There is no getting around the fact that earning a Doctor in Nursing Practice (DNP) is hard work. They are challenging and you will need to invest significant amounts of time, money, and effort to achieve the qualification. A DNP qualification is not suitable for everyone, and you must have a clear understanding of what will be involved before you start researching programs or enroll in a course.
That said, there are dozens of benefits to completing a DNP degree. Nurses who complete DNP programs are highly regarded in the healthcare industry and enjoy excellent salaries and fantastic career opportunities. DNP programs are also designed to equip registered nurses with the skills and expertise to advance into leadership roles. You will have the opportunity to take on additional responsibilities in the workplace and enjoy greater flexibility and freedom. This makes a DNP qualification a wise investment for any nurse hoping to excel in their career. The idea of starting a DNP course can seem daunting, and it is natural to feel anxious. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to prepare for the course and plan for success. With that in mind, here are some top tips for students enrolling in DNP programs:
Understand what will be involved
If you are considering enrolling in a DNP program, then you must have a clear understanding of what will be involved. A DNP is the highest clinical nursing qualification available. DNP programs involve intensive training and assessments. They are designed to produce leaders in nursing, and you will need to work hard to pass the course. You must know what will be expected of you and determine that you have the skills and knowledge to keep up with the workload and deadlines. You can learn about DNP programs by visiting authoritative sites like NurseJournal.org. You could also approach students enrolled in DNP programs to gain a realistic view of the course and what is involved. Remember that earning a DNP requires significant time and money, so make sure that it’s the best option for you before you enroll in a course.
Research different DNP programs
Once you have determined that you want to earn a DNP, you should start researching different DNP programs. There are hundreds of courses available, including campus-based and online programs, as well as full-time and part-time courses. When researching DNP programs, make sure that you consider important factors such as course fees, cost of living, location, and reputation of the school. You should also look for a course with experienced faculty members and low drop-out rates. Take the time to research various DNP programs and choose a course that will suit your lifestyle and learning preferences.
Explore the benefits of an online DNP
Studying for a DNP qualification online is a popular option, especially for nurses who are already working or have families to care for. Online DNP programs offer the same learning and career outcomes as campus-based courses, but they allow much greater flexibility. When you enroll in an online DNP, you will have the freedom to pick your learning schedule and learn at your chosen pace. This makes online courses ideal for registered nurses with work or family commitments. Another advantage of online DNP programs is that they tend to be more affordable than traditional courses. You won’t have to worry about relocating or spending money on travel and commuting costs. It is worth considering the benefits of earning a DNP online via distance learning instead of attending a campus-based program.
Explore different funding options
Earning a DNP is expensive, and it will cost between “$21,318 and $38,912 for an MSN-DNP and between $40,953 and $74,752 for a BSN-DNP,” – according to a study by doctorofnursingpractice.org. You will need to consider how you are going to fund a DNP. Fortunately, there are many different funding options to support DNP students. Many nurses apply for a student graduate loan to pay for DNP programs. There is also a good selection of grants and scholarships (both merit-based and needs-based) available to help cover the cost of DNP programs. Take the time to explore different funding options and apply for any financial aid that is available to you. If you are employed as a nurse, then you should speak with your manager to see whether they would consider funding your DNP degree.
Organize your study schedule
You should start preparing as soon as you enroll in your chosen DNP program. Read through the course syllabus carefully and make a note of key assessments and coursework deadlines. You must get organized early and create a clear study schedule that will guide your learning. This is particularly important if you have enrolled in an online DNP course as you will have a more flexible course structure. Think carefully about when you will complete your learning tasks and allocate time to your studies each week. Try to plan your learning at a time when you are most productive, e.g., first thing in the morning if you’re a morning person or during the evenings if you’re a night owl. Make sure that you keep all of your learning materials organized and stored securely. Sticking with a study schedule will help you remain productive and focused on your learning activities. It will also help you stay on track and stop you from falling behind with your studies.
Design a productive learning space
Your study environment will have a significant impact on your learning and overall academic performance. You must create a productive learning space that will keep you engaged and motivated. This is especially important if you are considering online DNP programs and plan to complete learning tasks from home. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple ways to create a productive learning environment at home. Here are some tips to help you design your ideal learning space:
- Invest in quality office furniture like a solid desk and an ergonomic chair – what you use and where you study can make a huge difference to your productivity.
- Make sure that you have all of the tools needed to complete learning tasks e.g., reliable internet connection, laptop, course books, stationery, etc.
- Remove potential distractions such as televisions and smartphones.
- Keep your learning space clean, tidy, and clutter-free.
- Choose a study environment that has lots of natural light. Try to limit the use of artificial light like fluorescents, as this can cause headaches and eye strain over time.
- Pick a location that is quiet and politely ask family members and housemates not to disturb you when you are studying.
- Use house plants and other natural elements to make your learning space more soothing and relaxing.
Complete a variety of nursing placements
Work experience is equally as important as qualifications in the nursing profession. You must be able to demonstrate a certain level of experience, especially if you are hoping to secure a leadership position. Most DNP programs include clinical placements as part of the course. That said, it’s a good idea to build as much experience as possible by applying for other internships and work experience opportunities. If you aspire to become a nurse leader, then search for placements where you will learn from seniors nurses. For instance, you could shadow a senior nurse in a hospital or volunteer to assist a nursing manager on a busy ward. Completing a wide variety of placements will help you stand out from other DNP graduates and land a top nursing role. Internships will also give you the chance to learn more about the industry and expand your professional network. Check out this article for guidance on how to apply for nursing internships.
Create a study group
DNP programs are hard work, and you should reach out for support from your peers and tutors. Creating a study group can be a great way to get support with your studies and boost your morale and focus. Joining a study group can enhance your learning and boost your academic performance. If you are attending a campus-based DNP course, then get a group together and arrange to meet up in your college library or another quiet location. You can revise together, discuss course topics, and quiz each other to test your skills and knowledge. Experts at Educationcorner.com recommend that study groups should be between four and six people. If the group is any bigger, then you may struggle to concentrate and share ideas effectively. You can still create a study group if you choose to enroll in an online DNP. Make an effort to connect with your peers using communications apps like Facebook Groups and college platforms. You can use Skype and instant messaging apps to communicate with your peers and plan virtual meet-ups.
Avoid “cramming” before exams
“Cramming” is a common term used by students. It refers to studying intensively to try and absorb large quantities of information. This is usually right before an exam or assessment. Cramming is a common study technique that might help you pass an exam, but it will not benefit your learning long-term. The danger with cramming is that you learn a piece of information short-term but can’t retain this information long-term. Besides, cramming typically leads to feelings of stress and tiredness, especially if you stay up late trying to memorize as much as possible before an exam. Sacrificing sleep for study time will affect your performance on exam day and lead you to feel drained and lethargic.
A far better approach is to plan your study schedule so that you have plenty of time to revise before an exam. Get an early night the day before your exam and find ways to relax and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. It is also important to take regular study breaks to relax and recharge. Ideally, you should plan a short break every hour and more frequently if you start to feel tired or overwhelmed by your learning tasks. Use your study breaks to exercise, get some fresh air, or have a nutritious snack. You will be much more productive if you take regular study breaks and avoid doing too much learning in one go.
Follow a healthy lifestyle
DNP programs are challenging, and the course can take a toll on your physical and mental wellbeing. You must take good care of your health while studying and follow a healthy lifestyle. This should include doing the recommended amount of exercise each week, eating three balanced meals a day, and avoiding too much sugar and salt in your diet. It is also essential that you get enough sleep each night and get into a consistent sleep routine. Following these simple steps will help you stay healthy and happy while studying for a DNP degree.
Schedule relaxation time
DNP students as busy, especially those who are trying to balance learning with work and other commitments. However, you must make relaxation a priority, regardless of how busy you are. Failing to take the time to relax can lead to high stress and burnout. This will harm your health and learning performance over time. Ideally, you should schedule a couple of relaxation hours into your daily schedule. Find activities that help you de-stress and unwind. Some calming activities to try include listening to music, chatting with friends, and soaking in a warm bubble bath. Going outside and spending time in nature can be another effective way to relax and recharge while studying for a DNP.
Completing a DNP is a huge undertaking, so you must check that it is the best option for you. DNP programs are intensive, but they can lead to many great rewards. One of the major benefits of earning a DNP qualification is that you will have a higher earning potential and will be able to apply for leadership positions. Completing a DNP qualification can be a fantastic way to advance your skills and progress in your nursing career. The above tips will help you plan for success and thrive while studying for a DNP qualification.