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Where I work, it’s a mixed bag in terms of responses to the fact that I am studying to earn my DNP. Where I work, most nurses return to school to pursue a Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) or Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), not other DNP degrees. Many senior staff nurses are frustrated when new graduate bachelor’s trained nurses barely practice for a year or two, only to return to school to pursue a graduate degree in nursing. While I agree that some experience should be required to become a DNP, everyone has a different reason to become a nurse. Everyone has unique professional goals, which should be respected. Some discouragement from my nursing colleagues has come when they question why I, as an ICU nurse, would want to work in a less acute environment. Some nurses look at returning to school as giving up and as a sign of weakness or inability to handle high-stress environments for their entire professional nursing career.
I am pursuing my DNP in a Family Nurse Practitioner educational track, so my experience has been different from those pursuing a CRNA education. I have worked in my Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) for about nine and a half years. So, my coworkers are sad that I will eventually leave rather than discourage me from pursuing an advanced degree. I believe my experience differs from most because I work in an academic medical center, where staff are used to people leaving to pursue higher education. Like many others, many of the medical and ancillary staff I work with also support my pursuit of an advanced practice degree. While some people have questioned why I did not attend medical school, most are encouraging. I have some older family friends who are physicians. They are more supportive of my becoming a nurse practitioner and even have said that if they had better understood the nurse practitioner role when they were younger, they would have probably chosen differently.