DNP and Grandfathering
Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and
answer them as best we can. DNP Answers blogger Dena Galler, NP, answers the following question.
Q: “Do present FNPs get grandfathered in as DNPs?”
(from reader Mihaela Grecu Farley, who asked us on Facebook)
A: “Grandfathering” means that one is exempt from new requirements,
so, in 2015, master’s-prepared NPs will continue to function in the NP
role and be granted APN status by their state board of nursing (BON) if they graduated
from an accredited NP program and were licensed and credentialed prior
to educational requirement changes… but they will not be DNPs as
that is an academic degree and not a role title. This same scenario
occurred in the late 1980s when the MSN was finally considered the new
entry level standard for NP practice and NPs who attended 1-year
certificate programs were grandfathered in and not required to go back
for their degree in order to continue practicing. Many of those NPs from
certificate programs are still practicing today and will continue to be
grandfathered in when the new DNP requirements take effect.
The DNP degree is recommended by various professional nursing organizations to become the entry-level educational preparation for nurse practitioners by the year 2015. In 2002, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing started exploring the need for a clinically oriented doctoral program based on the fact that NP programs had been progressively exceeding the number of academic credits generally required for most master’s degrees. Some programs now exceed 60 credits and require at least three years to complete. As the NP role has expanded and patient problems and health care have become more complex, the programs’ curricula have also had to expand to incorporate current practice guidelines and technology.
Even with additional course contents and added credits, many NPs continue to feel that they haven’t received all the training necessary to prepare them for clinical practice following graduation. Adding an additional 1-2 years to the current 2-year master’s-level NP programs would allow an increase in content to be included, with the final year geared towards a clinical residency for a higher level of competency and confidence.
NPs are granted privileges by the state in which they practice and individual states may vary in their NP requirements.
Currently, all (or at least most) states require NPs to have a minimum of a master’s degree along with national certification in their field of specialty in order to be considered an advanced practice nurse. Agencies that provide NP national certifications now require a minimum of a master’s degree to sit for their exams but these requirements will also change in 2015, making the DNP necessary for all new NP certifications.
How will the master’s-prepared NPs be affected by the future DNP requirements? They have the option of returning to school for a 1- to 2-year DNP “bridging” program or can be grandfathered in by their state BON to continue practicing.
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