Home Forums DNP Professional Growth The Discouragement Received From Nurse Colleagues When Pursuing DNP

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  • #41244
    Ricky Bonar
    Participant

    Hi Avery, I think you have brought up a valid point. It does seem to me as well to be a recurring theme. Remember, negative comments are usually made to self validate in order to justify a missed opportunity. Some people see it as a blessing and some will realize that they wish to have the same opportunity as you but if that is not possible the “safe” way to respond is to validate themselves by justifying the mootness of pursuing a DNP degree; and I said “safe” because it is generally frowned upon for anyone to demonstrate jealousy. Because it can be difficult to predict how people will react to my personal pursuits I have kept my admission into the DNP program to myself.

    #41248
    Elizabeth Lopez
    Participant

    Hello Avery,
    I have been in many conversations where my coworkers’ have brought up the topic on future goals and I talk about my goal of pursuing a DNP degree. The responses are many times full of negativity. Because of the negative feedback I get from coworkers I have become a lot more hesitant to share my educational goals at work. Some of the responses have included commenting on how I will owe so much on loans and have a very difficult time finding employment despite completing a grad program. It is very disappointing to realize that within our own field of practice so many still lack insight on the purpose of a higher education. Most do not know the purpose of obtaining a DNP and how it leads to having the professional knowledge to take part in making changes to the healthcare system. There are many coworkers that talk about wanting change in the health care system, but they don’t realize that the change will only happen if we take the initial steps to be part of the change. Despite the negative responses from others, I take every opportunity to educate coworkers, family, and friends on the purpose of a DNP. I educate them that a nurse with a DNP purpose is to improve healthcare and be able to provide quality and evidenced based services to diverse populations and in turn improve patient outcomes and therefore be part of a change in healthcare. On a more positive note, I am pursuing the PMHDNP and I work with psychiatrist that always have words of encouragement and tell me that they believe NP are the future of healthcare. So, despite the many negative comments I hold on to the positive ones and will continue to move forward.

    #41306
    Andrea M Whitchurch
    Participant

    I haven’t necessarily received negative comments, so much as a questioning of general confusion as to a DNP not being strictly a Nurse Practitioner. As soon as I say that I am enrolled in a DNP program, the assumption is that I and becoming a Nurse Practitioner. Of course, I go on to explain that the DNP is the degree and that there are 4 different roles associated with the degree. When I first told my brother, he assumed that it meant I was going to be a doctor-as in a physician. Hopefully, as more and more DNP’s graduate and enter the field, this confusion will be cleared up.

    #41333
    Alma Rodriguez
    Participant

    Hello Avery,
    I have come across people that have brushed off the importance of a DNP degree once i have mentioned it to them. Thankfully I have also come across people that have praised my decision to go back to school and continue my education because they know the importance nurses make and can only imagine how much more knowledgeful we will be as we are equipped with more information and more skills in our pockets. I have come to the conclusion that the people that are naysayers don’t fully understand the importance in education and it is not someone I will probably go out of my way to ask for advice on education. I did a lot of research prior to applying to the program and realized this was something that I wanted to do for myself as well as my patients. I have also encountered people that have made comments such as “why dont you just go to medical school” or “you still won’t be a doctor”. I take this time to educate those people that I don’t want to do either of these, or I don’t understand why our community still believes that healthcare is a hierarchy system where physicians are at the top instead of a multidisciplinary team where there are many people working together for the same goal. I will continue to continue to contribute to changing people’s negative view on the DNP degree.

    #41360
    HIERONIMUS E. SOLO
    Participant

    Hi Avery,
    Thank you for asking this question/concern, I believe this has been one of the most common thing most of us DNP pursuers encounter when planning on or starting our graduate school. In my opinion, DNP level of nursing hasn’t been around for so long, thus not very many people truly know and understand the role of DNP nursing, thus it often seem like a glorified nursing title with a sprinkle of Doctorate title on top. Little did they know that DNP nursing are so much more than that; often times in a certain settings such as urgent care, primary care, or clinics, have overlapping duties with physicians. I believe one of the best ways to respond to these discouragements is to be confident and sure about the path you’re choosing, educate yourself about the role, job growth, and demand of DNP nursing in the healthcare today, and calmly educate them. However, the one thing that confuse me the most is when fellow nurses are the ones who are giving the negative responses. I understand the importance of having solid experience in their specialties, but the way the graduate school is designed, it is entirely possible for nurses to work full time while enrolling in a DNP program. For example, if one starts to take 1 or 2 core classes as soon as he/she earned their BSN license while working and gaining experience, he/she would have finished all of the needed basic requirements in 2-3 or more years and then start the clinical portion of the DNP program with about 3 years experience already in hand. Plus, such nurses who are young, driven, and goal oriented are likely to be driven to try harder in their school and workplace. In my opinion, there is absolutely no issue to start a graduate program as early as possible if you know you are an open minded, a quick learner, and a motivated person.

    #41502
    Rafael Cruzado
    Participant

    Hi Avery,
    Please do not be discouraged! I am sorry you have negative feedback from other people about your determination to go back to school. This is your journey, and you should choose to enjoy it. In my personal experience, I can share that I work for a teaching institution where learning is always encouraged and celebrated. When I decided to go back to school, I shared it with co-workers and family. I did not receive one negative comment about it, but only words of encouragement and support. It took me several years to decide to go back to school, then the pandemic came, and I had to put it off for some time before applying for the program I am in now. The first word of support came from a former preceptor who wrote a recommendation letter. When I received the acceptance letter from the school, this former preceptor was happier for me than myself. In the end, this is your journey, so share your struggles with people who care about you, not the ones who might envy you or feel stagnant with their own lives. I hope this helps and by now you are continuing with your schooling.
    Best wishes!

    #41506
    Rania Qaqish
    Participant

    Hi Avery, I am glad you brought this up because I definitely deal with this issue when talking to my peers about pursuing my DNP. I feel like the response is typically negative from people that work in healthcare. My family and friends are very supportive and excited for me. However, when speaking with other nurses they usually have a negative response about pursuing my DNP. I definitely think there’s a way to go with the profession of nursing receiving the respect and credit it deserves. This can be done by educating our peers and patients about the role of DNPs and their educational background. I also believe that too many nurses are burdened with school loans. It’s actually sad that a profession that gives back to its community and is so selfless, requires their nurses to be stressed with a ridiculous amount of loans. I have also learned to cope with negative opinions and focus on my goals and positive thoughts. We need more well prepared APRN’s for this overwhelmed healthcare system. My hope is that over the next few years APRNs will be valued and utilized effectively.

    #41697
    Rosemary Benavides
    Participant

    Hi Avery, this is a topic that definitely stood out to me. I believe that many nurses have, or will experience this type of discouragement at some point in their nursing career. I myself have also experienced forms of discouragement, or judgmental comments from some peers when I tell them I am pursuing my DNP. As we already know, the nursing profession is always evolving. Some of the most recent concerns in the nursing profession and in healthcare include a shortage of nursing faculty and a shortage in medical providers. There is now a strong urge, or push for nurses to purse advanced practice nursing degrees due to the increased shortage of medical providers. DNPs are qualified leaders and healthcare providers. Thus, nurses who pursue their DNP will help provide optimal patient care and assist in the shortage of providers. The other concern involves the role of the DNP as an educator. The lack of faculty nurses can also be addressed by encouraging DNPs to pursue careers as academic educators. As future DNPs, it is our responsibility to educate our peers and others on the importance behind pursing a DNP graduate degree and all the benefits that it provides for the advancement of the nursing profession.

    #43927
    YuJin
    Participant

    Yes, my coworkers were questioning why I would go to DNP instead of a master’s degree for a nurse practitioner. We rarely see any DNP in my work setting but there are many new nurse practitioners working with a master’s degree NP license. I made the decision to go for the DNP based on the information that DNP will be entry-level for the nurse practitioner, and I did not want to restart studying to get the DNP after my master’s NP degree. I did not need to rush to practice as a nurse practitioner. I thought that it will be my last schooling if I restart studying. So, I chose to study for a terminal degree for an NP license. There is common negativism about a doctorate degree in nurse practitioners. The title doctor is somewhat not correlated with nursing practice. in a health care setting, the doctor is referring doctor in medicine. There is resistance in the medical field to granting the doctor title to nursing practice. American Medical Association resolution in 2006 stated that nurses and other physician providers who hold a doctoral degree and identify themselves as doctors will create confusion, jeopardize patient safety, and erode the trust inherent in the true patient-physician relationship. Time has passed and nursing organizations have constantly responded to the negativism of doctorate degrees for registered nurses. Still, there are negative encounters with doctorated nurse practitioners, but DNP needs to educate others about the title and degree and the need for the doctorate degree for the evolution of the nursing profession and improving the quality of health care for the community.

    #43938
    Andrea Lee
    Participant

    Hi Avery,
    I did receive many comments “why” spend that money and “what’s it ping to do for you.” I did however have wonderful support from my husband and children. I will add however that it has not yet helped advance my career which is a bit disappointing.
    Andrea

    #45470
    Kevin Kim
    Participant

    Hello Avery,
    When mentioning the pursuit of a DNP degree I have been met with both positive and negative comments from my fellow nursing peers. More often than not it tends to be positive but I feel the role of APRNs and the idea of nurse obtaining their DNP is still fairly new within the nursing community. Nursing is consistently evolving, there are many avenues that can be taken within this one profession and I feel that as it grows the attitudes towards the different careers will change as well. I have often noticed many of the nurses who discourage the pursuit of higher education, tend to lack knowledge on what opportunities are available now. The scope of practice and amount of jobs available is also increasing for many APRN roles within institutions and even those not within the healthcare field are becoming more knowledgeable on the role of the Nurse Practitioner and other APRNs. I feel as these newer positions become more prominent the attitudes will also change. I have often noticed many of the nurses who discourage the pursuit of higher education, tend to lack knowledge on what opportunities are available now. Hopefully those negative comments do not discourage you from the important role you will be able to play as a provider. APRNs play an important role in closing gaps within the healthcare system and dedicating the time and resources to help fill these inequalities should be encouraged.

    #46005
    Kristina
    Participant

    Wow, this is so disheartening to hear. Sadly, I believe these comments come from a bit of ignorance. As difficult as it is to hear these comments, I feel these conversations position the DNP hopeful well to inform others and take steps to change this mentality. I am pursuing a master’s degree in nursing administration and often I get the other side of that insult, people seem surprised that I would “only” be obtaining a master’s degree and not going “all the way” to be prepared at the doctoral level. I think what is important is that each one of us knows what our goals are and knows how to obtain the education we need to meet those goals. Also, we can expect others to not understand our situation from where they sit. We need to embrace these discussions and see them as an opportunity to help others have a new perspective and better understanding of the big picture. The reality is, we need nurses on all educational levels to complete the work and the journey is different and unique for each one of us. My hope is we can embrace and support one another to advance our profession to new levels together.

    #46007
    Samuel
    Participant

    Hi Avery,

    I have a different situation in my workplace. I work in a small inpatient psychiatric facility and most of my coworkers are in NP school. We are very encouraging towards each other and are encouraging our other coworkers to get started on their terminal degrees. I did notice that my personal friends who are nurses do not share the same thoughts about graduate school. I had one friend who said a nurse can make as much or more as an NP and they do not want to get more bogged down with debt. So I understand your sentiment about other nurses discouraging you from getting your DNP degree. Financial reasons aside, there is so much more to the DNP degree than money or debt and I hope my friends could see that and pursue their terminal degree. I would keep my cards closer if I could do it again; there is little use in trying to convince someone of something they do not agree with.

    #46022
    Ana B
    Participant

    Hello Avery,

    Unfortunately, I too have experienced this; when I got into nursing school, when I moved to the ICU, and now that I am pursuing CRNA school. I recently entered a LEAP program; where if I graduate, I am guaranteed a spot at a CRNA school. I currently work at the ICU unit, and I still struggle with telling people because I can feel the judgment from certain individuals; the negative comments about more loans, how difficult it is, “you think you’re so good huh”.

    You shouldn’t be discouraged from sharing your story. Pursing higher education is something to be proud of. I have come a long way and getting into a CRNA pathway is an achievement that should be celebrated. I have come to learn that when you choose to improve yourself and want to learn more and remain an active lifelong learner that can come with certain negative comments. But don’t let this hold you back, because when you share your experiences, this can also create positive experiences for other people around. This creates an amazing opportunity to also influence the next generation of nurses. By sharing your experiences this can help others who are curious about higher education. We are all change agents, it’s if we choose to use our abilities for the greater good or not. I completely agree with David Vaughan’s post and thank you for sharing your story.

    #46023
    Ana B
    Participant

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    • This reply was modified 11 months ago by Ana B.
    #46310
    Ryan
    Participant

    I’m sorry to hear of the negative comments some students are getting in pursuing their APRN degrees. Since Avery’s initial post in 2020, I hope the passage of time in the past 3 years has decreased these occurrences. Personally, I have been very fortunate to have been met with celebration and encouragement to pursue a higher degree. I’ve received this positive energy from management, coworkers, and patients. Some individuals were happy but confused due to the lack of awareness of the position I am pursuing. I like to think that each time I explain the role of a DNP, I am helping other students and professionals pursue or practice as a DNP by spreading awareness. My manager helped to support me by working with me to create a position at the hospital that would allow me to financially support myself as best as possible while also giving me time to pursue my degree. My coworkers will ask me how I am doing with my education and aid me in covering any shifts to have time to finish assignments or attend classes. I can usually work with my manager to find a schedule to allow me to manage my time well in finishing assignments and working on the unit, so I rarely need to ask coworkers to cover shifts. I think I’ve only had to do that once. I’m not trying to boast about my experiences. I am truly thankful to my workplace and loved ones. I want to share my experiences to encourage others to find a support system to help raise them towards better things.

    #46319
    Marisol
    Participant

    Avery:
    Reading your post fills me with sadness, as I have heard similar sentiments expressed by many colleagues who made the decision to pursue their DNP. When I shared my interest in pursuing my doctorate as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), I received similar responses, especially because my entire nursing career had been focused on working as an MICU nurse. This transition may have been confusing to some, and unfortunately, the reactions I received were far from encouraging; they were judgmental and disheartening. It’s frustrating to witness fellow nurses being met with judgment, mockery, and even shame as they embark on new paths in their careers. Rather than being seen as an accomplishment, the decision appears to be perceived as a betrayal. I can relate to your experience, as I also lost contact with many colleagues when I began my own journey.
    Avery, I want to celebrate and applaud your decision to further your education and serve your community. It’s a truly honorable and commendable choice to pursue personal and professional growth. As you embark on this journey, I advise you to carefully choose your support group during your graduate school experience. Surrounding yourself with positive and understanding individuals will make all the difference in your pursuit of success and fulfillment.

    #46362
    Jennifer
    Participant

    Hi Avery,
    I have experienced various reactions from people when they find out that I am in a DNP program. First of all, I usually just say I’m in a psych NP grad school and I only mention the DNP portion when they ask me why my program is so long. I’m careful not to disclose everything at once because I have noticed that people either try to defend their decision to do a master’s route to become an NP or be impressed by the fact. To be frank, I enrolled in a DNP program because I wanted to earn my terminal degree instead of getting my master’s and going back to school later. While going through the DNP program I am realizing the potential of this study and how this will shape me as a provider. Yes, I have heard many times that master’s prepared NPs can do the same things that DNP prepared NPs can. This may be true as we know BSN nurses don’t always make better nurses than ADN nurses. We also know that when we are better educated, we receive more respect. An example is the power of nurses in Magnet-designated hospitals. On a larger scale, our field needs more nurses who break out of their designated space and apply EBP, leadership, and improve quality outcomes of clinical practices. You will be one of the DNP-prepared nurse leaders who will change people’s negative outlook DNP programs.

    #46374
    Jeffrey
    Moderator

    Hi Avery,

    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.

    #46414
    Megan
    Participant

    Avery, I am sorry this has been your experience. I feel equally discouraged sometimes when discussing my degree with others because it is often misunderstood. It seems as if the Masters’s degree in nursing is all the rage right now, and people do not understand why getting a doctorate is necessary. I feel like this common perception is why we are not meeting the IOM’s call for action to have more DNP-prepared APRNs.
    Back when I was a new graduate (over ten years ago), I remember hospitals were starting to require nurses with bachelor’s degrees in nursing at the time of hire or often within the next 6 months. After the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel that standard was tossed in the wind a bit with the increased nursing shortage, and I am constantly meeting nurses in the hospital with associate degrees and not a bachelors. While I do feel that experience on the floor is vital for a nurse to gain as much expertise as possible because there are some things that cannot be learned in school, I also feel that pursuing MORE education is the best way to advance the nursing discipline to gain the respect all our of hard work. This is true for bachelor-prepared nurses compared to associates, as it is true for nurses with a master’s degree versus a doctorate. I feel that our background in evidence-based practice with a doctoral degree will advance nursing to its maximum potential. While obtaining a master’s degree is faster and cheaper than a doctoral degree, I do feel we will be better prepared to advance nursing further than nurses with master’s degrees. The nursing shortage on the floor and in faculty is only estimated to increase in the coming years as senior nurses retire more. I feel that a doctoral degree is the answer to this crisis, as it opens the door for more nurses to be able to teach and obtain tenure. I love extending my knowledge in the field to others, and I could see myself teaching further into my career, with my DNP degree as the key to allowing that future to manifest.

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