Choosing a DNP Specialty

Choosing a DNP Specialty

If you’re ready to earn a clinical doctorate degree to further your advanced nursing career, your next big decision is what specialization to choose.

A few questions to ponder:

  • Are you interested in moving into a nurse leadership position, like Chief Nursing Officer? Consider the Executive Leadership specialization.
  • Do you love teaching other nurses? Have you been teaching for a while and wish to move up the ranks at your college or university, perhaps as a dean or director? Consider the Educational Leadership specialization.
  • Have you been an advocate of technology in healthcare—and more recently, worked in nurse informatics—and want to spearhead the effort to lead your hospital or other healthcare organization into the 21st century? Consider the Informatics Leadership specialization.
  • Are you open-minded about where you want your career to go, but know that whether you end up in informatics, hospital leadership, or academia, you want to lead?  Consider the Professional Leadership specialization.

Here at American Sentinel University, we offer four distinct specializations of our Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. All four programs are practice focused and incorporate implementation science, which means that students are able to apply what they learn in the area of practice in which they work. Here’s an overview of these specialty tracks as you weigh this decision:

  • DNP, Executive Leadership – This specialization equips nurse leaders with the skills needed to move into executive roles in healthcare systems. Typical students include those managing a unit in a hospital setting or directors of nursing programs at colleges or universities who are in an administrative role. This degree is also a good choice for leaders who wants to further their education in business intelligence, healthcare finance, strategic leadership and planning, and quality improvement.
    • 12 required core courses
    • 2 elective courses
  • DNP, Educational Leadership – This specialization prepares faculty, program directors and deans for nursing education leadership positions. It covers all aspects of academia. Students learn about the dynamics of higher education, simulation technology, learner-centered curriculum design and outcomes, and assessment of learning, among other topics. Those teaching already looking to move into academic leadership positions or those who aspire to teach in online, brick-and-mortar or hybrid nursing programs would find this program to be a good fit.
    • 12 required core courses
    • 2 elective courses
  • DNP, Informatics Leadership – In today’s healthcare landscape, technology is king. Gone are the days of paper charts and inefficient communication between healthcare organizations and the patients they serve. The industry has seen an influx of nurse informaticists—and leaders whose job it is to enhance health care delivery through the use of data and information. Nurses with informatics experience or technology-based nurse management experience might choose the informatics leadership specialization to help them reach a role such as Chief Nursing Informatics Officer.
    • 12 required core courses
    • 2 elective courses
  • DNP, Professional Leadership – This specialization is for the individual who wants an all-around focus on leadership at the doctoral level. This “custom” specialty lets you choose seven courses from any of the other three DNP specializations to create a degree program that fits your goals and needs. This program exposes students to a wide base of knowledge in healthcare and nursing.
    • 7 required core courses
    • 7 elective courses

When choosing your DNP specialization, think about your current role and your goals for the future. The DNP can help you make a positive impact on patient care, health policy, quality improvement, and more. And by specializing further, you can hone your focus on the area of practice where you wish to be an expert.

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