The key difference between a nurse practitioner (NP) and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the academic level achieved by each individual. As a qualified NP, you can take up nursing as a career and maybe choose to take on further studies. A DNP is a terminal qualification, meaning that it is the highest academic level that can be reached in the nursing profession. In order to become an NP, you’ll need to have qualified as a registered nurse (RN) and spent time in the role gaining experience. Once you’ve gained an NP, you can take a DNP to advance your career.
How long does it take to study for these qualifications?
If you are a registered nurse, an NP qualification can be obtained after two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study. Should you wish to move on to a DNP, it will take another one or two years of full-time study or three to four years of part-time study to complete. At Wilkes, the online DNP program’s 30 credits can be studied for at a time to suit you. You can take the qualification over two years and enjoy the support of a student success advisor throughout your program.
What is an NP?
As an NP, you can opt to work in a range of locations. You could take a job in a hospital, a clinic, or a physicians’ office, or you might choose a role as a school nurse. You will be qualified to deliver all kinds of primary care to your patients, along with certain types of specialized care. Therefore, you’ll be involved in helping to diagnose a patient, as well as providing their treatment and offer advice. In many states, NPs are also able to write prescriptions. This is all done independently, without requiring consent or agreement from a physician.
More about being a DNP
A DNP is one of the doctorate degrees available to people working in the field of nursing. The other is a Doctor of Nursing Philosophy or a Ph.D. in Nursing. As a practicing degree, it offers clinical experience and real-world training in specialist areas of medicine and healthcare. The DNP is a solid pathway for people in the nursing profession who want to move into the higher levels of their industry. As a DNP, you are likely to work in various healthcare and administrative environments. These might include leadership positions in hospitals, educational roles in university faculties, and advisory work in health advocacy organizations.
Which role is right for you?
Nurses are in demand and if you are happy with the ample job opportunities provided by your NP qualification, there may be no point in continuing to a DNP program. However, people who put in the extra years of study for a DNP will qualify for managerial and leadership positions. These could feel more rewarding and will usually provide a higher income.