I was just awarded a MSN from SFSU. Whew!! I may not understand all the differences between DNP, MSN, PhD, but basically we are all RNs with advanced degrees. My understanding is that after a Bachelors degree the options for advanced nursing degrees are: MSN and/or DNP. After an MSN, the options are PhD. After a DNP, there are not any direct options, and if one wants a PhD after a DNP, they would have to go back and get their MSN.
So, to me, a DNP is more like a terminal masters degree. Same length of education as an MSN. Similar in focus and topical content. However, the DNP is not equivalent to a PhD, because with a PhD, the nurse is prepared to conduct research, whereas with the DNP, like the MSN, the nurse is prepared to review and evaluate research, but not conduct it.
There are many other nuances and differences and it can be very complicated to understand the variances and variables, but to be again general, an RN is an RN and some RNs have advanced practice preparation.