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The doctor of philosophy (PhD) in nursing is one of the highest degree levels a nurse can achieve. The program is best suited for registered nurses (RNs) seeking an advanced degree that focuses on research in a clinical, academic or scientific environment. RNs with a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) or a master of science in nursing (MSN) qualify for entry into programs such as the BSN-to-PhD or MSN-to-PhD option. Nurses who have attained a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) qualify for the DNP-to-PhD option.

Post-master’s doctor of nursing practice (DNP) programs are designed for master of science in nursing (MSN) prepared registered nurses (RNs) looking to take their nursing career, leadership skills, and clinical expertise to the next level. Programs focus on preparing experts in advanced nursing practice, with opportunities in clinical practice, leadership, and policy. Curriculums incorporate the eight essential competencies set by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) including:

If you are a registered nurse (RN), and have earned a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), you are eligible to apply for a post-bachelor’s doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. Post bachelor’s DNP programs are known as the BSN-to-DNP pathway. These programs are designed for BSN-prepared RNs who desire to complete their master of science in nursing (MSN) and DNP degrees in a specialty area.

A doctor of nursing practice (DNP) is at the top of the degree ladder. Per the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago, this terminal degree is designed to provide additional knowledge and skills so that nurses may further enhance the health and well-being of the individuals and communities with whom they work. The curriculum builds on current master’s programs and provides education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems thinking.

Diabetes remains the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, with more than 330,000 diabetes related deaths in 2015 alone. More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, with an estimated 1.5 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed among people ages 18 and older in 2015. This growing epidemic has created a high demand for diabetes nurses that is higher than ever before.

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) that assess patients, determine the best way to improve or manage their health, and discuss ways to integrate health promotion strategies into a patient’s life. They serve as primary and specialty care providers, delivering advanced nursing services to patients and their families. Many nurse practitioners specialize in a specific population of people. For example, NPs may work in psychiatric and mental health, pediatric health, or adult and geriatric health.

Per the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), nursing informatics (NI) is the science and practice (that) integrates nursing, its information and knowledge, with information and communication technologies to promote the health of people, families, and communities worldwide. Informatics nurses work in a variety of roles including chief nursing officers, developers of communication and information technologies, researchers, policy developers, educators, chief information officers, software engineers, implementation consultants, policy developers, and business owners.

Nurse educators are registered nurses (RNs) that teach patient care in classroom and clinical settings to nursing students. They teach at colleges, universities and professional schools as well as junior colleges, technical and trade schools and hospitals. Some nurse educators work for business schools and in computer and management training. With so many options, many RNs see nurse education as a career with wide-ranging possibilities.

Every year, about 42.5 million American adults suffer from some mental illness. This is nearly 18.2 percent of the total adult population or nearly one in five Americans. Even worse is, approximately 9.3 million adults, or about four percent of those Americans ages 18 and up, experience “serious mental illness.” This is illness that impedes day-to-day activities such as going to work. Because of the dramatic rise in mental illness, the demand for nurses skilled in psychiatric-mental health is greater than ever before.

There are several paths to becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP). Two of the most common are a master of science in nursing (MSN) with a FNP specialization and an MSN with a FNP certificate. Either path qualifies graduates to sit for the certification exam administered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) or the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). If successful, newly certified FNPs can expect ample employment opportunities and an increase in pay.