types of responsibilities. The two most common jobs that nurses with DNP degrees do are:

#1. APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse)

#2. Administration and leadership

DNPs who want to become APRNs get an opportunity to work directly with patients. These professionals are responsible for assessing, evaluating, and managing patient care and treatment.

For this, nurse practitioners need to undertake the APRN certification exam. Apart from this, they may also have to get advanced specialty certification along with APRN certification.

As an APRN certified DNP, you can get a job working as a:

#1. Nurse Practitioner (NP) – Healthcare professionals who do not work under a doctor’s supervision to prevent illness and education patients.

#2. Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) – Clinicians who assist physicians and nurses when administering anesthesia to patients.

#3. Nurse Midwife (CNM) – Healthcare professionals who give reproductive care during all stages of childbirth.

As a DNP, you can also assume administrative and leadership roles in healthcare settings. You can use your skills to help direct nursing initiatives and care programs for patients.

Apart from this, these professionals can also boost executive nursing leadership roles.

Conventional DNPs work in:

#1. Nurse management

#2. Organizational leadership

#3. Health policy

#4. Health informatics systems

How to Earn a DNP?

There are several ways to earn a DNP. Usually, people choose to get their BSN first and then the MSN degree before undertaking a DNP program.

However, you can also choose one of many bridge programs that can help you to achieve your doctorate quicker and help you save significant time.

Let’s Check Out the Stepwise Process to Earn a DNP

What is a DNP

What is a DNP – Let’s check out the stepwise process to earn a DNP


Getting into an MSN to DNP bridge program is the most common way to earn a DNP degree.

Assuming that a nurse already has an MSN certification, it is likely they will work at a higher position.

Hence, they may not find it convenient to go to school full-time. This is a 1-2 years full-time program and 3-4 years part-time.

The program involves researching specialized subjects. The clinical hours from the MSN program can also be applied to the DNP clinical hour requirement.


This program combines the coursework of MSN and DNP. There are a few programs that let you leave the curriculum once you achieve the MSN requisites.

This is a 3-4 years full-time program and takes 4-6 years part-time. This program includes MSN to DNP curriculum and also includes an early exit option before the DNP portion starts.


The RN to DNP bridge program is not commonly pursued by many. Still, it lets you pursue a DNP without a bachelor’s degree.

This program can take around 4-6 years in full-time and more than 6 years in part-time mode. In this program, you will take undergraduate coursework before the graduation course.

Direct-Entry DNP

Direct-Entry DNP is an ideal choice for students with a bachelor’s degree in any field apart from nursing.

This is a 4-6 years full-time course but currently does not offer a part-time option. You will need to earn an RN certification before pursuing a graduate-level curriculum under this program.


Doctor of Nursing Practice is an excellent choice for nurse practitioners who wish to seek alternative non-clinical responsibilities in a healthcare setting.

There are several different ways you can achieve this degree and become a certified DNP specialist.

See Also

Can Nurse Practitioners Prescribe?


Online DNP Programs

Florida Board of Nursing

Texas Board of Nursing

Ohio Board of Nursing

How to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist?

Follow us