A Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice, or DNAP, is the highest practice degree in nurse anesthesia. It is one of two types of degrees available for nurses pursuing careers as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). The other is a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
In this article, we will explore:
- DNAP vs. DNP
- Where a DNAP works
- How to become a DNAP
- DNAP education requirements
- DNAP certification options
- Job and salary outlook for DNAPs
DNAP vs. DNP: What’s the difference?
Both the DNAP and DNP degree programs prepare nurses to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA). Essentially, the DNAP and DNP degrees are similar and lead to a CRNA. Some DNAP jobs include the utilization of research findings for evidence-based clinical practice, education, and administration. The type of education and certification is slightly different. They are both practice degrees, unlike research degrees such as the DNS/DSN or Ph.D.
Where a DNAP works
Nursing professionals who hold a DNAP can work in a variety of settings that benefit from their level of expertise and skill in anesthesia. Some of the most common choices for DNAPs include:
- Colleges and universities
- Critical access hospitals
- Hospital administration
- Mobile surgery centers
- Research facilities
How to become a DNAP
Before nurses can earn a DNAP, they must become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists. To become a CRNA, nursing students must earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). The most common steps for obtaining an MSN include:
- Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from an accredited nursing program.
- Becoming a licensed Registered Nurse (RN) by passing the NCLEX-RN exam.
- Pursuing nursing certifications while working as an RN in an acute care setting.
- Gaining admission into an accredited Nurse Anesthesia Program.
Some nurses choose to work as acute-care RNs while completing an MSN degree program. There are many options for earning an MSN. The most popular are bridge programs (RN to MSN, BSN to MSN) that help accelerate the process of earning an advanced degree. This program can help nurses complete an MSN program in about 2 years. Accelerated programs build on previous education and learning experiences to fast-track nursing students through the process.
Once nurses have earned their Master of Science in Nursing degrees, they can begin the next step in their journeys to becoming a DNAP.
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DNAP education requirements
After completing an MSN degree, nurses must continue with their education to complete a DNAP program through an accredited college or university. Most doctoral nursing degrees take between 12 and 36 months to complete depending on whether nurses attend part-time or full-time. These programs include 30 to 40 credits and 1,000 clinical hours. Coursework includes in-depth study of some of the following topics:
- Anesthesia biology
- Anesthesia pathophysiology
- Anesthesia pharmacology
- Geriatric anesthesia
- Obstetric anesthesia
Nursing students can expect to complete DNAP programs with a deeper understanding of anesthesia and more advanced skills in nursing anesthetics that open the doors to more lucrative nursing opportunities.
DNAP certification options
Specialty certifications that align with a DNAP can be obtained through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). To earn certification, nurses must pass an exam that contains between 100 and 170 comprehensive questions. Once certification is awarded, it must be renewed every four years. DNAPs who earn NBCRNA certification demonstrate their expertise in anesthesia, education, surgery, training, and testing. Nurses must complete continuing education credits to maintain their certifications.
Job and salary outlook for DNAPs
Nurse anesthetists earn a median annual wage of $202,470, according to official figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Demand for DNAPs is projected to grow by 45% between now and 2030.
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