Should Nurses 'Do Their Time' Before DNP?
Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the doctor of
nursing practice degree and answer them as best we can. This post is
written by blogger Michael Zychowicz, NP.
Q: I haven't been a nurse that long (8 years total, 1 as an ACNP) but shouldn't there be an entry-level minimum practice time before you can even start schooling? There are a number of new RN grads that are already looking to start DNP school in the fall...
A: This is a good question. It is so common for us as nurses to say someone has to “do their time” before they do something else in nursing. I have heard this so many times in my career. You should do your time on a med-surg unit before you go to a specialty unit. You should do your time as a registered nurse before you go to become an advanced practice nurse. Now with the DNP there will be a whole new layer of questions about how much time should be spent practicing as a registered nurse or advanced practice nurse before entering DNP education. There is simply a lack of any reasonable literature that demonstrates one should or should not have a minimum number of years of practice before entering into DNP education.
Anecdotally, over my 12 years as an NP educator, I have witnessed several new BSN prepared nurses go straight on to NP education and very successful and competent practices. I would imagine the same thing would hold true for those who wish to go from BSN to DNP. Some educators would argue that the nurses who have been practicing for a while before they return to post-BSN education have developed bad habits that need more work to be corrected or sometimes they have a high degree of false confidence in their skills and abilities, adding a layer of complexity to the education process. I would imagine there are benefits to practicing before returning to post-BSN education. A nurse hones their skills in assessing, evaluating, treating and interacting with patients. They also become steeped in the day-to-day culture of healthcare and of being a nurse and have an opportunity to develop that identity and live those common experiences that bind us as nurses.
So in short, I am not sure where the right answer lies. I do think we as a profession will have a better understanding as our appreciation for the DNP in the greater health care landscape continues evolve.
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