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BSN to DNP Programs

Those who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may be considering a BSN to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program in order to become an advanced practice nurse, clinical expert, health care executive, or policy expert. Understanding more about this degree option can help individuals determine whether this is a degree path that makes sense for them.

Why Choose a BSN to DNP?

A DNP is a terminal degree, and thus the highest educational achievement one can reach in the field of clinical nursing. Employers increasingly require a DNP to fill slots for advanced practice nurses (APNs); in fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommends that the DNP be the entry-level degree into advanced practice.

With a DNP credential, nurses have additional professional benefits including:

  • Job opportunities. DNPs are experts within their specialty areas, and may be candidates for a range of highly skilled jobs.
  • Skills development. As health care grows increasingly complex, nurses need a deeper, more sophisticated base of knowledge to succeed in their careers. The DNP is known for the rigorous educational preparation it offers students.
  • Potential. DNPs may be qualified to hold the highest-level positions in clinical nursing and are paid accordingly.
  • Cost-effective. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nurses seeking preparation as APNs should choose a DNP over a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to prepare for the higher education requirements that the future of nursing demands.
  • Of course, in order to become a DNP, individuals must be prepared to invest a significant amount of time--and money--in their studies. Students entering BSN to DNP programs should be fully committed to pursuing a rigorous academic program--and reaping the benefits that result from a high-level career in nursing.

    How to Become a DNP Student

    Those who are ready to become a Doctor of Nursing Practice would be advised to explore the admission requirements for the schools of interest. BSN to DNP degrees usually require entering students to hold a BSN and be registered nurses. Because DNP programs are academically challenging, students are often required have a grade-point average of at least a 3.0, although this requirement varies significantly from program to program. Furthermore, many schools require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores.

    BSN to DNP Program Requirements

    When one becomes a DNP student, a specialization must be selected. One’s specialization largely determines his or her coursework and clinical study. Specializations are numerous and include APN careers such as:

    • Certified nurse-midwife
    • Nurse practitioner
    • Nurse anesthetist
    • Clinical nurse specialist

    Additional specializations include:

    • Leadership
    • Administration
    • Public health
    • Informatics
    • Policy
    • Education

    BSN to DNP programs typically take three years of full-time study and up to five years for part-time study. Many programs offer courses online; some have campus requirements while others are offered fully online, with the exception of clinical requirements.

    DNP Salary Expectations

    As a Doctor of Nursing Practice, individuals may expect a good salary, depending on the specialty.

    DNP Job Outlook

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that advanced practice nurses are increasingly stepping in as low-cost primary care physicians, particularly in under-served areas. The increased demand for quality, lower-cost care has increased the demand for nurses with high levels of expertise who can provide this level of care.

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