HealthJanuary 03, 2017

5 reasons DNP execs are uniquely qualified to lead

A look at what makes DNP executives so special.

Today’s health system leaders are responsible for a lot of big-ticket issues: quality of care, safety, patient satisfaction, and cost containment, just to name a few.  The complexity of the work is at an all-time high. Who is qualified to steer a health organization through such dynamic and demanding times?

Doctor of nursing practice (DNP) executives, that’s who, according to a pair of DNPs writing in a recent issue of Nursing Management. Brad Sherrod, DNP, RN, an assistant professor at Chatham University, Pittsburgh, and Tamara Goda, DNP, ANP-BC, a senior administrator at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC, write that graduates of DNP programs focused on executive leadership are especially qualified for leading roles in healthcare systems.

In fact, they go as far as to suggest a doctoral education is not simply a luxury but a necessity for health system leaders in this day and age.

“The redesign of healthcare models and delivery systems requires leaders who are prepared at the doctoral level,” they write, “to sustain and lead the change required for us to be successful.”

What makes DNP execs so special? Here are a few qualities Dr. Sherrod and Dr. Goda point out in their piece.

1) DNPs can turn evidence into action

DNP executive leaders have a head for evidence and the know-how to use it to better an organization’s patient care and, ultimately, its value-based compensation, according to the authors.

“Through translational research activities and a command of the literature, the DNP-prepared leader can link evidence-based practice to direct care and develop action plans to improve quality, patient safety, and patient satisfaction outcomes,” they write. “Strategic efforts regarding clinical improvements through resource utilization are critical in today’s healthcare environment.”

DNP executive grads, according to the article, are trained in identifying and solving clinical problems, developing new care models and standardizing practice across healthcare teams. It’s what they do.

2) DNPs have an appreciation for technology

DNP executives have an understanding of the value of information technology (IT) and how it promotes  evidence-based practice, the authors explain. As a result, they can be early adopters of IT. They continue that DNPs are well positioned to promote its purchase and are knowledgeable of ways to use IT to promote high-quality care in the health system.

“For example, the use of individual provider scorecards and service line-specific dashboards can assist organizations in the creation of quality incentives to reward provider behavior and participation in healthcare processes,” they write. “The application and widespread use of telemedicine and remote monitoring moves us toward healthier populations and avoidance of costly hospital care.”

3) DNPs know how to advocate

DNP executives are not only system leaders, but they are also leaders in affecting local, regional and national healthcare policy, according to the article.

“Leaders emerging from DNP programs have the knowledge and understanding to advocate for change within the state and federal healthcare arenas,” the authors observe.

Along similar lines, DNP execs understand how to partner with state, national and specialty organizations to promote health and prevention, they continue.  They know how to seek funding through research and grants.

In short, DNPs are personally and professionally equipped to partner with the right players for the betterment of their health system and the people it serves.

4) DNPs have a multidisciplinary view

Another perspective gained in DNP executive programs is a practical understanding of the workings and need for multidisciplinary care. In a system’s universe of providers, DNPs know who does what, and they know the right stakeholders and experts to pull onto various teams for the betterment of patient care, according to the authors. What’s more, they know how to lead them.

“The project management skills learned through DNP education,” they write, “are critical to healthcare leaders.

5) DNPs represent for nurses

Nursing practice benefits when DNPs are at the helm because these leaders have the skills and knowledge to advance the nursing profession.

“The DNP-prepared leader acts as a change agent, possessing the skills and ability to advance nursing within the area of healthcare administration,” the authors write.

When DNPs execs are at the helm, nurses and multiple others gain, according to the authors. Call it a win-win-win-win-win.

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