Home > Should You Take Your Nursing Career to the Doctorate level?

Should You Take Your Nursing Career to the Doctorate level?

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On March 29, 2018

Nursing is the kind of career that people usually enter into for the long run. One of the many facets of a career as a nurse that appeals to many applicants is the ability to progress through the nursing ranks at your own pace. There is never any pressure to advance from one nursing level to the next. If the individual nurse doesn’t feel ready to progress, or feels they are already in the perfect position, then they can simply stay where they are.

On the other hand, some nurses enter into the field with the intention of progressing up to the highest echelons. At the doctorate level and above, nursing becomes much more focused on training the next generation and developing skills, techniques, and knowledge which benefits the entire profession.

Those who are most passionate about nursing may well wish to pursue it up to the doctorate level. But that isn’t to say that those who choose not to are any less committed to their work.


Deciding to pursue any doctorate is a major decision. Most of the time, in order to attempt a doctorate level course, students need to already have an undergraduate level degree. In the case of nursing, there are even more stages to complete before the doctorate level. If you want to specialize you will need to undertake relevant training and, in some cases, might even need to obtain a new degree before being able to specialize.


If you are still trying to decide whether to achieve the highest level of nursing studies and pursue your doctorate, then the following guide is for you. Here, we take a look at some of the key benefits of working at the highest levels of the nursing profession.


Help Train Future Generations

As nurses’ graduate through the ranks and take on more senior positions, they also take on more responsibilities for the junior nurses coming up behind them. Every nurse can remember what it’s like when they first begin, how scary and overwhelming a hospital is at first. It is therefore usually second nature to guide the newer and more junior nurses through the beginning of their careers.

Nursing is a profession that tends to attract those who care about others, so while new nurses may be overwhelmed, they will usually find that they are welcomed. As you progress through your own nursing career, you will hopefully find that you develop the same impulse to help with training and guiding the new recruits.


Nursing in itself is a uniquely rewarding career. But when you begin to get involved in mentoring and training other nurses, the job will take on new dimensions and you will find new sources of pride within it.


Be at the Forefront of Current Practice

Like all medical fields, nursing is constantly evolving. Current practices are constantly subject to review. We generate a gargantuan amount of data related to health care every day, in every hospital. There are researchers in a number of fields who are interested in analyzing this data and using it to inform standard protocols.

With the benefit of vast amounts of data, we have been able to develop much more rigorous procedures. Both general hospital management, and individual patient care, have benefited from analysis of data.


Studying for a doctorate of nursing means that you can be directly involved in this kind of research. Once you’ve completed your degree, you will then be responsible for staying up to date with subsequent developments. As a nursing leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that the nurses working under you and alongside you are following the latest procedures.


Research Opportunities

After earning a DNP degree, nurses will be able to apply for some of the most exciting research posts available. Your doctorate is your chance to demonstrate the kind of nurse leader that you want to be. You can then use subsequent research opportunities to build upon the subject of your doctoral thesis.

This is another example of the ways in which a DNP degree positions nurses to take the lead in shaping the future of the profession. As you undertake more research projects, you will become increasingly valuable to other research projects. Before long you will be in a position to propose your own research projects and pursue the subjects that are of most interest to you.


One of the great benefits of undertaking research, both for you and for the institutions you work for, is that you will sharpen the skills most necessary to assess performance on a ward. The same techniques that researchers use to collect and analyze data can be turned to quantifying the performance of a ward.


Study at Your Own Pace

Nurses are free to rise through the ranks at their own pace and on their own terms. Unlike most professions, applying for promotions as a nurse requires that you study for the relevant degree qualification. Being able to choose when you progress means that there is less pressure on you.

Nurses are free to take as long as they please, and wait as long as they like, before moving on from their current level. Now that there are a number of universities offering online nursing degrees, career progression is available to any nurse who wishes to pursue it.

Additionally, online nursing degrees can be studied part time, meaning that those with other commitments can still pursue progression. Online degrees tend to be cheaper than their campus counterparts, removing another potential obstacle for some nurses who wish to progress through the ranks.


If you want to know more about the DNP, and what an online DNP curriculum might look like, check out – https://onlinenursingms.com/doctor-of-nursing-practice/


Be a Leader

Leadership is a rare and valuable quality. In high stress and high stakes environments such as hospitals, it is crucial that confident leadership is in place. If you decide that you want to pursue the most senior nursing positions then you need to be prepared to lead properly.

Your confidence and competence will have an impact on the way that nurses under your charge perform. You will need to be able to strike the delicate balance between helping nurses to improve by highlighting errors, while encouraging them with praise.


Being an effective leader isn’t easy. If it was, leadership would not be the coveted attribute that it is. Poor leadership can result in otherwise talented and dedicated nurses severely underachieving. When nurses aren’t being led properly, it is patient care that suffers.

Nursing is a very rewarding profession at all levels. You do not need to chase the doctoral level in order to undertake valuable and rewarding work. However, for those nurses who want to obtain the most senior roles and qualifications, the DNP degree is what they will need.


Senior nurses are responsible for upholding standards, ensuring that protocols are followed, and that patient care is never compromised. If you think that you would like to take on the responsibilities of a senior nurse, and you are confident in your ability to lead, teach, and inspire those around you, then you should consider pursuing a DNP degree.


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Last modified: December 4, 2018

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