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How Having a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Can Help Nurses Affect Healthcare Policy

The American healthcare system is evolving rapidly. The need has never been greater for advanced practice nurses with doctoral training and critical thinking skills to advocate for positive policy changes in patient care across the healthcare industry.

In 2011, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing called for more than 200,000 advanced practice nurses to hold doctoral degrees by 2015. Walden University, an accredited institution offering a suite of online nursing degree programs, answered this challenge by developing a multifaceted Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

How Having a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Can Help Nurses Affect Healthcare Policy

You Can Affect Healthcare Policy With a Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree

With an online DNP degree from Walden, advanced practice nurses like you will be ready and fully qualified to mentor the next generation of nurses and fill leadership roles as healthcare policymakers and advocates in a broad spectrum of public and private healthcare settings at the national, regional, state, county, and local levels.

A sampling of key positions available to nurses with a DNP includes:*

  • Healthcare policymaker
  • Healthcare advocate
  • Chief nursing officer (CNO)
  • Nurse administrator
  • Manager of informatics
  • RN director or manager
  • Clinical instructor

According to ADVANCE, in 2012 approximately 70% of nurse practitioners with doctoral degrees held a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. That same year, DNP nurses earned $97,452—the highest average annual salary among nurse practitioners.

Distinguished Faculty of Scholar-Practitioners

Walden’s School of Nursing features an eminent faculty of more than 100 scholars and professionals, 100% of whom hold doctoral degrees. Academically and experientially qualified to teach at graduate and undergraduate levels, they blend academic theory with firsthand knowledge to enrich your learning experience and broaden your perspective on the latest issues and best practices in the field of nursing.

Comprehensive Doctoral Coursework

Our Doctor of Nursing Practice online nursing degree program covers a range of topics, including:

  • Healthcare policy and advocacy
  • Quality improvement
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Information systems/technology
  • Advanced nursing practice
  • Organizational and systems leadership
  • Fieldwork participation that helps you apply your learning in a real-world environment

Doctor of Nursing Practice Degree Online Curriculum

The following course examples illustrate how Walden’s DNP program curriculum helps prepare graduates for leadership positions in healthcare policy, quality, and advocacy.

Healthcare Policy and Advocacy Course

Many economic, financial, and political factors influence the delivery of healthcare, making healthcare reform a challenging task. In this course, students examine these factors and challenges and consider policy reform through legal, regulatory, ethical, societal, and organizational contexts. They examine the political and policy process, including agenda setting, stakeholder analysis, and application of policy analysis frameworks. Students also explore the importance of interprofessional collaboration in improving health outcomes through the policy process and advocacy for development and implementation of nursing and healthcare policies in organizations at the local, state, national, and international levels. Students engage in written analyses through which they develop new policies and critically evaluate existing policies though policy analysis frameworks.

Evidence-Based Practice Courses

Under the guidance of an approved clinical mentor, the process developed with these three practicum research courses is documented in the DNP student’s keystone doctoral study.

  • Evidence-Based Practice I: Assessment and Design
    Students focus on the competencies required of the healthcare professional in planning for the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of health promotion and disease prevention initiatives.

  • Evidence-Based Practice II: Planning and Implementation
    Students focus on planning and implementing a program/project design to address their clinical/practice questions; students complete work under the guidance of an approved clinical mentor.

  • Evidence-Based Practice III: Project Implementation, Evaluation, and Dissemination
    Students focus on evaluation and dissemination of a program/project design to intervene with clinical/practice questions under the guidance of an approved clinical mentor.

Start Advancing Your Career Today!

With your online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, your unique qualifications will open doors at the highest levels of your profession, giving you the power to fill positions of change-making leadership in healthcare advocacy and policymaking.

Walden University, an accredited institution, has been serving the higher education needs of adult learners for 45 years. Today, more than 47,800 students from all 50 U.S. states and more than 150 countries are pursuing their bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees or certificates online at Walden.

Explore Walden University's online bachelor’s and graduate degree programs for nurses and change your future faster! Earn your doctoral degree in nursing at a pace that fits your life and schedule.

*Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

†ADVANCE for NPs & PAs, 2012 NP & PA Salary by Academic Degree, on the Internet at (viewed online May 29, 2015).

Walden University’s DNP, MSN, and BSN programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, D.C. 20036, 1-202-887-6791. CCNE is a national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate and graduate education programs in preparing effective nurses. For students, accreditation signifies program innovation and continuous self-assessment.