BSN to MSN without RN experience?

Specialties NP


I am currently an undergraduate pursuing my BSN degree. I was told that starting in 2015 all NP will have to get their doctorate, as opposed to just their masters. I know I want to become a NP but do not graduate with my BSN until 2012. For this reason, I was thinking about applying to a masters program right after I graduate. I intend on working full time and going to school full time (ideally). However, I was reading another forum that said some nurses who have their masters can't get a NP position and are have to gain experience as a RN first (even though they have their masters). If I work while getting my masters could I find a NP job or will I most likely still need more experience as a RN?

I have also looked into many MSN programs - some require a minimum work experience upon acceptance and some do not- so I know that getting into a program without experience will not be an issue.

Any insight on this topic would be greatly appreciated


38,333 Posts

It makes sense that they would want one to have experience before pursuing the next level of education and licensure. We had someone in our class (BSN) who was accepted into an MSN program without a single day of healthcare experience at any level. Her attitude at the time clearly was that of someone who didn't want to work as a nurse. She was a little bit older than most and was still living with her parents. Believe this one was not typical. Am sure that you are not like this. You need to be careful, though, about trying to work full time and do your MSN studies at the same time. It will be difficult to get your feet on the ground as a new nurse at the same time you are going to school. Good luck with your future plans.

allnurses Guide

BCgradnurse, MSN, RN, NP

1,678 Posts

Specializes in allergy and asthma, urgent care.

Does your school have a 5 year program that gives you the BSN and then the MSN with one additional year of full time study? Then you could have the schooling out of the way and then decide if you want to work as an RN first or go right into an NP job. It is possible to be successful as an NP without RN experience, although you'll find those who say it can't be done.

You might be able to work part time as an RN as you work on your MS, if that's what you want to do, but full time might be a stretch. A full time MSN program takes a lot of time, both in and out of school. It's good that you're thinking about it now, so you have time to plan.

Good luck!

Editorial Team / Admin


17 Articles; 44,720 Posts

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Here is a thread about becoming an NP with little to no nursing experience:


67 Posts

Thanks for your responses - unfortunately my school doesn't have a 5 year accelerated program. But thank you for your responses. They were helpful and I will definitely look into the links posted.

Specializes in Psych NP student.


First, to answer your thoughts about getting into a Master's Program without RN experience, 's Bridge Program is designed to take non-RN college grads to Nurse Practitioner in two years. The only clinical nursing experience required is your coursework clinicals.

The reason I mention that is because Vandy is very friendly to applicants without paid nursing experience. They have the new DNP program, and I would bet you can go from RN to DNP fairly quickly here.

Three things to consider:

There is a significant different between getting a PhD in nursing and getting your DNP - one is academic focused, one is practice focused. While watching laws go through, keep that in mind.

Also, if you look at the Vandy model for this program, keep in mind there are very likely other schools that do (or soon will) offer the same thing.

We get a lot of speakers (from Vandy) who are telling us the same thing about requiring the DNP to practice as a Nurse Practitioner. THEY ARE SELLING THEIR DNP PROGRAM! A few years ago there was some chatter about requiring all RNs to have a BSN to practice. That never happened, and the chatter has died down.

Please don't panic!

Check out the Vandy website if you'd like., and watch the American Nurses Association website for developments on the laws (don't know website offhand).

All the best,



74 Posts

Out of curiosity, why would a NP be required to have a PhD, while a PA wouldn't?


274 Posts

good point magn1jes- and a PA has no eperience yet both are mid level providers- I do think being a RN can benefit in terms of reallife epeience and contacts with MDs in the area,ect- I have interviewed on a floor that I will be happy to work on but if I am not hired, my efforts will go into NP school for Fall. Two RNs from the same floor just finished up FNP. I feel that I will land where I am supposed to be.


14,633 Posts

good point magn1jes- and a PA has no eperience yet both are mid level providers-

Keep in mind there are now a kazillion "direct-entry" MSN programs cranking out NPs who have no nursing experience ... One can no longer make the assumption/argument that all advanced practice nurses have significant prior experience as nurses to build on.

As for the DNP-requirement-for-advanced-practice, it is a proposal by some of the academic organizations in nursing, and that's all so far. Although DNP programs are springing up like mushrooms after a spring rain (many converted from previous MSN programs), a whole lot of other professional groups, regulatory agencies, accrediting agencies, etc., would have to climb on the bandwagon before this becomes mandatory.


400 Posts

Specializes in ER.

I don't think experience as an RN should be required for someone to attend an NP program. If the program is set up correctly one should learn what they need to practice in the program. Physicians do not need medical experience to apply to an MD program! Yet they practice medicine upon graduation.

I also think if NPs start requiring a doctorate there will be a big increase in PAs and an equal decrease in NPs.

While I agree that it most probably isn't necessary for one to have RN experience before going to NP school, I will say that it is very helpful to at least have some RN experience under your belt before becoming an NP.

Also, I think it depends on what type of NP you are interested in becoming. If you are interested in primary care, then maybe having RN experience wouldn't really matter, but if you are interested in joining a specialty practice, then, having some RN experience may be of some benefit to you in the long run.

For example, I worked as an RN taking care of mostly cardiac patients while I was working on my adult NP/CNS with a cardiac specialization. My training and experience as an RN did benefit me when I was doing my clinicals as an NP. Also, in working as an NP in a cardiology practice, I really don't think I could have gotten this job without working on a cardiac unit as an RN and also, I don't think I really could do this job without my experience as an RN with cardiac patients. There is so much to know in specialty practice and it's important to at least have the basics down and be familiar with the terminology wherever you decide to work.

Trauma Columnist

traumaRUs, MSN, APRN

88 Articles; 21,247 Posts

Specializes in Nephrology, Cardiology, ER, ICU.

Also, with the current job market being poor in some areas, your RN experience is often the deciding factor as to who gets the job.

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