MSN to DNP Bridge Programs

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MSN to DNP Bridge Programs

The DNP, or Doctor of Nursing Practice degree is a “terminal” degree for nurses.

That means that this is one of the highest degrees in the field of nursing.

Many nurses pursue the DNP to obtain leadership roles and demonstrate their expertise in the field.

Is an MSN to DNP Program Right for Me?

Nurses with a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) can move their career up by earning a DNP degree.

They may expand their practice by getting a certification in a new population-specific focus, as a nurse specialist, educator, nurse administrator, or change their focus entirely.

For instance, adult-gerontology nurse practitioners can become certified in psych/mental health or women’s health to work with a wider range of patients.

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A pediatric nurse practitioner can become a clinical nurse specialist and use their knowledge to educate others.

It may be surprising that nurses would like to earn a DNP instead of a post-graduate certificate or dual MSN.

This decision can be completely individual depending on the career and academic goals of a nurse.

Some are looking for more theoretical-based education or wish to complete a thesis project, or just desire a sense of fulfillment by earning a more advanced nursing degree.

Despite the reason for which nurses seek to earn a DNP, there are many schools offering programs that help meet these goals.

Types of MSN to DNP Programs

Depending on the school, you can find both online and on-campus MSN to DNP programs.

The specialties can vary from school to school, but usually include:

  • Nurse Practitioner:
    • Adult-Gerontology.
    • Pediatrics.
    • Women’s Health/OBGYN.
    • Neonatal.
    • Family Medicine.
    • Psychiatry/Mental Health.
    • Dual degree options.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist:
    • Psychiatry/Mental Health.
    • Adult-Gerontology.
    • Family Medicine.
    • Pediatrics.
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
  • Executive Nurse Leadership/Management/Administration.
  • Clinical Nurse Leadership.
  • Nurse-Midwifery.

What Are the Prerequisites for an MSN to DNP Program?

Specific requirements and prerequisites are determined by each school for students to enroll in a DNP program.

General requirements are:

  • Provide letters of recommendation.
  • Hold specialty certification as an APRN.
  • Current licensure as a registered nurse or APRN.
  • Hold an MSN from a nationally accredited school or university.
  • Have completed a statistics course.
  • Provide a statement of purpose, resume, and/or CV.
  • Have maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher in an MSN program (specific GPA requirements vary between schools).
  • Provide transcripts from all educational institutions attended.
  • Complete an interview process with faculty.

The list above comprises examples of what may be required for an MSN to DNP program admission.

Prospective students should determine specific criteria before they apply.

Are Clinical Hours Required for the MSN to DNP Program?

MSN to DNP students should usually complete a number of clinical hours to earn the degree.

The typical requirement is 1,000 hours after the BSN.

Most candidates for DNP complete this requirement during their MSN program, and many schools count those hours toward the DNP requirement.

MSN to DNP students typically have to complete about 500 hours remained to graduate.

Is Online MSN to DNP Programs Available?

Most nurses holding an MSN are already employed in various fields.

If they wish to earn a DNP, they need to find a program with a flexible schedule to accommodate their work as well.

DNP programs are available online, on-campus, and as a hybrid of the two.

Some programs are fully online, and some are almost completely online except for the possibly mandatory orientation visit to campus or admission interview.

You should remember that clinical hours are usually a requirement as well, depending on the focus of the degree.

How Long Does MSN to DNP Programs Take to Complete?

Basically, an MSN to DPN program takes about one or two years on average to complete.

However, some factors can influence the duration when it comes to estimating the time necessary for DNP completion.

Some nurses choose part-time programs, which take longer to complete.

Some specialties or programs can be shorter or longer as well, depending on the focus.

Also, a thesis project may be required, which can influence the duration as well.

Luckily, most schools list clear details on credit hours, thesis requirements, and if the part-time attendance is possible.

What Is the Cost to Complete an MSN to DNP Program?

The costs for the MSN to DNP programs vary as well.

They depend on the school, state, city, specialty, and the type of program (on-campus or online).

There are additional costs including university fees, supplies, commuting and parking.

Schools that offer such programs usually list the detailed cost breakdowns on their sites as well.

For example, the DNP program at Duke University School of Nursing costs $13,417 per semester on average.

However, additional fees are involved as well, such as transcripts, technology, and graduation fees, health fee, and other expenses.

At most schools, the financial aid is available to help MSN nurses with the expenses for such programs.

What Is the MSN to DNP Curriculum Like?

The curriculum of the MSN to DNP program can be different depending on the school and specialty.

The curriculum listed at the Vanderbilt University website includes the following:

  • Evidenced-base practice.
  • Statistics.
  • Informatics.
  • Epidemiology.
  • Health policy.
  • Healthcare economics.
  • Quality improvement.
  • Organizations and systems management.
  • Ethics.

Besides, to demonstrate that students can apply theoretical concepts in real life, they should complete a DNP project as well.

Are Any Exams Required Before I Can Practice?

If the DNP graduate changes specialties, then an exam is required.

For instance, if a family NP with an MSN degree studies for a DNP in the pediatrics, they will have to re-certify as a pediatric NP.

They can do it through a certification agency, such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Certification is required to be licensed as an NP, Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Nurse Specialist, or Nurse Midwife.

Where Can I Work With a DNP?

Nurses with a DNP can work anywhere.

Commonly, they are employed at the following institutions:

  • Hospitals.
  • Private physician’s offices.
  • Clinics.
  • Birthing centers.
  • Surgery Centers.

How Much Money Will I Earn as a DNP?

PayScale reports that the average salary of a DNP-educated nurse is approximately $102,000 per year.

They also break down the list by average costs per NP specialties, ranging from $89,241 (Pediatric NP) to $105,564 (Psychiatric NP).

The Salary website reports the average salary for a nurse anesthetist, which is one of the highest-paid in among the APRN specialties, to be $183,121.

However, in terms of salary, many factors can influence it.

DNP salaries are based on location, experience, and employer.

Besides, with specialty certifications, compensation can be even higher.

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