Will the DNP Deter Potential NP Students?
Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and
answer them as best we can. This post is written by blogger Mai Kung,
NP, a recent DNP graduate.
Q:Is this DNP push perhaps being driven at least in part by a desire
among graduate nursing schools to milk more money from nursing students, as
some have speculated? And, for whatever advantages the DNP might offer, is this
DNP push necessarily a good idea considering that ANPs (and RNs in general) are
expected to be in increasing demand in the coming years? Moreover, does
weighing prospective grad students down with greater educational requirements
(and their attendant larger investment of time and money) discourage quite a
few good prospects from bothering to pursue advanced-practice nursing degrees
just when they are most needed?
A: Many people question the need to transition
the APRN preparation from a master’s to a doctoral level, since master’s-prepared
APRNs can provide cost effective and high-quality healthcare. Many also have speculated about the potential
ramifications related to this transition. Your concern that a reduced supply of APRNs may result due to an
increased educational requirement is one of many valid concerns associated with
the DNP movement, as a longer program certainly may deter a number of qualified
candidates from making this commitment. On
the other hand, I think the DNP options may be quite attractive to others as the
enrollments in the DNP programs have increased exponentially since their
inception. For example, there were 170
people enrolled in a DNP program with 7 graduated in 2004, compared to 5,165
people enrolled and 660 graduated in 2009 (AACN available at http://www.aacn.nche.edu/dnp/pdf/DNPForum3-10.pdf). As of March
2009, 72% of schools that are offering APRN programs (388) are either planning
(161) or already offering a DNP program (120).
As of January 2011 there are 132 DNP programs in existence. These trends demonstrate wide acceptance by colleges
of nursing. However, the supply of APRNs
should be closely monitored. It will be
very interesting to follow and analyze the trends of APRN student enrollment
and the number of graduates from master’s programs over the last 10-20 years
and to monitor this data into the future.
This data will be compared with that of the DNP and other nursing
doctoral programs to identify the trends and effects on the supply of APRNs in
this country (please also understand the transition to DNP is only one of many
factors that may affect the supply of APRNs).
The speculation that the DNP might
be driven in part by a desire among graduate nursing school to “milk more money”
from nursing students is hard for me to accept.
Shortages of nurses and nursing faculty are a serious problem in this
country. Nursing schools are faced with
increasing pressure to produce more RNs to meet this demand. Statistics show that nearly 55,000 qualified
nursing students were turned away from nursing schools in 2009: nearly 43,000
from entry-level baccalaureate, nearly 2,500 from RN-to-BSN baccalaureate,
nearly 8,500 from master’s and just over 1,000 from doctoral programs (http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media/newsreleases/2010/enrollchanges.html). The major reason
that qualified students were turned away from programs has been largely due to
a lack of nursing faculty. A large
proportion of nursing faculty is dissatisfied with their workload and educators
are genuinely concerned that the added APRN educational requirement may
overburden an already stretched system.
The nursing faculty shortage is a complex issue and may take many years
Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of
motion states that for every action there is an equal or opposite
reaction. There are many factors that
set the DNP movement into action. Currently it is in accelerated motion and gaining momentum. It will not likely be stopped. How can we positively shape this “action” to
“react” in a way that will benefit our healthcare system and the nursing
profession? I think this is the question on which we ought to focus most of our
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