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Best Entry Point for Graduate Teaching


Hello everyone -

I am in the midst of a DNP program in Health Systems Leadership (will be done next summer) and practice as a full-time FNP in the rural primary care setting. I would very much like to be an online professor for either a MSN or DNP program in a part-time capacity upon completion of my degree. I have previous experience working as a clinical adjunct nursing instructor at the ADN level but have not really served as a full-time educator in an academic setting.

In looking at some job listings around the country for positions consistent with what I'm looking at in the future, I have some concern with most requiring some kind of previous experience teaching. It should come to no one's surprise that online teaching with an MSN is quite difficult as there just aren't hardly any jobs for undergrad that are available online.

I'm interested in hearing from others who have had similar teaching interests and situations and were successful in getting in the door, or those who might be in the same situation and what you have done. Also would like to hear from those in the education community about entry into the field and how one might overcome the experience deficit given the present market forces.

All the best,

Darth Practicus, FNP :)

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 40 years experience.

Does your program have any coursework in education? It seems that neither your MSN or DNP are preparing you for a role in academia. That could be extremely problematic.

Hi mmj -

Well, as you are aware, the AACN DNP Core Essentials mandate preparation in the role of educator. I did complete 3 additional courses in the concepts of curriculum design, academic issues, and topics in nursing education. My concern is more directed at hands-on experience. Any advice?


Darth Practicus, FNP


Has 2 years experience.

You could be a preceptor for new grad FNPs, and after you've gotten great reviews, try to teach as an adjunct for those schools.

Or you could teach in an online RN-BSN program, then move on to graduate education.

Hi Zyprexa -

The issue is the sheer shortage of such positions. I've applied to 10 openings for RN-BSN over the past year and never get further than that. It's pretty frustrating when all you hear is how much of a shortage there is of nurse educators, lol.



meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 40 years experience.

I think the clinical, face-to-face adjunct route is the way to go. EVERYBODY wants online right now, but without experience it's a crap shoot. The for-profits seem to have constant turnover. I work for a non-profit 100% online program, and we are inundated with applicants.


Specializes in Telemetry, nursing education, FNP. Has 11 years experience.

Darth, did you happen to attend Chamberlain for your DNP? I was just online looking at the curriculum and noticed the "health systems leadership" language was the same as your post.

If so, I'd love to get your thoughts on the program!



Hey there - Sorry I missed your post, mcleanstrong. I am presently doing the Health Systems Leadership DNP through Chamberlain, so you have a keen eye.

If I were be perfectly honest, I'm just not all that impressed with the core curriculum of the DNP. I don't fault Chamberlain for this. My professors, all save one that is, have been exceptional and helpful in building knowledge. The material just isn't all that interesting. The first couple classes are like Nursing Theory on steroids and I felt my rate of male-pattern baldness accelerating in each of the first two classes. The leadership class, usually third in the program, was fairly relevant and had some crunchier topics for conversation. I'm just starting Population Health, and this class seems to have more to it than just a couple papers and weeks of discussion topics to endure, so that's promising.

It's terribly expensive, but Chamberlain has some nice perks such as being online, flexible in hours, strong technical support team, and a great team of educators. I really like the 8-week class versus the 16-weekers I had to choke down in my MSN.

If you think in terms of analogies, I would say that the DNP is to the MSN what the BSN is the ADN. It builds contexts, broader understandings, and a better global view of healthcare and how it affects patients. It does not really teach you to be a better clinician. There's nothing truly technical that a DNP-prepared FNP might do that a MSN-prepared FNP would not aside from having a better understanding of things at the systems level.

Hope this helps. I welcome any other questions you might have via PM if you have any.

Darth Practicus, FNP


Specializes in Telemetry, nursing education, FNP. Has 11 years experience.

Thanks, Darth. I tried to PM you just now, but apparently you cannot PM anyone on this site unless you have a minimum of 15 posts, and I'm a bit short. :/

Thanks for your reply re: Chamberlain. I especially appreciate the analogy between ADN->BSN vs MSN->DNP.

Would you mind if I emailed you a few questions I have, specific to the program?



You sure can! Go comment a few more times and we can connect easier. I was shy on posts as well.


Darth, I feel for you - we are constantly hearing about the shortage of teachers and yet there seems to be a bottleneck to pass through for those with advanced degrees to gain entry to the teaching positions.

I have an MSN in Nursing Education and have taught as a clinical adjunct for over five years, but faculty positions at the BSN or higher level all are asking for a terminal degree, either the DNP or PhD, or possibly an EdD. Either way I look at it, it spells a lot more time and money from me to make that next leap. I ventured into teaching a bit in an ADN for-profit school, but did not like the churn and burn pace. The money was also not great.

You will, no doubt, be in a better position with your DNP than those of us with paltry MSNs or clinical teaching experience. If you really want hands-on experience, take a clinical group as an adjunct, or teach a class for one of the for-profit schools. It won't be a glamorous time, probably! But it's hard for me to imagine competing for a faculty position against someone with a DNP, even with my experience. Those letters really talk, Darth!

Check out Western Governors University. They usually have a long page-full of openings for online faculty. They do not have a DNP program yet, but I found their MSN program affordable and good.

Best wishes! Jen-Marie

Jen - I appreciate the response. You have hit the nail on the head. It's kind of ridiculous. I will check out WGU. Definitely looking to get started with teaching this fall.

I agree that if you're a full time educator, it might not seem like the investment is worth it. Will you even see much of a return on that investment? This is a barrier to a lot of people, I think.

Darth Practicus, NP


Specializes in Occ. Hlth, Education, ICU, Med-Surg.

If I had obtained my Doctorate when I was teaching I would have received a raise of $774/year. The lowest cost program I looked at would have been $30,000 minimum to complete. It would have taken 38.75 years to just recoup just the cost of the program before I would have seen a return on my investment.

Teaching requires an immense personal and professional commitment in exchange for extremely poor compensation but high personal satisfaction. Just depends on what you're looking for personally and professionally...

My 2 cents...you definitely need to be seeking a doctoral degree for personal satisfaction or to meet a personal goal. If you're doing it for money or prestige you are wasting your time.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 43 years experience.

My 2 cents...you definitely need to be seeking a doctoral degree for personal satisfaction or to meet a personal goal. If you're doing it for money or prestige you are wasting your time.

I definitely agree with this. Doctoral education is different from the Bachelor's and Master's levels. It requires internal motivation -- at least it does if you are going to do it right.

The same could be said of obtaining a BSN over an ADN. A lot of people will not go that extra distance because of the cost ratio. I think the vast number of people seeking a BSN do so because of it being required for entry into advanced nursing practice. That's my experience in talking with a number of people at least.

It's a profession-wide problem.

And it's not about compensation, although we all consider it at one point or another. It's about just being able to get into the academic setting for me, which is the point of the opening question.

Darth Practicus, NP


Specializes in Hospital medicine; NP precepting; staff education. Has 19 years experience.

I agree with Darth about the DNP from Walden, too. I'm getting it for a personal goal of having a terminal degree. I may teach at some point, but I see myself more of a practicum preceptor teaching than a class room. But you never know.

I reviewed a friend's paper for her BSN and I enjoyed giving her pointers on writing a stronger paper, but her content was good. There's a time when editing papers and teaching passive vs. active writing and APA issues would be dull for me. You would think at a master's and doctoral level there would be less need to reinforce these precepts, but sadly, no.

My "peers" in my doctoral classes do not all possess the same grasp of writing that I do.(native speakers, I'll say, not the foreign students because that's a different kettle of fish). Granted, I am not the shiniest star in that, but I'm getting there. Let's say I'm perhaps 1.5 to 2 sigma above the mean.

At any rate, I'm finding (through my husband's doctoral proposal process) that it doesn't matter anyway because crafting that monstrosity puts you at the whim of your chair and committee so if they want some things a certain way, you do it just so you can get approved, defended, and graduated.