Pros and Cons of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Doctor of Nursing Practice

Most nurses don’t need a DNP in order to land the job they want, but some nurses decide to get one anyway. Whether they want to advance their career or the job they’re seeking requires one, nurses that earn their Doctor of Nursing Practice will benefit from it in many aspects. There are, however, some disadvantages that should be taken into consideration before you make your decision.

Pros of Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice

#1. Higher Salary

Once you graduate with your DNP, you’ll see a salary increase even if you keep your same job. While your salary does depend on where you work, years of experience, and the job that you do, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average DNP graduate salary is over $123,000 annually. 

It is worth noting that this is the average across several different job titles. Nurse practitioners with a DNP will likely earn less than certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), for example.

#2. Help Fill a Gap

Every nurse has heard of the ongoing nursing shortage at this point, but that’s not the only shortage happening. Nurse educators are becoming harder and harder to come by as the older generation ages out. Without enough nurse educators to train new nurses, nursing programs have been limited and many qualified students have been turned away. 

With your DNP, you can help fill a gap in the nursing program. You’ll help train new nurses and share your valuable knowledge with the next generation. To take on this role, though, you’ll need to have a DNP.

#3. It May Become a Requirement

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) has mentioned before that they would like to make a doctorat the minimum requirement for advanced practice nurses. While this has not yet been implemented, it’s very possible that it will become the requirement by 2025.

Many nurses may scramble if and when this requirement is enforced, but if you already have your DNP, then you don’t need to worry. You’ll already have completed the highest level of education possible and while other nurses worry, you can continue your practice as before.

#4. Gain Confidence and Knowledge

As a terminal degree, you’ll learn just about everything you can know about nursing by the time you complete your DNP. With this valuable knowledge in hand, you can move forward confidently in your practice. You’ll have all the inside knowledge possible and will not only have more confidence in yourself, but also in your patient care abilities and healthcare expertise.

#5. More Career Opportunities


When you have a DNP, you have a lot more career choices available. Leadership roles and job titles such as healthcare lobbyists, nurse educators, and nurse researchers are all things you can do once you graduate. You can also take on other hands-on roles such as CRNA, nurse midwife, or pain management nurse.

Many nursing jobs don’t require a DNP, but if you want to work in a leadership position or specialize your practice, a DNP will often be a requirement, if not a preferred qualification.

#6. More Independence

Nurses with a DNP are capable of opening their own practice, allowing for much more independence. Your DNP will help you stand out from others and reassure patients that you are an expert in your field. 

Even if you aren’t interested in opening your own practice, a DNP can help you land jobs that allow for more independence. CRNAs, for example, are able to work completely unsupervised.

#7. It’s an In-Demand Credential

While nurses of all types are in high demand, nurses with a DNP are especially sought after. With their ability to take on more leadership positions, work in more advanced practices, and be more independent, many healthcare organizations seek out nurses with DNPs in order to facilitate the influx of patients that they receive.

Cons of Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice

#1. It’s Expensive

Higher education in general is very expensive and, unfortunately, earning your DNP is no exception. There are BSN to DNP programs as well as MSN to DNP programs that will help expedite the process, but you’ll still find yourself paying anywhere from $9,000 to over $13,500 per semester.

There are many scholarships and grants available that you may be able to take advantage of, but unless you’re exceptionally lucky, they won’t come close to covering the costs of your education. Earning your DNP is expensive, but some nurses feel that the benefits are worth it.

#2. It Takes a Long Time

Any post-graduate degree will take quite a while, but for many nurses, the time it takes to earn a DNP is way too long. After your BSN, you must complete your advanced practice degree before you meet the education level requirements. Depending on your field, you may need to complete a specific number of clinical hours before you can apply for a DNP program. The DNP program itself usually takes 5 semesters to complete.

#3. Research Oriented

For those who don’t enjoy research or want something that’s heavily focused around clinical work, a Doctor of Nursing Practice is not for you. As part of the degree requirement, you’ll need to complete a research assignment. While you will focus a lot of time on your clinical skills, you will spend quite a bit of your time completing research and writing.

Consider Your Options

Nurses with their DNP will benefit greatly from it, but the timeline to earn the degree can often stretch on endlessly and eliminate their precious little free time. There are many specialty programs and training that may be more beneficial and less time consuming, but they won’t have the weight that a DNP does.

If you do decide to earn your DNP, you’ll be able to take advantage of the many benefits that this terminal degree gives you. With a higher salary, better job opportunities, and more independence, many nurses find that the degree is worth the work and pays for itself. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of this degree as only you know what’s best for your career.


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