If you have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or are currently pursing one, you have initiated what can be an incredibly rewarding career that includes nearly limitless opportunities to advance, specialize, and hone your professional experience. Nursing careers are diverse and can be tailored to satisfy a wide variety of interests, career preferences, work styles, and goals. One way of advancing into higher levels of responsibility, technical care, and salary possibilities is through earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). A DNP can be earned in several concentration areas – one of the most popular being Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP). This article will help explain the nuances of this degree type, help you decide whether this could be a good fit for your unique skill sets and career aspirations, and help you map out your process for pursuing this degree efficiently.
Earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
There are a number of postgraduate degrees available to BSN’s that can help advance their careers. Why pursue a DNP? Other degrees can sometimes be quicker, easier, or less expensive. A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree allows some of the same advancement opportunities a DNP can provide. Why not simply get an MSN and save the hassle of earning a DNP?
The average level of education amongst nurses is advancing across the nursing workforce in the United States. As the market continues to shift and develop, employers and administrative bodies are encouraging more and more nurses to earn postgraduate degrees. As more and more nursing professionals earn higher degrees and as competition rises for better roles, it is projected that the Master’s degree will become the new Bachelor’s degree for nurses in the coming decade. Earning a DNP, therefore, is a way of anticipating this shift in the workforce and strategically positioning yourself ahead of the curve. This eliminates the likelihood that, if you were to earn an MSN degree, you may have to return to school and earn a DNP to stay competitive in the coming years.
Another reason completing a DNP program can be to your advantage is that DNP’s are qualified to perform much higher, more comprehensive, and more technical components of patient care. Whether this looks like being able to perform more complicated and advanced procedures or being equipped to treat patients in general practices more autonomously or without the oversight of a practicing MD, a DNP can operate in a much more independent manner than an MSN can.
Because BSN to DNP programs exist that can advance you directly from having your Bachelor’s degree to completing a Doctorate program without needing a separate MSN, this can actually be an efficient and strategic option to position yourself for success.
The Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) – What is An FNP?
As mentioned above, a Family Nurse Practitioner is a specialization within the DNP degree. The FNP has been trained to address specific needs that individuals might experience within the family context. FNP’s are equipped to work with individuals that range from infants to seniors, and to treat a wide variety of health conditions and needs. FNP’s often practice either within an outpatient clinic setting or within a hospital. FNP’s may operate independently or with another medical professional (like an MD).
The individuals that often excel as FNP’s are interested in a wide variety of medical needs and practice areas. They can communicate effectively and empathetically with a diverse population, and a range of different people from young to old. Both those that prefer team-oriented work settings and those that prefer to work more independently can find their niche in FNP practice.
How to Pursue a DNP-FNP
If you are currently working towards a BSN, the most expedient way to pursue a DNP is to look for a BSN program that has a FNP to DNP online emphasis or academic track. These programs can eliminate the need to earn an MSN before being able to pursue a DNP program. This expedites your process and can save you time and money in the long run.
Online programs also afford you a few other benefits over more conventional in-person postgraduate programs. First, they can allow you to continue working in your current role or setting rather than forcing you to give it up to pursue the degree program instead. Second, online programs can make programs available to you that are well outside your geographical reach. Thus, rather than being limited to the institutions that are within a distance you could travel regularly, you can pursue programs across the country (or even beyond) as long as they meet the qualifications you’re looking for and provide a good fit for your lifestyle, aspirations, and career needs.
If you decide to pursue a BSN to DNP program, your next step is to hone in on the program(s) you’d like to pursue and begin the application process. As you research programs, confirm that the programs you’re looking at will qualify you in the state you plan to practice in after completing your degree. Confirm as well that you meet any application requirements and are aware of any prerequisites or additional things you’ll need to complete or do before being eligible as a candidate. Checking work experience requirements, GPA minimums, and more will help you avoid applying for a program you won’t be eligible for.