Posted on: August 25th, 2021 by Dianna HACKER-TAYLOR No Comments

Blog: MSN vs DNP

Congratulations! You recently completed a master’s degree in Nursing and successfully earned national certification to work as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) in your specialty area, so why entertain the idea of completing another degree? Many ask how a Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) differs from a master’s degree in Nursing. This blog is meant to provide meaningful information that may answer those questions.
DNP Essentials
Start with reading the DNP Essentials published by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) (2006). This publication provides foundational information concerning DNP curriculum requirements and competencies that graduates must meet (AACN,2006). These competencies build upon your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and prepare graduates to engage in leadership roles in practice, academia, and organizational settings.
Advantages of a DNP vs MSN
Significant differences are highlighted in AACN’s (2006) DNP Essential II and IV. Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership for Quality Improvement and Systems Thinking (AACN, 2020) equips graduates for advanced leadership roles. As healthcare systems become increasingly complex, nurses must engage in patient safety measures that ensure optimal outcomes. MSN APRN curriculum focuses on patient problem identification and patient management. It spends little time on evaluating efficiency of healthcare systems. These systems can promote or hinder effective patient management Nurses must develop strategies to solve system problems. Process mapping is a valuable tool used to evaluate system workflow and provides a foundational step for quality improvement initiates.
DNPs are prepared to initiate quality improvement measures aimed at improving patient outcomes, The DNP graduate develops skills to identify the location and source of the problem. For example, DNPs utilize process mapping to identify whether the problem is an input or process issue. This is important as input and process determine outcomes. Many complex healthcare systems such as Cincinnati Children’s hospital utilize outcome managers as change agents (Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 1999-2021).
DNP Essential IV: Improving Systems/Technology and Patient Care Technology for the Improvement and Transformation of Health Care.
DNP graduates utilize data mining for analysis (Beeber et al., 2019). This can be useful to evaluate identify gaps in provider utilization of clinical guidelines to improve patient outcomes. Patient care technology utilizes many mobile apps to manage chronic health conditions. Mobile apps are utilized to promote improved self-management skills in patients with complex healthcare issues such as asthma. DNPs are equipped to evaluate usability of mobile apps and to make recommendations (Golden & Krauskopf, 2018).
In conclusion, advanced practice DNP graduates receive additional competencies that prepare them to work as change agents to improve healthcare (Christiansen et al.,2018). As your professional colleague, I encourage you to take the next step in your career!

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2021). The essentials of doctoral nursing education for advanced practice. position/DNPEssentials.pdf; 2006. Accessed August 23, 2021
Beeber, A. S., Palmer, C., Waldrop, J., Lynn, M. R., & Jones, C. B. (2019). The role of Doctor of Nursing Practice-prepared nurses in practice settings. Nursing Outlook, 67(4), 354–364.
Christiansen, B., & Champion, J. D. (2018). Examining Doctor of Nursing Practice Clinical Competency. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 14(5), e93–e100.
Golden, A., & Krauskopf, P. (2018). Systematic evaluation of Mobile Apps. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 12 (1).

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