Nurses are healthcare professionals who were essential workers in our communities even before the coronavirus pandemic hit, and are currently in high demand. Per the BLS—Bureau of Labor Statistics—there is a projection that jobs for registered nurses (RNs) will grow by 12% before the decade is over.
The demand is even higher for advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). For APRNs such as nurse practitioners and others, the projected job growth is currently 26%, and these in-demand professionals also enjoy higher salaries. On average, an RN may earn less than $72,000 a year, while an APRN makes almost $114,000 on average.
Advanced practice roles are typically for nurses with advanced degrees in their field, such as an MSN degree. Enrolling in an MSN program and pursuing this degree can make various specialized career options accessible for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and more, as holders of an MSN typically have more independence and greater responsibilities than RNs.
Various Nursing Degrees
Through the coursework of a master of science in nursing program, nursing students enhance their clinical skills and learn methods of nursing research, advanced health assessment, advanced pharmacology, and more.
There are four types of master’s degrees in nursing that can enable nursing professionals to advance their careers: the registered nurse to the master of science (RN to MSN), the associate degree to master of science (ADN to MSN), the associate of science to the master of science (ASN to MSN), and the bachelor of science to the master of science (BSN to MSN).
Nursing professionals who wish to improve patient outcomes while fulfilling an administrative role in a healthcare facility should consider going even further in their studies and obtaining the terminal degree in the nursing field: a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP).
With a DNP, nursing professionals receive greater salary potential and can attain careers at the management level to impact positive change on a larger scale. At this level, degree-holders may even end up using their skills, knowledge, and experience to educate aspiring nurses and students of the next generation.
Pursuing a DNP
Statistics show clearly how interest and enrollment in DNP programs continue to grow. The number of nursing students enrolled in such programs increased from over 29,000 to more than 32,000 from 2017 to 2018. These years also saw the number of DNP graduates go from an estimated six thousand to over seven thousand. DNP programs are now available at several colleges and universities in each US state and the District of Columbia.
When deciding to enroll in an MSN to DNP program, choose a university with an in-person or online program suited to your needs, and intended plans of study. The ideal academic institution to earn a DNP from is one that provides an educational experience that focuses on applicable research, strategic thinking, and emerging technologies. A university that gives you access to residency opportunities and enables you to connect with experienced nursing professionals and leaders and build a network is an excellent choice, as applicable skills and mentors can help you succeed in an online MSN to DNP program and afterward when you’re working in the field.
Your status as a part-time student or full-time student depends on the number of credit hours you sign up for. For example, distance learners in an online post-master’s DNP program can enjoy an accelerated, professional-friendly learning experience in two years or less. Nursing students can finish the courses relevant to this degree program in six terms, taking less than two years to complete.
The best MSN to DNP program is a flexible one offered by a university that allows working nurses to fit their coursework into their personal and professional schedules. Pursuing an advanced degree is a significant decision that requires focus, determination and dedication for a maximum of two years.