BSN-DNP yes or no?

Updated | Posted
by lizdimi54873 lizdimi54873 (New) New Nurse

Specializes in rehab/float. Has 2 years experience.

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I know there are other threads regarding this topic, I've looked through some of them but didn't find any life changing answers. I'm just looking for some advice because I don't have many people in my circle who understand the healthcare field or who can really give me any educated advice. 

First off, I was accepted into a BSN-DNP program 20 mins away from where I currently live. I'm so happy to have been accepted, but now I have some real life questions holding me back from moving forward. I Need to give my answer in 2 days. 

First off, it is mostly on campus. I think there may be one or 2 classes online but as far as I know, 100% campus. I have to move about an hour or more away due to my husbands new job, which will be next year. in this program I probably won't be able to work after the first year or 2 so commuting only to school isn't a huge deal but still will be rough. 

Also, I talk to coworkers here and there and it seems there is a big group of people that feel you can make more as an RN and there isn't a huge need to push into a higher level career. it isn't all about money for me, but I do want a career that is sustainable for my lifetime and in my mind as an NP, financially as well as career wise it seems that once you achieve the terminal degree you are set in terms of a solid career. I know some people who went back to school later in life and now are NP but don't even make what they are making as an RN so it's almost backwards. 

The other thing is starting a family. I don't want to wait 4 years so I will end up with a child during the program. I have read some really uplifting stories of people making it work with children and school, and though no-one can tell me what I can handle, I just wanted to know if others have had this dilemma of when to start school vs when to start a family or doing both. 

And finally, part of why I'm so torn is that this is a really good program and I work for the hospital that is attached to the school so I have very good reasons to pick this program. I'm afraid if I turn it down and then choose say an online school or something more convenient, I may be doing a disservice to my education. Are there really "good" and "bad" schools? Do they care when you finish NP school (I should specify, I'm going into an acute care NP Program), which one you went to? Some of us need cheaper options and I can't imagine every NP is going to the top schools or can afford to. 

I appreciate any and all advice. Also, added info about me, I'm in the acute care float pool at a level 1 trauma hospital, starting a job in the trauma ICU this month to add to my experience. 

Thanks ! 

ThePrincessBride, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 7 years experience. 1 Article; 2,549 Posts

There is a lot to unpack here, but let me start by asking a few questions:

1. How old are you? What is the rush in wanting to have kids during what will probably be a rigorous program?

I just finished my MSN for FNP from a highly reputable state school. I started the program at 28 and finished at 30. I am currently pregnant with my first child. I planned to get pregnant during my last semester and to be honest, it was tough. I have had really bad morning sickness that almost compromised my ability to finish clinicals...and I was only in my first trimester at the time. You don't know how your pregnancy will be...you may have to drop out if you have a difficult pregnancy.

2. Yes, you can make more as an RN...but if your sole reasoning to become an NP is just for money, then yeah, you should probably reconsider your decision. I chose it because I am tired of bedside and the BS and wanted to grow professionally. Also, when a lot of RNs say they make more money than NPs, many are working tons of hours, including their differentials, bonuses, OR they are comparing a 20 year RN salary to a new grad NP's salary, which isn't an apples to apples comparison.

I personally KNOW I will make more (like 20k more) working at 32 hours a week at a retail clinic as a new grad NP doing far less physical work than working 36 hours per week (including differentials) as an acute care RN with 7 years of experience. My goal is to work less for more, not more for more.

3.  If you are really wanting to go to school, it is best to pick the best one you can get into. Some employers may not care where you went to school, but you should care about the quality of your education, and let's face it: NP education is variable. Some are better than others. Some employers will NOT hire NPs from certain programs due to their terrible reputation. You want to get the best education you can so you can be better prepared to take care of your patients.

lizdimi54873

lizdimi54873

Specializes in rehab/float. Has 2 years experience. 7 Posts

@ThePrincessBride

I appreciate your response! First, I should clarify, I thought I did in my prior post, that money is not my ultimate goal. However, it is a huge part of weighing out whether I want to purse  a higher level degree or not. Not to mention the cost of tuition, I need to justify that with the payback rate of my new career if I decide to pursue. The main reason I bring up money is because so many long term RNs have told me they make more than nps and that is their reason to not go back to school. It's hard to find out if that is really true but like you said, comparing a 20 + year career with a new grad NP doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I want to bee educated, whether I stay as an RN or whether I'm an NP. My biggest problem with my "teaching hospital" that I work at is that they don't care about RN's getting higher education. There is no incentive to stay in the role of RN and go get more education such as bachelor's or master's. It's a shame because I think we should all want to learn more and ALSO be paid according to the amount of work we put into continuing education. 

Me starting a family is  a personal choice. I've thought about it alot, believe me I'm not rushing into this. I'm 28 looking at a 4 year program. We have some fertility issues, so I want to be younger and healthy starting out my family. I don't believe this should impact other's opinions about my career choice, I just wanted some input about people who have had to balance work and kids and school. I appreciate what you said about having a difficult pregnancy though, that is definitely something to consider. 

I will definitely take into consideration what you said about the school I pick as well! I agree that the education is important and I do want to take pride in where and how I was educated. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

AlwaysTiredNP

AlwaysTiredNP, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 10 years experience. 34 Posts

I enjoy being an NP and I was ready to leave bedside nursing but still wanted to stay in the clinical environment. I personally make more money than I did as an RN. 

Now is a good time to tune into your why and not listen to any of the outside noise and negativity because there is plenty of it. So many disgruntled, and burned out NPs will tell you not to do it, and you shouldn’t avoid a career path based on the bad experience of someone else. Likewise you shouldn’t do it because someone else says it’s an amazing thing to do either. 

Just know that the over saturation of NPs is a myth, a literal myth. There’s a lot of jobs out there, you just need to know where to look. You can absolutely make more money than you did as an RN and comparing crisis travel RN contracts to NP salaries is like comparing apples to oranges. 

As far as schools go, if you do end up choosing another one stay away from for profits. There’s nothing wrong with online programs but make sure it is one that a long standing, well established brick and mortar university has added to an already successful on campus program. Also choose a school that sets up clinicals for you. I wish we would stop giving money to these universities that didn’t set up clinicals for us but that’s a different conversation.

If you want to be an NP (DNP or otherwise) do it because it’s what you want to do. That’s it. Ignore the negativity. There is a lot of it out there.

ThePrincessBride, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 7 years experience. 1 Article; 2,549 Posts

3 hours ago, lizdimi54873 said:

@ThePrincessBride

I appreciate your response! First, I should clarify, I thought I did in my prior post, that money is not my ultimate goal. However, it is a huge part of weighing out whether I want to purse  a higher level degree or not. Not to mention the cost of tuition, I need to justify that with the payback rate of my new career if I decide to pursue. The main reason I bring up money is because so many long term RNs have told me they make more than nps and that is their reason to not go back to school. It's hard to find out if that is really true but like you said, comparing a 20 + year career with a new grad NP doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I want to bee educated, whether I stay as an RN or whether I'm an NP. My biggest problem with my "teaching hospital" that I work at is that they don't care about RN's getting higher education. There is no incentive to stay in the role of RN and go get more education such as bachelor's or master's. It's a shame because I think we should all want to learn more and ALSO be paid according to the amount of work we put into continuing education. 

Me starting a family is  a personal choice. I've thought about it alot, believe me I'm not rushing into this. I'm 28 looking at a 4 year program. We have some fertility issues, so I want to be younger and healthy starting out my family. I don't believe this should impact other's opinions about my career choice, I just wanted some input about people who have had to balance work and kids and school. I appreciate what you said about having a difficult pregnancy though, that is definitely something to consider. 

I will definitely take into consideration what you said about the school I pick as well! I agree that the education is important and I do want to take pride in where and how I was educated. 

Thanks so much for taking the time to respond!

Understood. Money is certainly important. How much would this school cost you? How much debt would you have to take on? I know some people in my program who have had to take 60k+ in student loans, if not more. I personally would not have pursued an NP with student loans, and am fortunate that I have graduated without debt (my employer covered 100% tuition, I was just responsible for books and fees) and was able to continue to work, build my retirement savings, etc. 

When making the decision, you also have to think about quality of life. While I am sure there are some disgruntled NPs, the turnover in bedside (which pays more than other fields of non-Masters degree nursing) is high. Satisfaction is low, and the work is back breaking.

This may sound terrible, but I am so tired of caring for people who don't care for themselves, being asked to ruin myself physically for 600+ plus patients, dealing with the rude behavior and noncompliance and silly management. While I'm sure NPs have to deal with some of that nonsense, NPs have more autonomy and, in certain practices, can "fire" a patient for unacceptable behavior and noncompliance. As an RN, you don't have any power, but so much responsibility.

As for family planning...is there a way you could stop at the MSN level, take a year or two off, and then return for the DNP? I purposely chose the MSN. I was able to go part-time, still work, and in less than three years (I think 33 months). If you went full-time, you could finish in two.

While I do know some people who have juggled school, work and children, many have struggled or they had older kids. A baby would be challenging. I know you want to be younger and healthier with a baby...32 is still young, but I appreciate your concerns. If you are having fertility issues, I would strongly consider putting school on hold all together, build your family, and then go back to school when your kids are a little older.  No rush in having to come back now. I was your age when I started and there were people older than me in the program. 

lizdimi54873

lizdimi54873

Specializes in rehab/float. Has 2 years experience. 7 Posts

@AlwaysTiredNP Thanks for your input! I really appreciate you bringing up the saturated NP market bit because I hear so much about it but then when I research more it says the profession is due to grow by like 20% so it never made sense to me. And I definitely agree with not listening to the negativity! I will definitely take that into consideration. Thank you so much for your help!

lizdimi54873

lizdimi54873

Specializes in rehab/float. Has 2 years experience. 7 Posts

@ThePrincessBride I have thought about the masters first and then DNP after. I looked into some programs and I do like that some of them are online or hybrid. But then I got into this program that is competitive and supposed to be very good so I have been wrestling with the decision. Also the idea of getting it all done in 1 shot sounds great. But I think I should reconsider how the masters program will allow me to finish and practice sooner as well as be a little more manageable for me. I do appreciate your input about family planning, I definitely am going to consider how difficult the programs will be and what type of flexibility I want. I appreciate all your help!

pinkandpurple

pinkandpurple

Specializes in Geriatrics, Psych. Has 3 years experience. 6 Posts

Is there an increase in pay for DNP vs Masters level? I would probably do the MSN so you can start your family without a strenuous program.

Golden_RN

Golden_RN, MSN

557 Posts

What about an MSN other than NP (education, admin etc.)?  If RNs make more than NPs (I think it's sometimes like this in my area too), but you want an advanced degree, consider this.  You might be done in a couple years, which allows more flexibility in family planning, and you might find a program with less in-class time.

NurseFries

NurseFries, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pain Medicine, Preop/PACU, Home Health, Hospice. Has 11 years experience. 29 Posts

I recommend you chose the least expensive and flexible program especially if you want to start having kids during it. I wouldn’t worry about school pedigree. That doesn’t seem to matter in what I have seen. What I have seen in my more than a decade of nursing is that higher education is more important than the school chosen.  Don’t feel guilty for choosing another program over the one associated with your hospital. You don’t owe them anything and it won’t matter in the grand  scheme of things. With that said, having a child is a lot of work, a lot of sleep deprivation, and childcare is expensive. Make sure you have childcare worked out. Make sure you have your schedule worked out so you don’t miss time with your child. You won’t get that time back. Don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s not worth it. School will always be there but the years caring and watching your child grow and learn won’t. Take care and good luck. 

AlwaysTiredNP

AlwaysTiredNP, MSN, APRN, NP

Specializes in Emergency Medicine. Has 10 years experience. 34 Posts

On 5/6/2022 at 2:14 PM, ThePrincessBride said:

This may sound terrible, but I am so tired of caring for people who don't care for themselves, being asked to ruin myself physically for 600+ plus patients, dealing with the rude behavior and noncompliance and silly management. While I'm sure NPs have to deal with some of that nonsense, NPs have more autonomy and, in certain practices, can "fire" a patient for unacceptable behavior and noncompliance. As an RN, you don't have any power, but so much responsibilit

We cannot always just fire a patient, there is still some level of abandonment associated with this. There’s also a ton of responsibility, and a ton of nonsense associated with being an NP. It’s literally the same thing just a different side of the coin. We still get abused by patients and their families, we get yelled at and told we are stupid. Just last week I got called a communist, a racist and “not a real doctor” all by angry patients. I had to have security called because someone was getting aggressive with me. I even sometimes have nurses getting mad at me too on top of things, and doctors getting mad at me and being verbally abusive. It’s a whole other mess. It’s not a better mess, it’s a different mess, that’s just as stressful with less steps associated with it at the end of the day. We are still nurses but with more responsibility on the same crazy medical roller coaster as everyone else right now.

ThePrincessBride, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 7 years experience. 1 Article; 2,549 Posts

On 5/24/2022 at 4:09 AM, AlwaysTiredNP said:

We cannot always just fire a patient, there is still some level of abandonment associated with this. There’s also a ton of responsibility, and a ton of nonsense associated with being an NP. It’s literally the same thing just a different side of the coin. We still get abused by patients and their families, we get yelled at and told we are stupid. Just last week I got called a communist, a racist and “not a real doctor” all by angry patients. I had to have security called because someone was getting aggressive with me. I even sometimes have nurses getting mad at me too on top of things, and doctors getting mad at me and being verbally abusive. It’s a whole other mess. It’s not a better mess, it’s a different mess, that’s just as stressful with less steps associated with it at the end of the day. We are still nurses but with more responsibility on the same crazy medical roller coaster as everyone else right now.

I will agree to most of what you are saying though in my clinicals, I have seen patients be let go due to behavioral issues.

Additionally, an NP, you aren't stuck with that patient for 12 hours not do you have to destroy your body for them.