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Straight NP degree or BSN-DNP?


Specializes in Emergency, critical care, cardiovascular. Has 5 years experience.

I am a senior in my BSN program, and think about my future a lot. My mind is set on adult-geriatric acute care nurse practitioner. I was just curious as to what route I should go: straight in ACNP school, or do the BSN-DNP (with choice of NP specialty) that my school offers. I would rather just get my NP and be done with it, but I have heard that NP's were supposed to be required to have their DNP starting this year; which apparently hasn't happened because there are tons of NPs that I know that are not DNPs or even enrolled. Anyways, the BSN-DNP is around 4 years long, and you get your NP degree and the DNP (2 birds with one stone kind of deal). I just don't know if I can handle another 4 straight years. I would rather become an NP work for a while, then go back.

Thanks for you thoughts!

ThePrincessBride, BSN

Specializes in Med-Surg, NICU. Has 6 years experience.

I would worry about getting bedside experience before thinking about MSN vs NP. Most reputable NP schools are going to at least want a couple of years of hands-on experience.

That being said, the DNP is only a recommendation, not a requirement. Nursing has debated point of entry level for decades and it still hasn't established any standards.


Has 10 years experience.

I had the same ambition but after I started working, I think it's foolish to go straight through.


Specializes in Emergency, critical care, cardiovascular. Has 5 years experience.

I'm definitely not going to go straight into it. I'm just the kind of person who worries and stresses about the future until it happens lol

I'm definitely not going to go straight into it. I'm just the kind of person who worries and stresses about the future until it happens lol

Then don't do that. Worry about what you have going on today. If you worry and cry over the future and it comes and you find out its not that bad, you wasted all that worrying for nothing.

Eat what you have on your plate first.

Get at least a couple years of experience as a bedside nurse, then decide what you want to do. Your first year as a nurse is such a huge learning curve and it would be almost ridiculous (actually quite ridiculous) for you to dive right back in. Getting your MSN is hard enough, let alone learning to actually be a nurse when you get out of school. Because, in reality, nursing school and real world nursing are two different things.

It's okay to think about the future. But don't worry about it.

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

The job prospects for adult/gerontology specialists look terrific for the next couple of decades. So it seems like you are on a great path if that is something that interests you. Now you just have to take it one step at a time to travel that path without making a big mistake.

1. Upon graduation, get a job as a staff nurse on a unit that is relevant to your adult/gerontology interests. Focus on making that transition from student to competent professional.

2. While you do #1 above for a couple of years, you can pay attention to the evolving trends in nursing. Your career is not going to be in the past, it will be in the future. So don't make your decision on what worked for people 10 years ago, base your decisions on what seems to be the direction the profession of nursing will be taking over the next few decades. Pay attention as those trends develop. Read about them in professional journals. Go to some conferences, etc.

3. Choose a school for the next phase of your education. I suspect that the BSN-DNP will be the best route for you. It's the most efficient path that will get you the best education for a variety of roles in the future. The DNP is the "coming" thing and not only will it enable you to be the NP you want to be now, it will enable you to get other jobs as well -- such as faculty jobs or staff education jobs or some management jobs.

4. Right now, you are emotionally at a point where you don't want to go to school for another 4 years. But after you work for a couple of years, you will be better able to handle that. Also, with some staff nurse experience under your belt, you will probably be able to do the first year or two of grad school on a part-time basis while you continue to work. That will help you financially and the work experience will enhance your ability to get the most out of your classes.

5. Don't do the MSN now and then take a break and go back for a DNP later. Take a break now and work -- to firm up your basic nursing skills and save some money. Then go back and make the big push straight for the DNP.