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The Role of DNP Prepared Nurse in Hospitals of the Future

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Today’s healthcare providers face exciting and challenging new developments — including restructurings in healthcare systems, changes to Medicare and Medicaid, different approaches to hospital debt, changing patient expectations, and advancing technology.


Hospital professionals deliver care to people in need, and they must evolve along with the communities they serve. By earning an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), nurses can help lead the way in envisioning the future of hospitals.


What will future hospitals look like, and how will they operate? What roles will DNP-prepared nurses play, and what competencies will they need? How will today’s medicine adjust to new technology and tailor services to patient needs and desires? How will the hospitals of the future make strides toward accessibility and effectiveness? These questions and more will shape the future of the medical industry.


Healthcare changes occur at a rapid-fire pace, and the industry continues to boom, with 13% job growth projected from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Professionals with advanced skill sets, including DNP-prepared nurses, are stepping up to play an important role in the innovation of healthcare.

Typical Role of a DNP-Prepared Nurse in Healthcare

The roles and responsibilities of DNP-prepared nurses can vary depending on their specialization and work setting. Typical duties of a DNP nurse include the following:


  • Clinical Work: DNP nurses often work directly with patients as nurse practitioners (NPs), diagnosing illnesses and injuries and prescribing medications and treatment plans. NPs tend to work in hospitals, private practices, or clinics.
  • Leadership: With their advanced educational backgrounds, DNP nurses may have the knowledge and resources to be great leaders. They may manage teams of healthcare professionals, such as nursing teams; manage budgets; develop new policies; and oversee patient care from an administrative angle.
  • Research: Medicine needs evidence-based practices. DNP nurses can help by conducting research studies to test the effectiveness of healthcare policies and create the knowledge base needed to improve health outcomes. In research roles, DNP nurses tend to work in academic settings, research institutions, or healthcare organizations large enough to support a research branch.
  • Education: DNP nurses may also become teachers to future nurses. They may teach nursing courses, mentor new nurses, and develop and guide nursing curricula at universities and colleges around the country.

What Are Hospitals of the Future?

A push for value-based healthcare will influence many aspects of future hospitals, including alternatives to traditional inpatient facilities. As part of this general trend, more hospitals are likely to introduce smaller facilities (called “micro-hospitals”) with more focused services, same-day surgery centers, and freestanding emergency rooms that are easier to navigate and that can nimbly and swiftly respond to medical emergencies.


This shift to alternative facilities may reduce costs and improve access to care in some regions of the country. If you’re a DNP nurse who works at a micro-hospital or “neighborhood hospital,” you’re part of an important trend. A report from Goldstein Market Intelligence forecasts that the global market for micro-hospitals will grow at 6.1% a year through 2030. Emerus, a top U.S. operator of micro-hospitals, has numerous joint venture partnerships with major hospitals and health systems and has developed 39 such facilities around the country.


The hospitals of the future will also be “smart hospitals”: They’ll be more digitally connected to a broader healthcare ecosystem that includes other providers, diagnostic services, insurance carriers, and patients. These smart hospitals are also expected to rely more on advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, genomics, and telehealth platforms to deliver care more precisely and with better outcomes. In smart hospitals, “automated procedures and devices replace certain human activities in a range of care settings, freeing up the staff to spend more time on direct patient care,” as McKinsey & Co. notes.

New Trends for Future Doctors of Nursing Practice

The medical professionals of tomorrow must adapt to an exciting future, and the role of DNP nurses is essential. Compassion remains one of the core characteristics of their profession, but emerging healthcare professionals must gain new competencies that speak to the demands of the modern marketplace.


As hospitals change, providers need to be well versed in how to implement technology, communicate across a variety of platforms, and deploy data science expertise. The latest trends in the field calling upon these skills include the following:

Digital and AI Technology

AI has already introduced many positive changes into healthcare, and that trend will continue. For example, hospital systems collect a massive amount of data, indicating a growing need for AI to step in and take care of analysis. The huge uptick in data requires more effort to compile and analyze it than humans unaided by technology can comfortably shoulder. Today, hospitals use AI to automate these tasks, and they likely will continue to do so in the future as they collect even more data. AI can also examine X-rays and CT scans, and even serve customers directly through digital consultations.


Large medical centers in major U.S. cities have pioneered AI in healthcare. This technology has already automated many basic tasks, freeing up the role of DNP nurses so they can spend more time with patients. New tools, like apps that provide patients with digital consultation, empower users to navigate the system and gain insight into their own health.

The Rise of Value-Based Care

If you’re a DNP-prepared nurse or plan to earn your DNP degree, you’ll likely experience a shift in how care is perceived. The rise of value-based healthcare has reorganized the hiring landscape in hospitals. Future hospitals that adapt to the practice of value-based care will emphasize patient satisfaction and improved health outcomes instead of the number of individual services provided.


Value-based care helps reduce medical costs and improve quality of care, allowing patients to experience a more transparent process. This process is closely aligned with the inherent value system of many who enter the healthcare system, with a focus on helping others and leading with compassion.


As a result, the field needs more highly educated healthcare workers with more robust people skills. Already in high demand, experienced and highly trained DNP nurses will likely see a greater need for their abilities in coming years. In fact, the BLS predicts 46% growth for nurse practitioners and 28% growth for medical and health services managers between 2021 and 2031.

How the DNP Curriculum Prepares Graduates

The DNP curriculum prepares graduates for numerous opportunities in the rapidly growing field of nursing.


The curriculum typically focuses on advanced nursing practice, leadership, and research. Here are some ways in which Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice (BSN to DNP) curriculum prepares graduates:


  • Learn Advanced Nursing Practice: The DNP curriculum provides advanced training in clinical practice, with a focus on evidence-based practice, patient safety, and quality improvement.
  • Develop Critical Thinking Skills for Nursing: Students learn to diagnose and manage complex health problems and collaborate with other healthcare professionals in providing advanced nursing care.
  • Become a Leader: The DNP curriculum emphasizes leadership skills, including management, communication, and decision-making. Students learn to lead healthcare teams; manage scarce medical resources, such as personal protective equipment (PPE); and develop policies and procedures that improve patient outcomes.
  • Gain Research Skills: The DNP curriculum prepares graduates to use research to inform clinical practice and healthcare policy. Students learn to evaluate research studies critically and effectively, design their own nursing research projects, and conduct research as a part of a health research team.
  • Foster Interprofessional Collaboration: The DNP curriculum emphasizes the importance of collaboration in healthcare. Students learn to work effectively with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, pharmacists, and social workers, to provide comprehensive patient care.


Put simply, the DNP curriculum prepares graduates for leadership roles in healthcare by providing advanced training. Graduates leave the DNP curriculum equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to improve patient outcomes and embrace the future of the DNP role in healthcare.

Shape the Future of Hospitals and Healthcare

As the healthcare system becomes increasingly innovative, professionals and patients alike are likely to see changes. Hospitals of the future, with their emphasis on patient-centered care that leverages technology, will need well-educated professionals who can lead the way.


If you’re called to create a profound impact on the lives of patients in the modern world of healthcare, consider advancing into a DNP nursing role. This is your opportunity to put patients first and lead with compassion in a cutting-edge field.


Maryville University offers nursing degree programs that embrace the future of hospitals and healthcare as a whole, including an online BSN to DNP program and an online Doctor of Nursing Practice program, both of which offer nurse practitioner concentrations. Discover the breadth of Maryville’s online programming and how it can help you prepare for your own future in the exciting world of healthcare.


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