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MSN to DNP Nursing Programs

Nurses who have completed MSN to DNP programs can make a major impact in the nursing world. By earning a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, you have the potential to increase your sphere of influence, career options, and earning capacity as a nurse. 

It’s true that you can already contribute to the well-being of patients as a nurse, whether you have an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). If you are a DNP graduate, though, you can take more advanced roles in direct patient care; for example, as a nurse practitioner (NP). To top things off, NPs earn an average of $111,840 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Once you have achieved a DNP degree, you will also be qualified to fill administrative positions in the health care industry. For example, you may work as a medical and health services manager, a position that enables you to earn approximately $113,730 a year. Aside from the impressive salary, a leadership role will give you the opportunity to contribute to the professional growth of other nurses and health care professionals.

Find out below how you can level up your nursing career by completing an MSN to DNP program.

What is an MSN to DNP Program?

An MSN to DNP program is a clinical doctorate program suitable for MSN degree holders. It aims to develop your advanced nursing knowledge and skills so you can become an expert in the nursing field.

According to the Medical Research Archives, a DNP program prepares you to make a positive impact on health care systems. It prepares you to perform leadership tasks, such as medical administration and management, clinical practice, nursing education, evaluation of evidence-based practice, advocacy and implementation in health policy, and more.

At present, there are DNP programs available in all 50 states in the US, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). Some schools offer a traditional program where you can attend classes in person, while some offer online programs where you can complete courses virtually.

You may choose the accredited school and program type that fits your lifestyle and personal preferences.

What are the Requirements for an MSN to DNP Program?

There are some common admission requirements that you need to enroll in an MSN to DNP program, such as:

  • MSN Degree
  • Nursing License
  • Other Certifications
  • Professional Experience
  • GRE Scores
  • Official Transcript of Records
  • Recommendation Letters
  • Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Interview

While these are the typical prerequisites, the specific qualifications may vary with each school. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the particular requirements of the college or university you are interested in.

In case you need financial aid, you should also submit the required applications for any scholarships or grants you are applying for.

What Specializations Are Available in an MSN to DNP Program?

You can select your own area of specialization when you enroll in an MSN to DNP program. Your choice depends on which advanced nursing role you are interested in in the future, as well as the tracks your school offers. Some examples of specializations are:

  • Health Innovation and Leadership
  • Adult Gerontological Care
  • Cardiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Pediatric Behavioral and Mental Health
  • Integrative Health and Healing
  • Women’s Health
  • Palliative Care

What are Common Courses in an MSN to DNP Program?

No matter what your specialization, there are typical courses you can expect to take when you enroll in an MSN to DNP program. Here are some examples of common DNP courses:

  • Advanced Nursing Roles
  • Clinical Scholarship and Professional Communication
  • Leading Organizational and Systems Change
  • Health Care Finance and Economic Policy
  • Public Policy and Advocacy in Health Care
  • Informatics and Safe and Effective Health Care

How Long Will It Take You to Earn a DNP Degree?

If you have already achieved an MSN degree, it’s possible for you to complete an MSN to DNP program in approximately one year. As an MSN graduate, you can potentially earn a DNP degree faster than nurses with less advanced degrees like an ADN or BSN.

Of course, there are various factors that can affect the time frame of your DNP education. It depends on whether you are a full-time or part-time student, or if you’ve previously accomplished a set number of clinical hours. It also depends on the school and type of program you are enrolled in.

What Nursing Roles Will You Be Qualified for After You Earn a DNP Degree?

Your career options will definitely broaden once you attain a DNP degree. Here is a list of job positions that you will qualify for after you have completed an MSN to DNP program:

Executive Leadership Roles

  • Medical and Health Services Manager / Nurse Administrator
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Clinical Educator / Nursing Instructor
  • Informatics Nurse

Direct Patient Care Roles

  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Midwife

Be aware that some of these positions also require industry-recognized certifications, which your completion of the MSN to DNP program will make you eligible to pursue.

Is a DNP Degree a Good Investment?

Earning a DNP degree certainly has its advantages. It’s no wonder that DNP programs are increasing steadily in the US over the years, as AACN’s data shows.

To be realistic, you need to invest extra effort so you can complete an MSN to DNP program. However, it is a valuable investment that lets you reap benefits in your nursing career in the years to come.

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