Guidelines for Advancing Your Nursing Career

Are you currently a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) qualified nurse with big ambitions to continue climbing the ladder of success in your career? If so, you might be wondering how you can fast-track your way to a more impressive position and a more attractive paycheck. Here are some helpful guidelines to assist you in advancing your nursing career starting immediately.

Why take your career to the next level?

Many nursing practitioners are perfectly satisfied spending years and years happily caring for their patients. However, many others aspire to climb the ranks and become the best and most qualified nurse that they can possibly be. If you are someone who was born a natural leader and you truly want to make a difference in terms of looking after others and mentoring other ambitious nurses to do the same, then there is no doubt that you should be building on your career and education.

There are numerous other benefits associated with taking your career to the next level, along with opening a variety of exciting doors for career growth. For example, over time, you will also enjoy the advantage of earning a higher salary, as well as more respect from your superiors and colleagues.

Another benefit is the fact that advancing your career will present you with several new challenges, which can help to make your work life even more fulfilling and rewarding.

What should your next step be?

BSN qualified nurses can advance their careers by studying further. Generally, they will have a choice between applying to study towards an MSN-FNP degree or a DNP-FNP degree. The MSN-FNP degree is shorter and less complex than the DNP-FNP degree. However, it is one step down too. The DNP-FNP degree is the highest level of education that a nursing practitioner can obtain in the United States.

What is a DNP-FNP degree?

Most DNP-FNP courses will focus on educating nursing practitioners in terms of providing a greater level of care to their patients through comprehensive and methodical health assessments. These in-depth courses also often teach various aspects of healthcare ethics, the different models of care delivery and when to apply them, and the science behind public health.

How to choose a reputable university

Once you have made the decision to pursue your DNP-FNP degree, you will have another important decision to make. You will need to decide whether you wish to study at a traditional on-campus university or whether you would prefer to complete the theory portion of your course online via an online university. Overall, it is a matter of preference; however, there is no denying that opting to study remotely promises a host of enticing advantages like enhanced flexibility, reduced cost, and easily accessible support.

If you do decide to complete a DNP-FNP degree online, it is vital that you realize that not all online universities and online courses are created equal. It can help to chat with other highly qualified nurses with whom you work regarding their recommendations and advice for making the right choice.

Generally, there are a few essential questions to ask before going ahead and sending in an application:

  • Is the program CCNE accredited? The CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) is responsible for ensuring the integrity and quality of all nursing programs in the United States. These programs include baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs.
  • Is the program’s pass rate decent? Obviously, a higher pass rate in previous years provides you with a good idea of how likely you are to complete your DNP-FNP degree with minimal challenges along the way. Further to this, a high pass rate also provides you with important insight into the quality and level of learner support offered by the university in question.
  • What is the cost of the program? As mentioned above, not all DNP-FNP courses are created equal, so you probably want to steer clear of those that seem to be exceptionally cheap. Having said that, you also do not want to have to spend more than is necessary. The great news is that studying online usually works out to be a lot more cost-effective than studying at a traditional university. A good price works out to around $1,050 per credit hour. However, ensure that you are prepared to pay extra for clinicals and labs.
  • Does the university offer clinical placement services? If not, you will have to organize your clinical placement yourself, and this can prove to be exceptionally time-consuming and frustrating. A university that offers a clinical placement service will often pair you with a placement coordinator who will guide you through the process, including the various clinical clearance requirements (such as drug screenings, background checks, etc.). All of the important admin and preparations will be handled on your behalf, so you can focus more time and effort on working through your assignments and textbooks leading up to clinicals.
  • How long does the DNP-FNP program take to complete? DNP-FNP programs can take up to five years to complete. However, some online universities make it possible to complete your course in just over three years. Be sure to inquire about these timelines specifically if you would like to obtain your degree faster.

What to expect from enrolment requirements

Enrolment requirements will differ vastly from institution to institution. Conduct plenty of research into these requirements with plenty of time to spare in order to ensure that you do not miss the cut-off date for applications. Usually, the requirements to pursue a DNP-FNP degree look something like this:

  • You must be a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) qualified nurse with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • You must be in possession of an unencumbered RN license.
  • You must have at least two years of nursing experience following the completion of your BSN degree.
  • You will need a few letters of recommendation from esteemed members of the healthcare community.
  • You will need to provide a professional essay and/or a writing sample.
  • You will need to submit a detailed resume.
  • You should include a professional video introduction detailing why you want to further your career and why you want to study this specific degree.

What does the curriculum for a DNP-FNP degree look like?

Curriculums for DNP-FNP programs may differ somewhat. However, most tend to focus on equipping nursing practitioners with advanced leadership skills that they can combine with advanced nursing practice. Other areas of focus include healthcare planning, how to make important decisions under pressure, healthcare and team organization and management, economic markets and management, healthcare policies, how to use data management systems, how to monitor nursing performance, and more.

The Marymount DNP program is particularly popular among aspirational nursing practitioners and boasts an especially enticing curriculum that comprises of the following:

  • Advanced health assessment: This aspect of the curriculum seeks to equip NPs with a foundation for advanced nursing practice in a primary care setting. NPs will learn all about how to polish their interview skills to boost their employability, as well as how to approach physical examinations and diagnostics in a comprehensive, methodical manner. Furthermore, nursing practitioners will discover how to create evidence-informed management plans and how to ensure optimal organization in the form of both electronic and written documentation. It is essential for nurses to learn advanced approaches to all forms of patient care, including psychological and sociocultural, and across all life stages.
  • Innovative models of care delivery: By studying the innovative models of care delivery, nurses will be equipped to show leadership from a clinical, systems, and organizational standpoint. Nurses must figure out how to ensure consistent quality and performance management and how to apply business process improvement (BPI) strategies in terms of the creation of new care models based on patient diagnostics. Finally, there is also a strong emphasis on demonstrating to nurses how to go about effectively balancing quality of care with optimized productivity.
  • Epidemiology: Epidemiology revolves around the study of the causes behind different health outcomes and health problems within different communities. This part of the DNP-FNP program curriculum teaches students how to evaluate community health and how to develop strategies to keep disease and illness at bay based on the health problems identified.
  • Leadership, quality, and ethics in healthcare: Leadership is at the core of every practicing FNP with a DNP under their belt. Hence the reason why most education institutions focus on teaching evidence-based leadership skills in an effort to enhance the quality of patient care that a nurse is able to provide. Ethical values in the healthcare environment is another vital topic for NPs to investigate, understand, and uphold.

What can I do with a DNP-FNP degree?

There are various different types of DNP degrees to choose from. The DNP-FNP degree focuses on family nursing practice, which means that almost all who study a DNP-FNP return to nursing practice thereafter. The difference is that you will step into leadership roles and often practice without any need for physician supervision, depending on the state in which you live and work. In Washington and Seattle, specifically, registered nurse practitioners are legally able to practice independently. This includes working closely with families and patients when it comes to diagnosis and treatment, as well as writing prescriptions for medications.

Ultimately, the various healthcare demands in the United States are shifting dramatically, resulting in a call for highly qualified healthcare personnel, especially in terms of nursing practitioners. While an MSN-FNP degree will qualify you to work at most healthcare institutions, there is no doubt that a DNP-FNP degree will provide you with a strong advantage in the job market and a higher earning potential.

Are you ready to study a DNP-FNP?

The beauty of this particular program is that you can decide to pursue it at any time throughout the duration of your career. Some ambitious nurses opt to study towards this higher level of education as soon as they possibly can in an effort to speed up their career progression right from the start. Others opt to focus on honing their existing skills and racking up some important work experience before taking the plunge a few years down the line.

Remember that even if you decide to study towards your DNP-FNP quickly, you will need to have at least two years’ worth of experience following your BSN degree before you are eligible to apply.

There are a few questions to ask yourself when considering applying to study a DNP-FNP course:

  • Are you financially stable? There will obviously be the option to apply for a student loan to cover the costs associated with your course. However, it is important to note that almost all DNP-FNP programs are rather intensive, which means that you probably won’t be able to work for the majority of the time that you are studying. Therefore, you need to determine whether your savings are substantial enough to sustain you throughout this period.
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? You need to establish whether the DNP-FNP career path is the right one based on your career goals. Ultimately, those who study towards a DNP should aspire to fill strong, demanding leadership roles within the healthcare field. If you do not see yourself taking on the role of a leader or managing a team of other nurses, this particular program might not be the perfect fit. In that instance, it may be worthwhile looking into an MSN-FNP program instead.
  • Are you currently in the right mindset? A DNP-FNP course is demanding of your time and your emotions. Hence, it is a good idea to begin the course when you are in the right frame of mind and are not coming out of, or in the midst of, a difficult or stressful period in your life. It also helps to establish a set of go-to resources for effective stress relief before embarking upon this journey. Doing so will help to ensure that you can maintain a sense of balance in your life in the next three-five years.

Wishing you the best of luck going forward!

If you have any questions, please ask below!