I'm planning to study LGBTQ+ health disparities and am applying to UCSF, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Penn, UIC, and Michigan. They all have faculty doing LGBTQ+ health research, which is important to me, and they are all strong in health policy, which is especially interesting to me.
I have a couple of publications and will have one conference presentation under my belt when I submit applications in a couple weeks. I've been really fortunate to have these opportunities. It's been a combination of putting myself out there, luck, and generosity of faculty. I'm not certified in a nursing specialty.
If you are going back and forth between the DNP and PhD, you might want to think about what you want to with the degree. They are very different degrees with a very different emphasis. The DNP is a practice degree. My understanding is you'll get to work a bit with research and may be able to do some research when you graduate, but research is not the focus and you will not have the same preparation to do research that you would get from a PhD. You will be an expert at nursing practice. You could be a faculty member at a school of nursing but you'd more likely be clinical faculty as opposed to research faculty, so depending on your interests that could be a pro or a con for you. Again, you could still be involved in research with a DNP but if research is truly your calling the PhD would probably be a better fit.
A PhD is focused on research. The purpose is to become an expert in nursing research and the program will not focus on becoming advanced in your practice (though you certainly can get your PhD and still practice!) If you really want to be an advanced practice nurse AND do research, you might want to look into a combined DNP/PhD degree.
I apologize if you were already aware of the above! I do think it helps to hear a lot of different perspectives on the programs, though. I had a hard time choosing between nursing and public health and it took a lot of conversations with a lot of faculty to help me decide, so hopefully hearing one more perspective on DNP and PhD is helpful for you.
Best of luck to you as think about which degree is your best fit! If you comb through the doctoral nursing section of AllNurses, you will find a lot of threads about DNP vs PhD. I'd love to hear what you decide!