MSN vs DNP
I recently graduated as a master’s prepared nurse during the initial stages of DNP programs. Many of us heard this was going to be the new requirement for nurse practitioners and I remember looking into a few programs in 2006. I remember one discussion clearly with one of the schools I spoke. I asked, “What will this degree provide for me?” The answer I received started with silence and finished with discussion about no change in the scope of practice. Further discussion with colleagues about a DNP at that time lead to the consensus to enroll if required. If there was more consensus among States regarding the scope of practice with APRNs, and an enticement of more autonomy may have peaked a better response from some.
As my career has developed, I had the opportunity to be a member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. This is well organized evidence-based medical organization that is becoming a separate branch of medicine. Becoming a diplomate of ACLM is what spurred my renewed interest in a DNP degree. In addition, owning a practice and being independent put a greater emphasis on reviewing research on a consistent basis.
In my earlier years, and even watching my colleagues now, as a masters level nurse there is a focus on following guidelines. Many MSNs seem to focus procedurally, typically avoiding updated research. Most notably this past year with the coronavirus pandemic the separation of MSN prepared versus DNP prepared was obvious. I was surprised at the reaction of MSN colleagues towards this major health crisis. Disregard for solid evidence and quoting tainted evidence to support beliefs. DNP prepared nurses focused on research but also have that combination of care for the individual patient and the community at the same time.
Pursuing my DNP and focusing on those who already have DNPs, I see the shift focus to becoming more research and evidence based as well as being leaders at our conferences. My experience in the DNP program while working on project has increased my scope of practice. I feel the attainment of the DNP degree with help further conducting of research, become a better educator with patients, staff, and community, and a better presenter of evidence-based research.
Unfortunately, it took a few years to realize the benefit of a DNP but having this degree as a requirement for APRNs makes perfect sense now.
Bob Hobbs, APRN, MSN, MBA, DipACLM