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DNP Discussions

A Study of MSN vs. DNP - Is It Worth It?

Published April 1, 2011 11:44 AM by Lisa Chism, NP

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 Lisa Chism, NP, DNP, NCMP.

Q: To further the discussion, is there ANY research that states that we Masters-prepared NPs do not provide equitable quality to our patients as our DNP cohorts? Would it really be feasible for anyone to undertake this research, seeing how it may undermine our own ranks?

First, no, to my knowledge (and please, correct me if I am wrong) there is no literature that specifically examines quality of care of master's-prepared APNs compared to DNP-prepared APNs.

Your second question is very interesting and valid. I personally don’t think a study like this would behoove our profession. The IOM has outlined new skills and knowledge that ALL healthcare professional should develop (please see also this month’s “DNP Perspectives” column) and the DNP degree curricula reflects that. We should all strive to improve quality of care but not belittle or sabotage our colleagues with different educational preparation. We all meet the same requirements to practice through our specific specialty certification. I agree fully that a study like this may “undermine our own ranks.” The DNP degree is not meant to segregate NPs but rather add additional knowledge and skill to continually improve practice.

Further, advancing the profession sometimes involves increasing or adjusting requirement for entry into practice. For example, NPs previously were prepared through certification only and not a master’s degree. The decision to require a master’s degree for entry into practice was made and programs began the transition. There was of course resistance as there is with any change. At that time, certified NPs without master’s degrees were grandfathered and able to continue practicing without earning a masters degree. However, those entering the field after the target transition date were required to earn a masters degree.

Those with certification only were not considered obsolete or ill qualified. Rather, the nursing profession raised the bar, in part, to advance the profession and provide uniformity in requirements to practice. This is parallel to the current shift to the DNP degree.

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