RN to DNP Programs

Registered nurses who are interested in becoming an advanced-practice nurse can complete an RN to DNP program in order to become a nurse midwife, nurse practitioner, or nurse anesthetist. Below, we will learn about these programs in greater detail.

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Students who already acquired a license and working as registered nurses may be interested in practicing the profession at a more advanced level. One way of doing this is by completing a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. Here, you can learn more about DNP programs and their typical course content, concentration areas, admission requirements and job opportunities following completion of the program.

Information About RN to DNP Programs

DNP programs provide rigorous training to those interested in taking their nursing profession to the next level. Schools that offer DNP degree programs typically offer a number of different tracks depending on the student's specific interests and career ambitions. Common DNP tracks include Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, to name a few options. These programs combine coursework with hands-on experience, as DNP candidates are required to complete at least 1,000 hours of post-baccalaureate clinical experience. While the course content and clinical experience will vary depending on the specific program, there are several courses that are typically part of any DNP program. We will look at five of these courses below.

Advanced Pathophysiology

A course in advanced pathophysiology is a common part of a DNP program curriculum. In this course, students will build upon their knowledge of various pathologies and diseases to better understand the processes of disease and how it affects the human body. Students will learn how different types of diseases affect body systems and organs differently and will learn how to predict the development of various pathologies.

Advanced Health Assessment

An advanced health assessment course is another common component of a DNP program. This course will provide students with more advanced knowledge on how to analyze a patient's health status based on acquired health data. In addition, students will study health patterns and trends across different cultures and ethnic groups in order to better understand how various health problems may affect different groups of people.

Population Health

Students in DNP programs will also generally take at least one course that focuses on population health. In such a course, students will study health from a wider perspective by looking at health trends and behaviors across population groups, as well as various methods of health intervention that are targeted at different parts of the population. Some topics that may be discussed in this course include inequality of health in different populations, health policy, and epidemiology.

Information Technology

A course focused on information technology will expose students to how they can best use information technology when working as advanced nurses. This course will likely cover how information technology can be used to track patient information, analyze data, and support the decision-making process in terms of treatment. Students in this course may use various computer software programs and work with both quantitative and qualitative data collection and storage methods.

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Clinical Pharmacology

DNP programs typically require that students complete a course in clinical pharmacology. In this course, students will continue to expand their knowledge of various pharmaceuticals and the appropriate way of using them in treatment of patients. Some topics that will likely be covered in this course include pharmacodynamics, pharmacotherapeutics, and pharmacokinetics, as well as adverse drug reactions and how to properly evaluate pharmacologic interventions.

Admission Requirements for RN to DNP Programs

In order to be admitted into a DNP program, students typically must have already completed a bachelor of science degree in nursing, obtained a license, and have experience working as an RN to be considered for any of the advanced practice degrees. In general, when submitting an application, students will need to submit transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended, a resume, a complete application form, and recommendation letters. Some programs may require that students meet a minimum GPA score in order to be considered for the program. Depending on the specific type of DNP program an applicant is applying for, they may also have to fulfill some additional requirements. For example, students who are applying to Nurse Anesthesia programs often need experience working in Critical Care units in order to be considered.

Career Possibilities After Completing an RN to DNP Program

Students who complete a DNP program have a number of different job options depending on what type of DNP program they pursue. Some graduates may go on to pursue a career as a Certified Nurse Anesthetist if they completed a nurse anesthesia program, while others may become Nurse Midwives or Nurse Practitioners. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse anesthetists earned a median annual income of $165,120 as of 2017, while nurse practitioners earned a median salary of $103,880, and nurse midwives earned a median salary of $100,590. All of these career paths are expected to experience higher growth than the national average. The field of nurse anesthesia is expected to grow by 16% between 2016 and 2026, while nurse midwifery is expected to grow by 21% and nurse practice by 36%.

In summary, DNP programs are designed for students who have already completed a bachelor's degree in nursing and are interested in practicing nursing on a more advanced level in a number of specialty fields.

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