Hi Nurse Beth,
I recently started an FNP program. My career goal is to work primary care in a rural setting. I was accepted to the DNP program, but I can choose to stop after the MN. Getting the DNP would be an extra year of school and an extra $32,000 dollars, both of which would be a huge additional strain. I do not plan to teach, do research, or do policy work in the future--I just want to give great primary care to my patients.
Will having a DNP help me with this goal? I hear conflicting things from my instructors and the internet. Some say DNPs make more money, others say they do not. Some say DNPs are more competitive and that if I apply for my dream job in primary care with a MN I could lose it to someone with a DNP, others say it won't matter at all. I initially applied for the DNP because I wanted the extra 700 hours of clinical experience before I got a lot of responsibility, and I am afraid that in a rural, underserved setting I might get a lot of responsibility very quickly. Some o f my instructors tell me I'll be thrown in with little guidance (in which case the extra clinical hours would make me feel more comfortable) and others say I will be closely monitored and mentored for the first year (in which case I don't feel like I would need the DNP).
So my questions are, do DNPs make more? Are they more competitive for what I want to do? Will I have guidance and mentorship that first year? What do you think I should do?
Dear DNP vs Masters,
I think decisions to pursue higher education include some intrinsic motivations that are personal and can't be quantified. So...I can't speak to those,
but your primary motivation is to practice and help people as an NP.
You do not need a DNP for that. NPs are in in demand in rural areas. When negotiating for a job, be clear about what support/oversight/resources you can expect. Don't let fear hold you back from starting practice, instead remember that you can do it just like many before you with equal training have done.
Making more money with a DNP is certainly possible, but it depends on the region, job, and employer. In many cases, you are paid to perform the job and not for additional academic degrees. Balancing the (potential) increased salary with increased school expenses and loss of income is tricky and not entirely predictable.
You do not not have to decide now- going back to school is always an option.