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What’s my incentive to acquire a DNP?

Anton Prado | Veer + Scrubs

A little over a year ago, I wrote a brief FYI blog post about the future goals of advanced practice nursing and the role of the DNP according to the consensus model by the AACN. Questions have come up that I’d like to address.

Will there be a set of uniform guidelines that each state follows in transitioning the requirements from an MSN to a DNP for a current practitioner?

As most nurses have discovered, state requirements are very different from national requirements. While all states share the same minimum requirement of following national certification guidelines, each state’s specific requirements for licensure and employment is at its own discretion.

In my opinion, this means each state will choose how you may transition. If the current state protocols are a reflection of things to come, be sure to do your homework and contact your local state agencies to get the details. I would not assume the guidelines for one state will mirror another, no matter how close their geographic locations are.

I’m in the last year of my ACNP program and we quickly are learning that there are many hoops to jump through and red tape to follow when applying for licensure.

What incentives does acquiring a DNP have other than just being a requirement?

Many nurses are questioning the motives behind the impending changes and what incentives exist to motivate a current nurse to pursue the DNP. More specifically, are there pay rate changes to the DNP as opposed to the MSN? I mean, we’re technically being required to get another 12-24 months of advanced education–are we being compensated? More education should equal more pay, right?

It’s not a simple answer.

The NP profession sort of shot themselves in the foot with this one. For years, NPs fought for independence. Independence in the practice, and then independence as a practitioner. Granted, this fight was more for the general practitioners (Family Nurse Practitioners), but since the NP profession has become more specialized, it affects all specializations.

Now in some states, an FNP can open a clinic or office with the assistance of an MD. And in some states, the FNP can practice without the actual physical presence of the MD (just a phone call away).

Not to minimize the concept, but Uncle Ben from the Spiderman comics said it best: “With great power comes great responsibility.” If we as a profession want to have the power to work independently and function with that kind of “power,” it is our responsibility to be prepared. More responsibility equals more education, period.

Oh, and let’s not minimize the ever-expanding complexity of health care, our patients and their health challenges. The truth of the matter is, our patients are living longer and have more health challenges that did not exist a decade ago thanks to advancements in treatment. We as the practitioners need to “up our game” to meet these challenges. Upping our game means attaining a higher level of education.

So the “motivation” for attaining your DNP is simple. Do it to improve the care of our patients.

If you’re worried about not being compensated for your additional education, we might want to take a step back and look at our economy as a whole. Our profession is one of the few that is not being affected by the current economic strain. There are MANY health care professionals out there who have no job opportunities at all.

I, for one, predict that depending on the area you choose to work, the pay rate will change, but not because you simply got your DNP–rather, because your role as a practitioner has expanded and will continue to expand in the years to come. Yes, an MSN prepared NP functions just as a DNP prepared NP does currently, but I foresee that changing very soon.

In the end, if the impending educational requirement from an MSN to the DNP is affecting your decision to advanced your degree or swaying you towards not advancing your degree all together, then maybe it’s just not for you.

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One Response to What’s my incentive to acquire a DNP?

  1. Belasko RN

    While I essentially agree with the theory we should want to increase our education and responsibility for the improved care of our pt’s I have hard time disregarding the cost/compensations issues. I for one would have a hard time taking on additional debt to get an advanced degree if my pay does not increase afterwards to then pay of said debt. Doing so could be financially irresponsible. For those that can afford to spend that additional money to go back to school, I applaud them and wish them the best of luck.

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