Nursing Degrees & Schools / FNP vs. DNP
There’s an ever-increasing demand for advanced practice registered nurses (APRN). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the profession will grow by 45% between 2019 and 2029. As a result, more nurses are seeking to expand their roles.
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In this blog post, we will explore the following:
- What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
- What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
- What are the similarities between FNP vs. DNP?
- What are the differences between FNP vs. DNP?
- How do you become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
- How do you become a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
What is a Family Nurse Practitioner?
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, an FNP is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who provides family-focused healthcare services to patients ranging from children to seniors.
- Maintain patient records
- Perform physical examinations
- Order diagnostic tests
- Prescribe medications
- Develop treatment plans
- Treat acute and chronic illnesses
Though the FNP has a broad scope of practice, they can also specialize in particular fields such as diabetes or obesity management.
Many FNPs work in community clinics or private practices.
FNPs have a unique opportunity to build long-term relationships with the patients and families they see. They learn intimate details about their patients and get to see their growth over time.
What is a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
A DNP degree is a terminal degree within nursing. There is no degree above it. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the Doctor of Nursing Practice is created for nurses who want something other than a research-focused doctoral program.
The DNP prepares nurses to practice in the field. Often, nurses with DNP degrees end up working in administrative or other leadership positions within healthcare. Other nurses work in different capacities as APRNs.
What are the similarities between FNP vs. DNP?
The FNP and DNP share some overlap. One of the primary similarities is they both require advanced education. For an FNP degree, you need to have a masters-level degree at least, while the DNP is a doctoral-level degree.
Additionally, both roles come with a certain level of autonomy. The FNP position, in many cases, allows nurses to work without supervision. The DNP degree provides ample opportunities for nurses to work in supervisory roles as well.
What are the differences between FNP vs. DNP?
Some of the differences between the FNP and DNP lie in education and training. For example, an FNP requires at minimum a masters-level degree while the DNP is a doctoral degree.
The FNP position focuses specifically on patient care and families in particular. The DNP, on the other hand, can prepare nurses for many different types of roles. Often, nurses who want to work in the management and business side of nursing will obtain a DNP degree.
How do you become a Family Nurse Practitioner?
Becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner is a lengthy process. Below we have listed the steps to becoming an FNP.
- Become a registered nurse: This is the first step toward becoming an FNP. You can earn either an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
- Gain experience: Potential family nurse practitioners need to gain skills within the field. Advanced practice nurses need to have a strong understanding of nursing for when they become leaders in their specialty.
- Earn your MSN or DNP: Once you build up your skillset as a registered nurse, it’s time to earn a Master of Science in Nursing or Doctor of Nursing Practice. On average, MSN programs take about two years. There are bridge programs to help students obtain a DNP degree if they only have a bachelor’s.
- Pass the certification exam: After graduating, you must obtain certification. There are two different types of certification you can receive as an FNP. These are offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
- Apply to become a state certified FNP: Next, you need to apply for state certification. You can go to your state’s nursing licensure page to determine requirements.
- Renew your certification: After you earn your Family Nurse Practitioner certification, you must renew every five years. Your state may also require continuing education to renew as well.
How do you become a Doctor of Nursing Practice?
There are several ways to earn a DNP. Most people take the MSN to DNP route. However, there are bridge programs to help you earn your doctorate in an expedited manner.
Here are some of the typical routes to obtain a DNP:
MSN to DNP
As stated, this is the most common method. Since the nurse already has an MSN and is likely an advanced practice nurse already, the MSN to DNP can be a great option. Also, they may not have the time to dedicate to full-time studies.
- 1-2 years full time
- 3-4 years part-time
- Tailored toward specialized coursework
- Clinical hours the student earned from MSN can be applied toward the clinical hours requirement
BSN to DNP (Bridge)
The BSN to DNP program combines the curriculum of MSN and DNP.
- 3-4 years full time
- 4-6 years part-time
- Includes MSN and DNP curriculum to avoid repeating
- Often consists of an early exit option before the DNP portion
This degree program caters to students who have a bachelor’s degree in an area outside of nursing.
- 4-6 years full time
- Part-time usually not available
- Students have to become registered nurses before taking on graduate work
RN to DNP (Bridge)
The RN to DNP degree program is the least common. It does allow someone without a BSN to pursue a DNP.
- 4-6 years full time
- 6+ years part-time
- Often programs require students to have undergraduate prerequisites done before taking graduate courses
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