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Opinions... Family DNP vs CRNA

What should I do?

  1. 1. What should I do?

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I will be starting my last year of nursing school in the fall. I am trying to figure out what the smartest route would be after I finish my degree. I am interested in becoming a CRNA, where I would have to get two years of ICU experience before applying to the 3 year program. In this program, I could not work. But, I am also interested in becoming an NP and possibly specializing in dermatology. In this route, my school offers a family/adult DNP program I could begin right after I am done with my BSN and work either part or full time (3 or 4 year program) while completing the program. What would you do if you were in my shoes? Considering financial responsibilities, pay, demand for job, difficulty of programs, etc. Thanks!

Dermatology and Anesthesia are pretty divergent areas of practice. I think you need to do some more in depth consideration of what you want to do with your career. I wouldn't try to rush your decision based on what degree you could begin right away vs. gaining experience because you could easily go down a path that you will ultimately be unsatisfied with. There certainly are a lot of factors that could influence your decision like potential earnings, time to degree, job markets, etc.. however I think the overriding factor is what you want to do for a living. It might be helpful to finish your BSN and gain some real world experience before trying to make a final decision. Reality can be starkly different from what we idealize a certain role or profession to be. Also, see if you can shadow some NPs or CRNAs to see what they do day to day and get some first hand perspective.

Graduate and get a job in the ICU. Working as a RN showed me that I didn't want to work as a CRNA. Way too specific and no laterality. You're stuck doing anesthesia and that's it. An NP can do so much.

NurseLatteDNP, MSN, DNP, RN

Specializes in Education, Administration, Magnet.

Follow your passion. Regardless if you choose DNP or CRNA, you will spend many years in school and clinicals to reach that goal. Make it something you enjoy doing.


Specializes in Adult Internal Medicine.

You are a long way from figuring out which path is best for you: it's a big investment, don't put the cart before the horse.


Specializes in ICU.

Derm vs Anesthesia are 2 VERY different fields. Dermatology will likely be a very relaxed environment, 5 days a week 9-5, office-based, and no emergent situations. I'm not a derm NP so I can't really give specifics on it. I'm in CRNA school now, so with that...

Anesthesia can also be relaxed at times, but "stuff" can also hit the fan real quick. Your daily skillset will require that you to effectively pre-op your patients, mask-ventilate a patient, intubate (and perform invasive airways if emergent), become an expert at IV placement, arterial line placement, central line placement, peripheral nerve blocks, and neuraxial (spinals, epidurals). You will need to know the ins and outs of anesthetic pharmacology, because in the end, you are responsible for the patient when they start to crash.

I would recommend shadowing an NP and a CRNA if you can...it can be hard to find a CRNA to shadow, though. If you do your senior internship in the ICU--see if you like it. If you hate it, CRNA may not be the route to go. Don't worry too much about the whole "not being able to work" thing about CRNA school. If you're prepared, you can save $ in the 2+ years you work in the ICU, and you will receive sufficient loans to cover tuition and living expenses. You'll be able to pay them back easily after getting a job.

You are a long way from figuring out which path is best for you: it's a big investment, don't put the cart before the horse.

Agreed. Finish your RN program first. It's great having goals, but I think it's crucial having actual exposure in the field, particularly because exposure amd experience may make you realize you want to modify those goals.


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