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DNP Answers

Making the Grade

Published June 25, 2014 9:23 AM by Deanna McCarthy

As you may have noticed from my bio, I am a DNP student. I already have my master's as a clinical nurse specialist in critical care, but I am working toward the DNP degree and the right to sit for the CRNP exam. My goal is to become a family nurse practitioner, which is a long way from the patients I used to take care of in the cardiothoracic SICU. I remember when I first started my job as a Heart Transplant Coordinator and didn't even know what most of the medications were because they were oral, not parenteral, medications.

This past semester has been my most challenging yet because I had Pharmacology for the Advance Practitioner and Physical Assessment. Although it was the most challenging semester in my nursing education, it taught me a valuable lesson: what I was learning was much more important than the grade that I would earn for the course.

I think as nurses we look to others for their approval and that is why the "grade" is so important to us. Maybe I should have learned this lesson while I was pursuing my undergraduate or graduate degrees, but, alas, I did not. Studying to become a CRNP, to me, is a whole different thing. When you are a CRNP you really are making independent decisions that you usually don't make as an RN. That is why making the grade is important, but learning the material is critical.

For a long time I thought they should have just "grandfathered" the CNSs into the CRNP role. I'm not totally convinced that I couldn't have performed well as an Acute Care Adult CRNP, but I can see some of the reasons why that never happened.

I am not taking any courses this summer, but it does not mean I have the summer off. Of course, I still have to work, so I can pay for my tuition, but I am also continuing to study Pharmacology and Physical Assessment because I don't want to lose what I have learned. I also feel like I did not have the time to learn all of the things I felt were important to learn. Why didn't I have the time to learn all of the things that I felt were important to learn during the semester? Because there are only so many hours in a day and because I was just trying to make the grade.

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