Advanced Nursing Careers: Areas to Specialize in on Your DNP

Nursing is a wonderful field to work in. You get to help people every single day and make a genuinely positive difference to your local community. Not only that, but you can enjoy high levels of employability and job security because it is an area in which there will always be a demand for skilled workers.

For those who wish to take their career to the next level, there are also plenty of opportunities to continue learning and developing their abilities. 

One of the most advanced pathways to take as a nurse is to study for a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, or DNP. This qualifies you for some of the highest job roles in the industry.

However, to think of it as just one program is a mistake, as there are actually various specialist tracks you can take during your studies. This enables you to focus on the aspects of nursing which you are most passionate about, and find a career that truly matches your goals.

Advanced Nursing Careers Areas to Specialize in on Your DNP

Not sure which to choose? Here’s an overview of some of the main specialisms to help you out.

Family Nurse Practitioner

Also known as an FNP, a family nurse practitioner is an advanced direct care nursing role that involves providing primary care to patients across their entire lifespan.

Your duties will include conducting assessments and diagnostic testing, treating a wide range of medical conditions, as well as educating people about healthcare issues and disease management.

The latter might include promoting healthy eating and regular exercise or teaching patients how to cope with chronic medical conditions. Many FNPs also choose to focus on working with underserved communities.

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Online midwifery programs train you to provide women-focused healthcare services in a range of settings from hospitals to birthing centers. In addition to assisting women when they give birth, the role also involves many aspects of gynecological and preventive care. You’ll work with women throughout their pregnancy, as well as provide care during the postpartum phase.

This involves conducting physical examinations, diagnosing and treating health conditions, and advising parents-to-be on a number of relevant issues. Many nurses midwives also provide care to women who are going through menopause.


If you love working with children, choosing a specialist track in pediatrics could be ideal. You’ll focus on providing primary care to children of all ages, covering a broad range of acute and chronic health conditions.

Some of the tasks involved in the role include providing immunizations, conducting diagnostic screenings, treating diseases, and advising kids and their families on various relevant issues such as healthy living.

Pediatric nurse practitioners can work anywhere from clinics and hospitals to schools, and will need plenty of patience as well as a positive attitude! Other key skills include communication and the ability to make intimidating medical procedures seem less scary.


At the other end of the age spectrum, geriatric nurses specialize in providing care to elderly patients. Due to the aging population in the US, this is a role that is likely to become increasingly important in the coming years. It involves not only caring for the physical health of senior citizens but also focusing on their mental capacities and emotional wellbeing.

A key part of the job is helping elderly people to maintain their independence and high quality of life for as long as possible.

You’ll focus on health conditions that are most likely to affect older people, such as arthritis and dementia, and could work in hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, or even visit patients in their own homes. Patience and positivity are both necessary traits to excel in this field.

Executive Nurse Leadership

If you have high ambitions and would prefer a role with less hands-on clinical work, it would be well worth considering a course with an executive nurse leadership track.

This trains you for jobs in the business side of healthcare, focusing on everything from finance and management to human resources. After qualifying, you will be able to help both patients and your colleagues by making improvements to the way that your workplace is run.

Some key skills you’ll need are of course leadership, but also communication, decision making, critical thinking, problem-solving, and organization.

Mental Health

Mental health and wellbeing is an issue that’s becoming ever more important, and consequently can be a great choice for your DNP specialism. Focusing on psychiatric care will prepare you to diagnose and treat patients of all ages and backgrounds with both medication and therapy.

You will be able to help people with a wide range of mental health conditions such as OCD, anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, addiction, and psychosis.

In this field you can be employed in settings as varied as hospitals, mental health clinics, veterans’ facilities, and prisons, working with patients both in groups and individually.  

Health Policy

This is a unique field in which you can combine your nursing expertise with a passion for law and politics. This track prepares you to advocate for patients, lobby lawmakers to improve healthcare legislation, and also develop healthcare policies of your own.

After graduating you could work for a think tank, research organization, nonprofit organization, or local and national government agencies. It’s a great choice for those who want to move away from clinical care and instead focus on making a genuine change to the nursing profession as a whole and healthcare on a larger scale.

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Nurse Educator

Choosing a DNP program that prepares you to become a nurse educator is perfect for those who are interested in teaching the next generation of nurses. You’ll focus on learning how to pass on your knowledge and clinical skills to nursing students who are either just starting out or are more experienced and looking to continue their professional development.

In addition to teaching, you will learn how to design curriculums, evaluate students, and use technology in a classroom environment. You might also oversee students during their clinical practice or go on to write textbooks that are used across the country.

To succeed, you’ll need to be passionate about staying up to date with all the latest developments in nursing, as well as being a good motivator and role model to those you teach.

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