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Thoughts

While investigating advanced nursing degrees so as to begin work as a nurse practitioner (NP), potential students will find both DNP and Ph.D. programs. In the most general terms, the DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice, is a clinical practice degree while the Ph.D., or Doctor of Philosophy, in nursing, is a research-focused degree.

In terms of completing every degree, the requirements can differ greatly. In obtaining a DNP, students must complete a clinical project, which demonstrates intimate knowledge of evidenced-based practices. Ph.D. programs, however, most often have a focus on original research and research methodology, which results in a final research project and defense of a dissertation. Also, DNP involves statistics and theories while Ph.D. involves thoroughly faculty-guided research projects (May, Littzen, Morrison, & Loescher, 2020).

If I decide to continue with my education to the doctoral level, I would pursue a DNP in nursing. This is because the DNP is focused on advancing an understanding of nursing practice. The curriculum also emphasizes both clinical and leadership skills. This transforms the healthcare system. The program is useful in health care improvement and advances specialty practice. DNP also provides part-time studies for working nurses thus providing time to work and study at the same time. Nurses with high practice levels on DNP are on demand according to AACN (American Sentinel University, 2014). A recent survey from ADVANCE for Nurse Practitioners magazine found that NPs with a DNP degree earned an average salary of $96,807 per year, making them the highest paid nurse practitioners surveyed. Nurses with PhDs tend to make slightly less than those with DNPs, with an average salary of $95,577 per year (RegisteredNurse.org., 2020). This has led to the certification of more DNP programs. This makes DNP nurse practitioners the highest paid. Nursing practitioners with DNP work directly with patients in hospitals and clinics, unlike Ph.D. nurses who are more focused on the academic world. DNP program length is shorter, requiring 2-3 years, unlike Ph.D. programs that take 4-5 years.