10 Attributes of a Successful DNP Student


From a very early age, many of the nurses today knew exactly what role they wanted to go into. If you care about others and want to help those in need, going into the nursing world may just be the natural step to take. Once you’re in the sector, you may decide you want to strive for bigger and better things, which is where a DNP degree comes into play.

A DNP program teaches you the skills and knowledge needed to seek managerial and leadership roles within nursing. If this is the route for you, of course, you’ll want to get the best grades possible. To get to the finish line with flying colors, here are some key attributes you’ll need.

Clear Vision

When enrolling in a DNP program, you must have goals in place and set a vision for the future. Doing so is vital for how successful you are in this degree, and in life too. When you possess a clear vision, this helps you stay in control of your individual objectives, alongside maintaining accountability during your program. Your DNP program should align with your professional goals, so if you want to go into pediatric nursing, it makes sense to look at an institution like Baylor University which offers online pediatric acute nurse practitioner programs. You won’t want all your hard work in your DNP program to go to waste, so ensure you pick a specialization that correlates with your visions and goals. 

Ability to Prioritize

DNP students who know how to prioritize tend to do better in their program. This is because you’ll understand the importance of differentiating tasks as either non-critical or critical. The best way to prioritize is by analyzing the program and course objectives. Once you get to grips with what is expected of you, you’ll know which tasks need to be completed first. Prioritizing is a key trait that you’ll need in all fields of nursing, so getting into the habit of arranging your workload from the start will pay off long-term. 


Throughout your DNP degree, you’re going to need to have self-discipline. For those learning from home in particular, all kinds of distractions may take your eye off your studies. These include the television, your smartphone, and disturbances from your partner or kids. To thrive and achieve top marks, you will need to concentrate on your coursework. The best way to do this is by finding a quiet area in your home and letting those you live with know you need privacy and alone time.

Time Management

Similar to self-discipline, you will need to learn and master time management skills during your DNP degree. When you go into a senior nursing role, there will be deadlines you must abide by. At first, all the tasks and coursework expected of you can be overwhelming. However, managing your time effectively will help you achieve more in a shorter timeframe and boost productivity and efficiency. 

Healthy Work-Life Balance

Once you become a DNP student, you may want to spend all your free time studying. While this may work at the start, you’re at risk of burning out much quicker. Like with anything in life, balance is needed. This means you should factor in time for yourself along the way outside of your studies. Whether you catch up with friends, run a hot bath, or do some exercise, you need to find the right balance between your work life, studying, and seeing loved ones. Never feel guilty about taking some time for yourself. Spending all your time behind a desk won’t do your mental health any good either. As long as you have things to look forward to outside your course, this should keep you on track.


As you navigate through your DNP degree, you need to have the self-belief that you’re going to reach the final hurdle and get the grades you envisaged. If you’re not confident in your abilities, this will show in your grades. You’re bound to come up against challenges along the way, but don’t let this derail you. If you are stuck on a certain module, there are people there to help you. For those who want to step into nurse leadership roles, you’ll need to be assertive and confident in your approach, otherwise, how else can you expect people to take you seriously? 

Stress Management

Your stress levels will inevitably arise during your DNP program. Whenever you start something new, the anticipation of what to expect can fill you with not only excitement but dread too. If you’re having difficulty with a module, try not to let your stress get out of control. Instead, practice relaxation techniques. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can calm you down and get you focused again. 


Whatever nursing role you go into, effective communication is a must. Whether you’re engaging with patients, their families, or other healthcare professionals, communicating and relaying information correctly is key. This means when you embark on a DNP program, you need to become a pro at communication. Even if you’re learning from home, you will still need to engage with your course leader, peers, and industry experts.

Critical Thinking

Every DNP student will have a different way of thinking and learning to achieve their desired results. Critical thinking is all about what methods you use to arrive at the best solution possible. Therefore, during your course, this skill will help you think outside the box and look at different avenues to attain the best grades. If you’re stuck on something, don’t be afraid to ask questions. There is always something new to learn in nursing, no matter how long you’ve been in the sector for.


During your time as a DNP student, having enthusiasm for your course and thinking positively is essential. If you don’t have passion for what you do, chances are you’re on the wrong program. Nursing is more than just a 9-5 job. You’ll find any successful nurse lives and breathes their role, so if you’re having second thoughts, it may be wise to look at other options.

Before you start a DNP degree, getting yourself in student mode and mastering all the attributes above is essential. All these characteristics are what will set you apart from other students and get you the grades you’re after.

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