The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) has only be around for about 15 years, although it was envisioned over 30 years ago. In 1993 when I finished my masters and both adult and gerontological nurse practitioner programs (they were separate then), I was asked by the faculty to continue into the PhD in nursing program. Although I was very humbled and appreciative, I had
heard there was a practice doctor on the horizon. I did not realize that I would have to wait 17 years to
achieve my goal. In hind sight, my years practicing as an adult and gerontological nurse practitioner and teaching undergraduate and graduate students was invaluable at preparing me for the rigor of the program and the conceptulization of my final DNP scholarly project. So by now you must realize that I value experience with education.
Being a Diploma RN, RN to BSN, and completing 2 NP specialities in my master's program was not an easy path. It was my path, and I would not change it if I could. And post-doctoral, I completed my PMHNP-BC, a third speciality area in advance practice. I firmly believe in education and experience.
What I have wrestled with is the space between the experience and the education. I know everyone learns differently. As a nurse educator, I could sense the students who would continue to push their careers through rapid succession of education. I have also coached non-nursing second degree seeking individuals who avoided some of the "old" nurse duties, who went rapidly from basic to advance nursing in just a few years. Experience was limited in both cases compared tp my route.
I encourage new graduates to spend several years at the bedside before considering advance degrees. Ok, I will confess I am truly biased to the ED nurse. I spent 10 years in the ED before going into advance practice. My dose of trauma and chronic disease was invaluable. I was curious about the "big" picture of my patients, and not just the contributions that I made to their care. I was always on the heels of the physicians as they rounded, asked lots of questions starting with "why" and post-ED, I wanted to know what happened to the patient after they left our care.
As you think about where you are going, think about where you are and where you have been. Do you love nursing and caring for patients enough to want to spend time, money and considerable sacrifices to be impactful to life changing and life saving outcomes? If the answer is yes, lets talk.
This DNP graduate would tell you it is worth it!