The world of nursing is constantly in flux. Innovative technologies and evolving health care laws can create ripple effects in care delivery, while acute issues such as public health crises can cause disruptions to routine processes. These challenges must be met head-on to ensure high-quality patient care.
This is why effective nurse leadership is so crucial. Nurses in senior positions, such as nurse practitioners, can help a facility’s nursing staff navigate these changes and integrate care delivery innovations into their health care strategies.
Becoming a nurse leader requires deep knowledge of health care and care delivery strategies and well-honed leadership skills. One of the best ways to develop this foundation is by earning a terminal degree such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.). Doing so can open the door to high-paying job opportunities, but there’s more to the role of a D.N.P.-prepared nurse practitioner than salary. Becoming a D.N.P. affords the unique opportunity to make a profound impact on health care delivery — and on patients’ lives.
D.N.P.-Prepared Nurse Practitioner Salary
Nursing is as demanding as it is rewarding and can offer a high level of compensation. One of the many factors that affect nurses’ salaries is education level.
As of May 2021, PayScale reports that the median annual salary for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) degree was around $86,500, while for those with a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) it was about $96,000. Those with a D.N.P. had a median annual salary of around $104,000.
Higher salaries often reflect the positions that nurses fill; several advanced roles, such as nurse practitioner, require a minimum of a master’s degree.
Nurse Practitioner Careers with a D.N.P.
Individuals with a D.N.P. can choose from a wide array of career paths. The knowledge and skills developed through a D.N.P. program can be applied in many ways, from guiding the administration of a health care facility to preparing the next generation of nursing professionals.
Nurse educators teach and train prospective nursing students to give them the foundational knowledge and skills associated with quality health care delivery. Those in the role often design and evaluate their own curriculum, which combines academic learning in a class environment and hands-on clinical experience.
Nurse educators typically continue their own education to remain current with health care innovations and government regulations. Because of the unique interactive nature of the role, it’s essential for nurse educators to have strong interpersonal, presentation, critical thinking and organizational skills in addition to leadership competencies. PayScale reports that the median annual salary of nurse educators was around $77,000 as of May 2021.
Those in nurse researcher roles use their analytical skills to study the elements and materials of health care to create and improve medications, treatments and patient care delivery. Nurse researchers typically focus on a specific element of health care, such as disease or pharmaceuticals. The sources they use to gather data can include medical journals, patient observations and results of previous studies.
Nurse researchers document their findings through reports, presentations and journal articles. Strong analytical skills, organizational skills and detail orientation are essential for the nurse researcher role. Good writing and communication skills are critical to report research findings clearly and unambiguously. According to PayScale, the median annual salary of nurse researchers as of May 2021 was approximately $81,500.
Director of Nursing
Directors of nursing oversee all aspects of a health care facility’s nursing unit. They are directly involved with the nursing staff, supervising the hiring, training and development of nurse personnel. They also guide the implementation of new procedures and policies, and work to ensure legal compliance with government regulations.
Additionally, directors of nursing may develop business plans and nursing budgets. Along with strong leadership skills, directors of nursing have solid communication and critical thinking competencies, well-developed analytical skills and the flexibility to adapt to unique situations. PayScale reports that the median annual salary of directors of nursing was about $92,000 as of May 2021.
Hospital Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Hospital chief executive officers oversee all aspects of a health care facility’s daily operations, including hiring staff, implementing clinical procedures, complying with government regulations, guiding financial strategy, maintaining the facility’s culture and developing solid relationships within the medical community. They work closely with other C-suite executives and department leaders.
A hospital CEO establishes a facility’s strategic vision in a manner that optimizes care delivery, operational efficiency and public outreach. To do this effectively, they must possess strong leadership, analytical, technical and financial skills, along with fundamental clinical competence. Additionally, they must have well-developed interpersonal, communication, problem-solving and critical thinking skills. PayScale reports that the median annual salary of hospital CEOs was approximately $154,000 as of May 2021.
Chief Nursing Officer (CNO)
Chief nursing officers are nonclinical C-suite executives who oversee the nursing staff’s administration. While they don’t directly interact with patients, their duties impact a health care facility’s operational strategies, including work that indirectly impacts patient care. Some of these duties include managing nursing budgets; overseeing nurse recruitment, hiring and development; building new patient services; and representing a facility’s nursing department at board meetings.
CNOs collaborate with the hospital CEO to integrate their duties into a facility’s overall growth and stability strategies. CNOs must possess a foundation of clinical competence, as well as solid leadership, financial, analytical, communication and problem-solving skills. According to PayScale, the median annual salary of CNOs as of May 2021 was around $134,000.
What Are the Other Benefits of Earning a D.N.P. Degree?
While higher earning potential is certainly one of the advantages of a D.N.P., it is far from the only benefit. Because earning a D.N.P. opens a wide range of career options, nurses can focus on a specific element of health care that aligns with their interests. This could mean a specific type of health care facility, such as a hospital, urgent care clinic or long-term care facility, or specializing in an area such as research or education.
A D.N.P. can enable an individual to gain a position of influence that will allow them to help shape the health care landscape. Their combination of leadership skills and an extensive knowledge of care delivery can give them a platform to address national concerns about patient care, advocate for tech-driven care concepts such as electronic health records (EHRs) and AI, or focus on issues of equity.
D.N.P. graduates can also influence the future of health care as mentors, helping prepare the next generation of nurses. This is particularly critical in light of the ongoing nursing shortage; support and mentorship can affect nurse morale and retention.
Make an Impact on a Critical Field
A D.N.P. isn’t just a terminal degree, it’s a sign of your ambition to make a tangible impact on the evolving world of health care. The University of North Dakota’s online Post-Master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program can help you develop the knowledge and skills you need to make a difference in health care, in the present and for the future. Learn how UND can help you build a remarkable career.