The Doctorate in Nursing is an advanced degree in clinical nursing. In the United States, both the DNP and the PhD are considered to be one of the two highest doctorate degrees in clinical nursing, alongside the Master's degree.
Nurse Practitioners work under the supervision of registered nurses and perform a variety of tasks in the care of patients with various illnesses and injuries. In fact, they may treat patients as their own, even treating patients themselves. This means that nursing schools often offer the Doctorate in Nursing degree in place of a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in order to provide students with hands-on experience in patient care and nursing education.
The clinical nurse specialist (CNS) is not just any nurse who specializes in the care of patients. It is not uncommon for CNSTs to be licensed and have prior training and licensing to practice in a particular area, including physical therapy. However, this does not necessarily indicate that they are experienced in the field of nursing and should not be employed by hospitals or other organizations that need to hire nurses who are certified.
A Doctorate Level Clinical Nursing (DLCLN) is also sometimes offered by many nursing schools. Although it is not necessary to become a registered nurse before taking this program, many nurse practitioners prefer to be board-certified upon graduating from a Master's program or Doctorate level clinical nurse specialist program, and are able to continue to practice in the areas of nursing which they are most interested in. An LCLN, however, can be useful to those already working in the field of clinical nursing and who wish to specialize in the areas of geriatrics, family medicine, etc., as long as they hold a Masters degree.
There are several accredited Doctorate level clinical nurse specialist programs in the US, and these vary in the specific areas in which they cover. Some programs will focus exclusively on geriatrics, others on cardiology, and some on pediatric nursing. Some programs even specialize in one or two areas of nursing (which can also be offered as an LCLN). It is important to make sure that the program being attended is accredited by the American Association of College Nursing and is being offered by a nationally recognized institution.
If you wish to earn your BSN, you must attend a Doctorate level clinical nurse specialist program before you can begin earning your BSN. or MSN. Even if you intend to further your education after having completed the BSN, you must still be enrolled in a BSN or MSN program in order to complete your BSN in clinical nursing.
BSN or MSN programs will provide you with an increased understanding of the theory behind nursing research, care, nursing theory, and even research methodology and evaluation, which will allow you to better prepare for a BSN degree or MSN degree in nursing and other nursing research programs. The coursework in a BSN degree program will also give you the experience in clinical nursing, which will make you more qualified to train in a different area of nursing, such as rehabilitation.
When you graduate from a BSN or MSN clinical nurse specialist program, you will find yourself well prepared for your career in clinical nursing. As the doctorate . . . . . . in clinical nursing degree is not required for employment in the field of clinical nursing, it is not necessary to obtain additional training to advance your career. You can focus on your master's program or doctoral degree, and use this knowledge to help you find employment or further your studies in clinical nursing.