If you are interested in advancing your nursing career, becoming a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) are two possible choices for you. While these two roles do not require you to put down the stethoscope or medical bag, they require different approaches to your education. That is why it is important to research them thoroughly to decide which one is right for you.
The following guide explains what a DNP is, as well as what it means to pursue a FNP. You will learn how to become one, as well as how each one can help you to reach your professional goals. Finally, you will discover how to prepare for new roles and continuing education so you can advance your nursing career.
What Is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)?
According to NurseJournal, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is an advanced degree designed for licensed registered nurses (RNs). Many professionals earn them to pursue a career as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). It can also be used as a path to other forms of advanced certification and licensure for nurses. The average DNP program length is between three and six years and covers core concepts like advanced nursing practice, clinical prevention and patient care technology. Students will also master subjects like interprofessional collaboration, quality improvement and organizational leadership.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that the median pay for APRNs is $117,670 per year. Graduates of a DNP program are commonly employed at large practices and healthcare facilities, where they can make a big impact. It is also possible to find a job as an expert clinician or professor at an institution that emphasizes education and clinical practice.
What Is a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)?
Licensed and qualified RNs also have the opportunity to pursue a FNP. To become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), you must earn a master’s degree. With specialized clinical training and education in family practice, you can work to obtain a certification from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Once you finish your master’s degree and pass your exam, you will be able to advertise yourself to employers and healthcare practices as a certified FNP.
Family nurse practitioners often work with a supervising physician, but still get the freedom to see their patients. Professionals who build a loyal following and a strong clientele may decide to open an independent practice for themselves. While the certification path is different, FNPs and DNPs are most alike because they both hold leadership roles and earn the same type of pay.
What Are the Benefits of Becoming a DNP?
Since the Doctor of Nursing Practice is a doctorate, nurses will be able to apply for opportunities that are not available to those who hold a master’s degree. They will also get a chance to develop advanced clinical skills and gain the leadership skills needed to fill high-level leadership roles in hospitals and healthcare organizations. Today’s DNP programs commonly include classes in critical areas like healthcare economics, epidemiology and nursing informatics, which are essential skill sets needed for today’s nursing leaders and their medical facilities. Since a DNP does not require a teaching component to graduate, students can pursue their DNP online while still working full-time with patients.
A DNP also helps to prepare nurses for the future. Nursing education experts say that certified nurse-midwives (CNMs), nurse practitioners (NPs) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) will eventually require a DNP for credentialing. While a master’s degree is currently accepted, earning the DNP will ensure that new nurses can do what they love for decades to come. Nurses can also use their DNP to become certified as a FNP.
What Are the Advantages of Becoming a FNP?
There are many reasons why RNs become Family Nurse Practitioners, including enhanced responsibility in the workplace and more flexibility to see their favorite type of patients. Many FNPs can create their work schedules or choose a schedule that fits their family. Getting a master’s degree in an in-demand field also helps nurses to increase their overall job prospects and their pay.
While FNPs earn over $100,000 per year, the average registered nurse salary includes a median annual wage of $75,330. Gaining valuable skills and education as a part of a master’s program helps to quickly increase your wages. You will also get to pursue unique specializations while you work as an RN. Nurses who previously worked in a hospital or a large healthcare facility will enjoy their new environment. Many FNPs can work in a family practice, a pediatric office or in an outpatient clinic that focuses on preventative care.
How to Prepare for Your New Role
Whether you are interested in earning a doctorate in the nursing field, becoming a family nurse practitioner or gaining the skills and education that are necessary to be competitive in areas such as travel nursing, legal nurse consulting or nursing informatics, earning a FNP or DNP is an excellent decision. While they only take a maximum of a few years to complete, they can help to raise your earning potential, make you stand out in the nursing field and do what you love while getting to work as a leader in your specialization of choice.
To be successful in your role as a FNP or DNP, take the time to find a position that matches your skillset and your personality. Since you will be both an experienced and advanced applicant, it is worth it to apply for the jobs that will make you excited about caring for your community and your patients.
Polished and sophisticated clothing and nursing shoes will help you to look and feel the part. Soft and stylish scrub tops and bottoms, well-fitting scrub jackets and leather non-skid shoes or clogs are all excellent choices in nursing accessories and garments. A lab coat will establish you as a leader in the facility, while an engraved stethoscope with your name or practice information makes a great gift for a job well done. There is no right way to be a nurse or develop your nursing career, so be sure to choose the path that feels right for you. Soon, you will be on your way to a leadership role you genuinely love.