Why Do Some Nurses Choose to Complete Their Education?

Why Do Some Nurses Choose to Complete Their Education?

Registered nurses are well paid, highly needed, and overworked professionals who hardly have time for anything else other than their job. Things ease up a bit after you complete your MSN and assume a comparatively advanced position with better pay. Nevertheless, a nurse’s life is always busy as that is a big part of the job responsibility that comes with becoming a medical professional.

Despite all that, a small percentage of experienced nurses will still choose to complete their nursing education when they are ready to do so. For those wondering, DNP courses “complete” a nurse’s education because there simply is no higher form of education in a specific field of nursing than the DNP. So, why is it important for experienced nurses to complete their education and get a doctorate?

As you should be able to guess, there are no trophy certificates in the medical field because people in this line of work are simply too busy, while the courses are far too expensive. Nurses pursue a doctorate program because the ensuing qualifications can bring about positive changes, directly related to the betterment of their career. As to what those positive aspects might be, we will discuss them in detail next.

Pay Boost

The salary scale varies even for DNP qualified nurses. It depends on your field of specialization, your geographic location, and your employer. Even then, if we were to compare the national (US) average salary received by nurses with similar experience but different qualifications, it would look something like this:

  • Mean annual pay for experienced Registered Nurses (RN) without advanced degrees: about $67,500/year
  • Mean annual pay for Registered Nurses (RN) with an MSN degree: about $97,000/year
  • Mean annual pay for Registered Nurses (RN) with a DNP degree: about $107,000/year

If you pick your specialization carefully, the difference will be much more significant. At the same time, the wrong doctorate program may not be able to meet your financial expectations.


On an average, Chief Nursing Officers (CNO) receive a salary of $135,000 + $11,000 (shares) + $23,000 (Bonus) per year. Perhaps more importantly, they get to bring about positive changes to the healthcare units under their leadership. Since becoming the CNO is pretty much equivalent to being on the highest rung of the corporate ladder as a nursing professional, you will need a doctorate degree and substantial field experience to even be considered for the position. If you are already well on your way to gaining the necessary field experience, consider joining one of Baylor University’s CCNE-accredited, online DNP nursing leadership courses. You can find out about the necessary qualifications for joining the different DNP nursing leadership courses on the linked website.


As a qualified and certified nurse practitioner (NP), you will be able to operate with full practice authority (FPA) in twenty-two US states, two US territories, and of course, within the capital (Washington D.C.) itself. Full practice authority allows an adequately qualified and nationally certified nurse practitioner to diagnose and treat patients without any need for a physician’s presence or permission and prescribe diagnostic tests and controlled medication to their patients.

Essentially, a nurse practitioner with an FPA should be able to act as a general physician without legal prohibitions of any manner. Although most FPA states only require applicants to have a graduation degree (MSN-NP) and a national certificate in nurse practitionership, your chances of getting approved for full practice authority will increase substantially if you have already completed your doctorate (DNP) degree.

On top of that, a doctorate degree will inevitably garner more attention and tip the scales in your favor each time you apply for a position in any hospital or healthcare clinic as an NP. Understand that whether a nurse practitioner is working in a state with full practice authority, reduced practice authority, or restricted practice authority, they will get paid more and be considered for higher prospects on having a DNP on their resume. The national average income across all states for highest paid nurse practitioner’s specialties is as follows:

  • Average salary of a psychiatric nurse practitioner: about $112,500/year
  • Average salary of an acute care nurse practitioner (ACNP): about $105,000/year
  • Average salary of an Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP): about $102,000/year
  • Average salary of a NP in general: about $100,000/year
  • Average salary of an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP): about $100,000/year
  • Average salary of family nurse practitioner (FNP): about $98,000/year


Now, it should be noted that credentials hold extreme importance in a field as delicate as healthcare, The qualifications of a nurse here are more than just a way for them to boost pay and open more professional opportunities. The credentials in this field certify the fact that the nurse in question has the necessary knowledge, training, and experience to help their patients in a greater capacity.

Given that a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is pretty much the highest possible credential than any nurse can get in a specific field of healthcare, it is not surprising that experienced nurses seek to complete their education. It enables them to not only help their patients better, but also to put more weight behind their suggestions to other medical professionals, including doctors. Even the doctor in charge will usually take the word of a veteran DNP nurse more seriously than the words of a young resident.

By now, it should be clear as to why some of the more experienced nurses complete their professional education. A doctorate degree will almost always boost their income, professional prestige, job opportunities, leadership opportunities and employment opportunities in general. However, there is one more reason that we need to consider in 2022. All stats indicate that more nurses have been looking to complete their DNP in the last three to five years than ever before.This is a direct result of online education gaining greater acceptance and popularity within the healthcare community. It’s not as much about the pandemic, as it is about improved quality of online education. Healthcare professionals are not at liberty to sit at home and avoid the pandemic. However, the flexible design of online courses has enabled nurses to seek higher education even when their schedule is chaotic, and they cannot afford to take a break from working.

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