Not so long ago, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree was the designated degree required for advanced nursing practice. But in 2006 member institutions of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted to change the level of preparation required for advanced nursing practice from the masters-level to the doctorate-level. All advance nursing practice programs are scheduled to be transitioned to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs by the year 2015.
Does this mean that if you are an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) holding an MSN degree then your credentials are now obsolete? No. Does it mean that an MSN professional should return to college and earn their DNP degree? The answer to that question is one of personal choice.
All licensed practicing APRN Nurse Practitioners holding an MSN in 2014 will be grandfathered and can continue to practice as Nurse Practitioners into 2015 and beyond without a DNP degree. However, even though their professional careers may not be directly affected by the new DNP requirement for advanced nursing practice careers, as more and more DNP graduates enter the marketplace, APRNs holding only MSN degrees may want to upgrade via an MSN-to-DNP program to compete in the marketplace.
Each college or university is responsible for defining the curriculum for their DNP program. The MSN to DNP programs developed by each school will be slightly different, but the effort required to complete them will be substantial.
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