Sharkey's enrollment in the DNP program echoes a growing trend in the country, which has seen the DNP skyrocket in popularity.
"I wanted to find a doctorate degree that would allow me to grow as a nurse executive and a healthcare leader," says Sharkey. "I started looking at the DNP role, which is a practice doctorate. [Such things are] very common in professions like pharmacy and physical therapy. It's not a new concept for healthcare professionals, but it is new concept for nursing."
The DNP is a good option for professionals who are not interested in academia or spending the amount of time in research that is required for a PhD. In her role where she interacts with doctoral-prepared medical practitioners, she did not want to be the least educated person at the table.
"If nurses really want to make an impact on healthcare reform and transforming healthcare, we need to get ourselves educated at a higher level," says Sharkey. "I needed to find a program that would allow me to gain that skill and knowledge. I've finished a year of the program and it has really expanded my vision, scope of thinking, my ability to access and use evidence-based practice. It puts me at a more advantageous position at the table negotiating with other people."