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Should You Get a DNP? What You Need to Know Before Applying

Posted by Sara Giboney Friday, Jun. 7, 2024

_What You Need to Know Before Applying For Your DNP

Have you been thinking about pursuing your Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)? Discover what you need to know before applying to a doctoral nursing program.

Should You Get a DNP? What You Need to Know Before Applying

A DNP allows you to study advanced nursing practices, develop leadership skills and advance your career.

You can choose a specialization focused on a specific population or type of care that fits with your interests and career goals. 

Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) offers rigorous DNP programs that fit the needs of adult learners.

“NMC’s DNP program should be your first choice because we have expert faculty who care about you as a person and student, and encourage communication and community while you are in the program,” said Tara Whitmire, BSN-DNP Director. “Our program prepares you to be an autonomous advanced practice nurse.”

Understanding DNP Programs

A DNP is a terminal degree in nursing that prepares nurses for advanced clinical practice and leadership roles.

Depending on their area of study, nurses who earn a DNP can diagnose patients, treat illnesses, prescribe medications, provide disease prevention information, conduct research, mentor staff, create health policies and manage clinics. A DNP-prepared nurse differs from a nurse with a PhD, who works in academia or research.

DNP programs at NMC focus on different areas of practice such as patient care, leadership and public health policy.

Benefits of a DNP

DNP Career Outcomes:

There is an increased demand for nurses with advanced degrees. Hospitals and clinics, particularly those in areas that face healthcare personnel shortages, are hiring nurses with DNPs more than ever before.

The projected job growth for nurse practitioners is 38% from 2022-2023, which is much faster than all other occupations.

You can use this demand to your advantage and take your career to the next level.

A DNP can lead to advanced practice roles such as clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, clinical program director, healthcare executive, educator or public health administrator.

Improved Patient Outcomes:

As a nurse, you have a thorough understanding of the needs of patients and the systems within the healthcare system.

As a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist, you’ll be equipped to provide patients with quality care. As a leader in a healthcare organization, you’ll be prepared with the clinical and leadership skills to create positive outcomes by improving access to care and health equity.

Maria Douthett, a graduate of the DNP program at NMC, became a provider in a community clinic working to improve the health outcomes of at-risk populations.

Leadership Opportunities:

Getting a DNP can lead to leadership opportunities within healthcare. 

Nurses understand the challenges of our modern healthcare system, including access to healthcare, complex insurance issues and heightened demand for services.

Kim Bland, a graduate of the DNP program at NMC, started an outpatient palliative care clinic. 

Read more: Four Reasons Why More Nurses Are Earning a DNP Than Ever Before

The DNP Application Process

Application Requirements:

The BSN to DNP requirements at NMC are:

  • A Bachelor of Science in Nursing from an accredited college or university.
  • A grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in the bachelor’s of nursing program.
  • Current RN licensure. 

To be considered for admission to MSN to DNP and APRN to DNP programs, you must meet the following criteria:

  • A Master of Science in Nursing from an accredited college or university.
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale in your nursing program.
  • Current RN licensure.

Applicants must also fill out an online application, provide a resume or curriculum vitae, have official transcripts sent, write a personal statement and complete an interview with nursing faculty members.

Application Timeline:

Classes for DNP programs at NMC begin in the fall. 

The priority deadline is February 3 and the final deadline is July 1. It’s beneficial to complete your application early to claim your seat in the program.

Preparing Your Application

You’ll have to submit a written statement when you apply to a DNP program at NMC. 

Your personal statement is an opportunity to share who you are and why you are applying to the program.

Writing a Strong Personal Statement:

Your personal statement is a crucial component of the application process, so taking the time to plan, write and edit is important.

NMC provides writing prompts for the DNP personal statement. The written statements should be 250 to 400 words and written in APA style. 

Use these tips as you write your personal statement:

  • Before you begin the writing process, brainstorm your ideas and write an outline.
  • Make sure you've addressed all of the questions asked in the writing prompts.
  • Get spelling and grammar assistance with resources like Grammarly.

Should You Get a DNP What You Need to Know Before ApplyingChoosing the Right DNP Specialization

Overview of Specializations:

Choosing a DNP specialization allows you to develop skills in a specific area and create a career focus.

The DNP tracks offered at NMC are:

  • BSN to DNP - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • BSN to DNP - Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • BSN to DNP - Adult Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • APRN to DNP
  • MSN/MHP to DNP - Public Health Policy

Factors to Consider:

When choosing a track, you should consider your career goals, interests, nursing experience so far and market demand.

Career Opportunities by Specialization

Family Nurse Practitioner:

The family nurse practitioner track allows you to gain the knowledge, skills and clinical experiences necessary to diagnose and treat patients of all ages. 

As a family nurse practitioner, you’ll be able to prescribe medications and treatment options.

You’ll have opportunities to work in hospitals, clinics, urgent care, home healthcare, facilities for veterans, colleges and universities, elderly care facilities and more.

Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner:

In the adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner track, you’ll learn to develop, implement, assess and advance new practice approaches for healthcare delivery to post-adolescent patients.

Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist:

A clinical nurse specialist is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) with specialized education and training in a specific area of nursing practice. 

Clinical nurse specialists often take on an educational role, for both patients and fellow healthcare professionals. They may develop and implement educational programs, mentor staff nurses and contribute to the advancement of nursing knowledge and practice.

Clinical nurse specialists can assume leadership roles within healthcare organizations. They advocate for policy changes, legislative efforts at the state, local and national levels, help lead quality improvement initiatives for the unit or system levels, and they provide implementation of best practices to enhance patient care.

Read more: Five Reasons to Become a Clinical Nurse Specialist 


Nursing has evolved at a tremendous rate in recent years and there are more opportunities for nurses with doctoral degrees.

A DNP program for APRNs will differ from your master’s program. The APRN to DNP program focuses on the specifics of population care. The advanced concepts you learn will equip you to fill demanding healthcare leadership roles while you simultaneously carry out the nursing practice you’ve committed yourself to throughout your career.

Read more: APRNs: Why The Time is Right to Earn Your DNP

DNP - Public Health Policy:

Those who pursue careers in public health policy become experts in evidence-based practice to influence policy and public health initiatives.

You’ll serve as a mentor, teacher, consultant and researcher to be a change agent to improve public health programs, develop new programs and coordinate care.

For those who have a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Master of Public Health (MPH), this path allows you to deepen your knowledge of public health and take on leadership roles.

Financing Your DNP Education

Before you apply to a DNP program, you’ll want to know what your financial investment will be.

At NMC, the cost per credit hour for the DNP programs is $850. The programs can be completed in 24 to 36 months, depending on the program you’re enrolled in.

To learn more about the cost of your education at NMC, find your program and use the cost of attendance calculator.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial assistance for a nursing doctorate can come from various sources, including NMC, the Methodist Hospital Foundation, federal and state governments, private foundations, employers and more.

DNP students may qualify for the Diverse Nurse and Men in Nursing Education Faculty Scholarship or Federal Work-Study.

Qualifying Methodist Health System (MHS) employees may be eligible for a 20% tuition discount for the Master of Science in Nursing program at NMC. Learn more about NMC’s Corporate Learning Partner program.

MHS also offers the Tuition Assistance Program to eligible employees who attend NMC. You’ll receive up to $3,500 a year in tuition assistance if you’ve worked for MHS for at least six months at a minimum of 16 hours per week prior to the beginning of the semester.

Return on Investment

Salaries for DNP-prepared healthcare professionals vary based on field of work, geography, specialty and experience. 

The median annual salaries in 2023 for nursing careers that require doctoral degrees were:

  • Health policy director: $159,000
  • Nurse practitioner: $129,480
  • Clinical nurse specialist: $90,450

The median annual salary for a nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing was $81,220 in 2023.

How Nebraska Methodist College Supports Your DNP Journey

Online graduate students at NMC receive a high level of support from faculty and staff.

Small class sizes offer more personalized attention from faculty. 

Students can schedule virtual meetings with NMC’s librarian for assistance researching a topic, writing in APA style and more. 

NMC’s Center for Research, Education and Teaching Excellence (CREATE!) provides students with help navigating Brightspace, the online learning platform used by the College.

“I am grateful for the supportive faculty at NMC. They really want their students to succeed and will help however they can,” said Aisha Washington, an NMC DNP graduate. “I've had several faculty for multiple classes, so they know me by name. I didn't feel like another number. I felt like my professors knew me.”

The faculty-to-student ratio for DNP students’ doctoral scholarly project is one faculty member for every four to five students. The same faculty member works with the student throughout the 13 months of the project, from concept to dissemination.

“Faculty are very knowledgeable and supportive to students. Throughout the process of the doctoral scholarly project, they were present and engaged to guide me along the way,” Douthett said.

Read more: Why You Should Choose NMC for Your DNP

Start Your DNP Journey with Nebraska Methodist College

Getting your Doctor of Nursing Practice at NMC allows you to get a high-quality education from skilled faculty while balancing work and your personal life.

Ready to apply to NMC’s DNP program? Fill out an application today or contact an admissions coordinator at or (402) 354-7200.

Topics: Family Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing Practice, nurse practitioner

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