MSN vs DNP

Posted on: October 8th, 2021 by Robert 1 Comment

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

One Response

  1. Hi Bob,
    After reading your experience from both the perspective of a Masters-prepared nurse practitioner and a Doctorate-prepared nurse practitioner you have a similar mindset to many individuals who are trying to piece together and understand the significance and the necessity of pursuing one degree over the other. I had a hard time distinguishing the practical differences between both education levels, however, you brought up a highlightable idea. It seems as if masters-prepared nurse practitioners are more comfortable with their current knowledge of evidence-based practice and the succeeding standardized practice procedures for varying conditions. The doctorate-prepared nurse practitioner is more included with research, and knowledge that is consistent with the literature, but not necessarily dead set on standards of care. This notion is critical to understand. On the shorthand, on the outside looking in, there are virtually no differences between the APN-MSN and APN-DNP until you understand the range of leadership and creativity power that comes with a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Bob, you also referenced the reaction of the APN-MSN and APN-DNP providers in response to COVID 19 and found a common theme among MSN-DNP providers and the inability to discern solid evidence from non-credible information.

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