Getting to the top level of nursing puts you in an interesting place. You’ll have two options for taking your education forward. Though they might seem similar on the surface, they’re very different. Understanding how they differ could help you to identify the best fit for you.
What you need
First, consider what you’ll need to get on one of these courses. In both cases, you’ll need a master’s degree in nursing, clean nursing licenses, extensive clinical experience, and a TOEFL or IELTS assessment if English is not your first language. For a Ph.D., however, you will also need to provide a written statement describing your research goals, and you’ll need to find a faculty member who can supervise you.
The work involved
A Ph.D. it’s primarily focused on research, and there’s no such requirement. In a DNP, the focus is on practical skills, which means you’ll need to put in at least 1,000 hours of clinical practice. If you compare DNP to Ph.D. students, you’ll find that the latter spend much of their time working from home. Indeed, online Ph.D. courses are available at Wilkes University, which is much more practical for people based in remote locations and with domestic care responsibilities. Ph.D. students do, however, have to be good self-starters.
What it takes
DNP and Ph.D. programs can be taken on either a part-time or a full-time basis. As a rule, the former takes one to four years and the latter between three and six years to complete. A Ph.D. requires completing a dissertation, and getting to grips with this early on is important to stay on top of the work. A DNP, meanwhile, is less flexible and can be quite physically demanding but works well when it can be fitted in with your day-to-day working practice.
What you’ll qualify for
DNPs are centered on building up leadership skills and practically advancing nursing quality, so they’re an excellent choice if you see yourself running a department someday or if you want to lead in designing and developing clinical trials. PhDs focus more specifically on academia and are ideal if you want to do more theoretical work or move into a career with a heavy focus on research.
The good news is that graduates of both types are currently in high demand, but it’s usually slightly easier to find employment with a Ph.D. in leaner times. What’s more, you get to keep your qualified status with a Ph.D. for the rest of your life, whereas a DNP needs to be renewed every five years and tends to lapse if you stop working or take a break (for instance, if you want to raise children). Overall, however, DNPs lead to higher salaries.
With both qualifications offering great prospects, there are many good reasons to take the plunge – make sure you choose the one that will work best for you.