The Contributions DNP-Prepared Nurses Make to Educational Leadership

The Doctor of Nursing Practice in Educational Leadership doesn’t just prepare you to become an educator; it’s the DNP track nurses get into when they want to gain the nuanced perspective and knowledge needed to blaze trails and become innovators in nursing education.

This DNP track is relatively rare, but all of them have something in common: they are led by some of the top nursing educators in the nation.

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DNP programs are practice-focused degrees, so a DNP track in educational leadership is really about teaching nurses the art of being effective teachers and doesn’t spend a lot of time on educational theory. The track is designed to create capable, competent leaders who are proficient enough in the unique skills being taught to today’s nurses that they can confidently present that material themselves, both in the classroom and in clinical settings.

Like other DNP tracks, educational leadership programs have an overreaching goal of improving healthcare and patient outcomes. These programs essentially present students with a question: How can I inspire the next generation of nursing professionals to provide outstanding patient care using evidence-based practice strategies?

How to Become an Educational Leader in Nursing

Unlike PhD degrees that tend to focus on the theoretical underpinnings of nursing education, the DNP is focused more on improving how nursing training is implemented to improve student outcomes and advance the practice of nursing.

You’ll encounter a curriculum that’s focused on enhancing teaching strategies, while teaching you how to develop curricula yourself and assess student understanding of the material you present.

This is a degree focused solely on preparing you to educate future and practicing nurses, so you will find it offered as a post-master’s option rather than as a BSN-DNP. Some programs accept students without a nursing master’s, giving consideration to MPH, MEd, and MHA holders, although you may need to complete additional coursework before you can begin the DNP if you hold one of these degrees.

The DNP in Educational Leadership consists of between 40-45 credits and a curriculum that’s designed to satisfy the AACN’s DNP Essentials and provide in-depth study into best practices in nursing education. A DNP project and specific clinical immersions are also embedded in these programs. Many of these programs are offered partially or entirely online to accommodate working nurses.

Some of the courses unique to a DNP in Educational Leadership include:

  • Facilitation of Learning in Nursing Education
  • Nursing Program Development and Educational Leadership
  • Role of Technology and Simulation in Nursing Education
  • Organizational Dynamics of Higher Education

In addition to preparing students to become educational leaders in both college lecture halls and clinical training environments, the educational leadership track also prepares graduates to think outside the box and to bring innovative ideas to workforce development initiatives, nursing education partnerships, and more.

Salary Expectations for Nursing Education Leaders

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the most accurate salary stats for nursing educators throughout the nation. According to a May 2019 BLS report, the average, annual salary for nursing educators was $74,600, with the top 10% of these professionals earning an average of $133,460.

The top-paying industries (according to annual, mean salary) for nursing educators during this time were:

  • General medical and surgical hospitals: $121,180
  • Psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals: $93,650
  • Business schools: $86,720
  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $83,240
  • Junior colleges: $75,430

The top-paying states (according to annual, mean salary) included:

  • Washington D.C.: $157,560
  • Florida: $122,050
  • California: $101,930
  • New York: $97,750
  • Connecticut: $97,350