(BPT) – The health care industry has evolved since a series of sweeping legislative reforms began to take effect in 2010. New policies and regulations, millions of new patients and the introduction of advanced technology have added pressure to an already complex system. As this transformation continues, health care leaders are keeping an eye on how the system is functioning to ensure these changes fuel improved health care delivery.
The health care system is comprised of teams working with and among each other within the same “universe.” The core of the health care universe is the patient, and the group of people working directly with the patient to provide care – from friends and family to nurses and physicians – is called the “microsystem.” In recent years, this microsystem has become the focus of much research and discussion, as its successful function directly impacts the delivery of care.
A new revolution toward these improvements is being led by Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) with doctor of nursing practice (DNP) degrees. Nurses with this advanced level of education have the knowledge to understand and apply research in the clinical setting to provide greater patient safety and continuous quality improvement.
“Doctorally prepared nurses are at the core of a revolution in health care,” says Dr. Carole Eldridge, director of graduate programs for Chamberlain College of Nursing. “By applying research to solve problems, these nurses are reducing costs and increasing health care quality, which in turn improves patient outcomes and transforms health care delivery.”
Chamberlain offers a DNP degree program focused on clinical practice and implementing solutions within the patient microsystem. The post-master’s professional degree program is designed to give experienced nurses the advanced education necessary to assume leadership roles in health care.
APRNs with DNP degrees are becoming increasingly valuable to employers, and the degrees are bringing these nurses rewarding career options and, in some cases, higher salaries. In fact, nurse practitioners with DNP degrees earn on average $7,316 more annually than those with master of science in nursing degrees.
This trend illustrates the expanding role nurses play within the health care system. The Institute of Medicine recommends nurses become full partners with physicians and other health care professionals in redesigning health care in the United States, according to its 2010 report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” As the largest segment of the nation’s health care workforce, nurses are uniquely positioned to drive the quality improvements necessary for its successful transformation.
Where an associate degree in nursing was once the standard for registered nurses, a bachelor of science in nursing degree is quickly becoming preferred, if not required, by employers. Similarly, as the health care universe grows and becomes more modernized, industry leaders will look to APRNs with DNP degrees to increase efficiencies and lower costs within the microsystem.