There was a time when, to most people, the word “doctor” was interchangeable with “physician.” If you made a doctor’s appointment, you would see a physician.
Today, a visit to a doctor could mean you’ll have an appointment with a nurse. Nurses are earning Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees in record numbers, which allows them to have an expanded role in patient care.
Nurses can get their Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) 100% online in 36 months.
Why should you pursue your doctorate now? With fewer barriers, more demand, a changing healthcare industry and more doctoral offerings, more nurses are taking the doctoral path.
1. Fewer Barriers for Nurses to Earn Doctoral Degrees
One of the major reasons more nurses are earning their doctorates is because they can.
For many years, nurses have been able to get doctorates that focused more on theory than practice. But now, nurses can earn a practice doctorate because nursing advocacy groups are working closely with state legislatures to remove some of the restrictions that have historically been placed on nurses.
For the greater part of the 20th Century, nurses were unable to practice without the oversight of a physician. Now, in many states, nurses have full and partial practice authority.
Without restrictions, doctors of nursing and their respective practices have flourished, providing exceptional patient care to those who traditionally would have visited a physician for almost every medical issue.
2. More Demand for Advanced Practice Nurses
The increase in nurses getting Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees is also due to the demand, both by employers and the communities that nurses will ultimately serve.
Healthcare costs are going up, and the aging Baby Boomer generation will require additional services at local hospitals and clinics. To meet this demand, master’s and doctorate-prepared nurses have stepped up in a big way.
Hospitals across the country, particularly in areas that face a dramatic shortage of healthcare personnel, are hiring nurses with a DNP in record numbers. In addition, patients who have experienced the care of these nurses have gone back repeatedly. They truly appreciate the level of service that they’ve gotten from nurses, and that care sometimes comes at a lower cost.
Nurses have never been the type to wait for an opportunity. Certified and credentialed nurses have opened their own clinics to serve patients better, work to the full scope of their practice and be their own bosses. Some of our very own graduates have taken the DNP route and had immense success.
3. More Career Options Beyond Practitioners
A Nurse Practitioner is the most traditional role for advanced practice nurses, but there are more opportunities for nurses with doctoral degrees.
At NMC, there are four tracks for Advanced Nursing Practice.
NMC’s nursing doctorate program offers five tracks:
- 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
In addition to practice-focused positions, hospitals and other organizations always seek nurses to fill chief nursing officer roles and other executive and cabinet-level positions.
Many nurses have found a new passion for the profession by teaching and directing programs at nursing colleges across the country.
Others harness data to improve outcomes through the use of informatics.
The breadth of what a nurse can do now is greater than at any time in history. And once nurses get into these positions, they’re able to transform healthcare in a monumental way that benefits the patient and opens an organization’s eyes to the power of holism.
4. Healthcare Models Have Evolved
Due to the Affordable Care Act, reimbursement models within healthcare institutions are moving toward a value-centered structure where previously they relied on volume.
Perhaps no one is better positioned to meet this challenge than nurses. Nurses work with patients regularly, checking in on them and seeing firsthand the challenges they experience. Their interactions can mean the difference between a successful recovery or a return to the hospital. They know the minor and major things that can be done to improve a person’s odds.
It should be no surprise that nurses have stepped up as they have. Their knowledge from the frontlines of healthcare is unparalleled. They understand not just the technical aspects of their jobs but the intricate systems at work in a hospital system and the interpersonal dynamics that can shape an entire organization. Most importantly, they know patients.
Is it any wonder that nurses provide an answer to expanded healthcare, increasingly complex insurance issues, and heightened demand for services? They’ve provided answers for as long as nursing has been a profession.
The doctorate signifies the culmination of not just one individual’s years of hard work, but all that’s been accomplished over decades by nursing leaders who were able to alter the landscape of healthcare.
That work continues today, with nurses earning their terminal degrees in record numbers.
How to Apply to Get Your DNP
Getting your Doctor of Nursing Practice degree at NMC allows you to get a high-quality education from skilled faculty while balancing work and your personal life.
You can find the online application for your desired program on the nursing doctorate program page.
You can explore graduate school financial aid opportunities such as employer tuition assistance, scholarships, work-study and loans.