What Kinds of Nursing Careers Require a Doctoral Degree?

Just as is the case with many professions, nursing offers career paths that are open to practically anyone who wishes to advance. Further, if there is a silver lining to the continued nursing shortage that this country has experienced for the past few decades, it’s the fact that there will probably be plenty of room for career advancement for years to come. One of the conditions, however, is the requirement that those who aspire to these positions have the education needed to perform the jobs. And for some of those jobs a doctoral degree is the required ticket.

Career Paths

Nurses generally follow four paths in their career. Those three are practice, administration, research, and teaching. As wide open as all of these fields are, those with graduate educations have the greatest numbers of opportunities for those who wish to pursue them. It is also important to note that these opportunities are sure to increase with the skyrocketing growth that we are currently experiencing thanks to the aging of the baby boomer generation and the dramatic increase in healthcare regulations.

Working From the Bottom

Many of those who enter the nursing profession do so for the one on one patient care aspect. As anyone who has done this job can testify, there are plenty of challenging opportunities at this level for more than one career. On the other hand, anyone who aspires to the higher level of the healthcare profession an advanced degree is required.

For nurses who wish to enter the leadership levels of their profession either an MSN or a doctoral degree is required. These credentials will allows you to enter advanced clinical, administrative, or teaching levels of their occupation. These degrees are normally the Ph.D. or DNS for research or DNP for practice.

Accelerated Options

A number of educational institutions have streamlined their programs to allow students to streamline the pathway to their career of choice with baccalaureate to doctoral degree programs. This also allows students who are motivated to directly into the advanced career of their choice with greater focus. It is also for this reason that nearly all of these programs require a full time student status.

Ph.D. Degree Option

The Ph.D. degree is available primarily for those who wish to enter the research or educational aspects of the profession. Graduates of these programs either teach or conduct research into new areas of the nursing sciences. Nurses with these degrees are also responsible for conducting new advances for others to follow in their career pursuits.

DNP Degree Option

As much as most nurses want to advance in their careers, most of them also wish to continue working one on one with patients and other healthcare providers. For these nurses who wish to increase their skills at this level is the DNP degree. The DNP degree is also of great value to those who wish to advance in the practice of their nursing specialty.

It is probably common knowledge by now that the nursing profession has been seriously understaffed for years. It is still one, however, that requires the knowledge to do the job, and for that the required education is needed.