Current MSN Students and the DNP Transition
Q: Do you have any idea what will happen to students who are in the process of obtaining an MSN when this switch occurs? I will probably be in this situation, so I am trying to find out if I should wait to start my graduate degree until I can just enroll in a DNP program, or if I will be okay as long as I have begun an MSN program by 2015.
A: Dear reader, the transition to the DNP program by 2015 is a recommendation and not a mandate for NP programs. At this time a MSN NP program has the option to remain a master’s-level program or transition to a DNP program by the time 2015 rolls around. A student who is enrolled in an MSN NP program that has no plan to transition to a DNP program will likely experience no significant changes. Also, the educational eligibility requirements for NP national certification by the ANCC (American Nurses Credentialing Center) and the AANP (American Academy of Nurse Practitioners) have not changed. The requirement continues to be that one has graduated from an accredited master’s, post-master’s, or doctoral program. Those who graduated from an MSN NP program will be able to function and be employed according to your state rules and regulations in 2015 and thereafter.
With this said, a significant number of MSN programs are transitioning or planning to transition to a DNP program. I would be more concerned with someone who plans to enroll in a program in transition. One needs to understand the individual program’s expectations and rules associated with the transition. Some institutions may convert a MSN to a DNP program, but continue to allow students to opt out by awarding a master’s degree. Some institutions may set a date to transition to a doctoral program and allow those who are already enrolled in a master’s program a certain amount of time to complete their education. I recommend that you explore various programs and ask specific questions to determine which program is a best fit for you. Ask questions such as, does the program have any plans to transition from a master’s to a DNP program? If so, when and how will this transition occur? What will happen to those MSN students already enrolled? What options do they offer students (for example, whether to continue with the master’s plan of study or transition to the DNP)? How long do students have before they need to complete their program of study? Also, consider prerequisites and how frequently courses may be offered. Sometimes certain courses are only offered at a set time/semester due to limited student enrollment or limited faculty resources. This can lead to delays in program completion. Furthermore, it is a good idea to ask about how an MSN student may transition into a DNP program of study in case one decides to pursue a DNP instead.
There are many options if you want to become an NP. It is a good idea to consider your career goals, personal aspirations and available resources when choosing between a MSN and a DNP program. No matter what, I congratulate you on your decision and I wish you well on your journey to “NP-hood.”
Editor's note: Here at the DNP Answers blog we take your questions about the DNP and answer them as best we can. This question is answered by blogger Mai Kung, NP, a recent DNP graduate. Comment below to discuss this topic, or send new questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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