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Are you done with your bachelor’s in Nursing and confused about where to go now? Understanding the degrees of Nursing can be a little tricky and the primary reason, you could quickly end up confusing yourself between MSN and DNP is because they may appear the same but are entirely different degree programs. If you are choosing to pursue Nursing, you need to get the idea of all the degrees straight.
To begin with, MSN is for the Master of Science for Nursing, and it is a graduate degree that proceeds after BSN or other undergraduate level Nursing degrees. Those studying MSN either go for a specialty in clinical studies or take a subjective approach to Nursing and opt for an administrative or educational path. On the other hand, the DNP program proceeds after the completion of MSN. The DNP is short for Doctor of Nursing Practice and is the highest degree in the Nursing field. Also, it is essential to note that it is different from a Ph.D. in Nursing, which is more of a research-based degree. The students aiming to achieve the highest level of Nursing degree opt DNP. It allows them to practice advanced clinical and leadership skills along with the understanding of the stats and philosophy of the field of Nursing.
To take the MSN vs. DNP comparison in perspective, hereunder are some significant differences between the two. So, read along so you can choose the right career path for yourself:
- Time Needed to Complete MSN and DNP
If you have the license of a Registered Nurse along with ADN, which is a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or BSN, which is a nursing degree, you are eligible to apply for MSN. If you have ADN, it will take you from 3 to 5 years to complete your MSN degree. However, if you have BSN, it will only take you two years. On the other hand, DNP is the final degree for which you need to have one of these degrees: MSN or BSN or ADN. If you have MSN, you will take only two years to complete your DNP but 3 to 4 or 5 to 6 years if you have BSN or ADN respectively.
- Coursework to look forward to
There are many specialties out of which you can opt for one when pursuing MSN. The typical coursework which you will have to study no matter which specialty you choose includes policies and advocacy of healthcare, scientific clinical practice, healthcare quality, physiology, pathophysiology, clinical pharmacology, and international population stats and health. On the contrary, DNP focuses on the leadership and clinical practice skills of nurses to help them serve confidently in their field, which is sensitive. DNP also focuses on analytical, clinical studies, organizational synergy for the sake of the health of patients, and advance the use of clinical technology.
- What licenses and certificates these degrees provide you?
MSN is a degree essential for the license of Nurse Practitioner. However, you need to have certification from the nation and state. Some familiar names include the American Nurses Credentialing Center (AANC), National Certification Corporation (NCC), American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), etc. Apart from MSN, you also need to have a license for Registered Nurse to apply for the permit of Nurse Practitioner along with the approved coursework and assigned clinical hours.
On the other hand, DNP allows you to have a certification from the American Board of Comprehensive Care. This certification lasts for five years and to renew it, and you will need to retake the exam with the proof of assigned clinic hours and CE units. Apart from this certification, there are many government-based credentials that you achieve through DNP.
- Wondering about the environment, you will be working in with these degrees?
The MSN degree holders can choose to work in a variety of environments. Some of those are hospitals, community clinics, outpatient care clinics, physician’s offices, the combined offices of health practitioners. However, if we look at the work environment of DNP degree holders, they can work in universities with students, public health offices, in places of health care administrations, hospitals, organizations that advocate health care policies, free clinics, and specialty clinics. Both degrees offer a diverse choice for Nurse Practitioners to opt for the environment they would like to choose.
- The BIG Salary Question
Both MSN and DNP degree holders are paid well in the USA. The average salary of an MSN degree holder is 107,480 USD yearly. However, not every MSN degree holder earns the same. It highly depends on an individual’s overall GPA, coursework, completion, and quality of clinical hours, and the strength of certifications. Thus, the salary of an MSN degree holder lies from around 74,840 USD to 145,630 USD annually.
On the other hand, though a DNP degree holder can opt over an MSN degree holder, the pay scale is usually similar. If an individual with MSN had a lot of experience in the clinical practice, there is an excellent chance his wage would be higher than a fresh DNP degree holder. However, if they both have a similar amount of experience and certifications, there would be a slight difference in salary. For example, if an MSN degree holder is earning 43 USD an hour, a DNP degree holder would be making 47 USD an hour then.
Since the pay scale does not differ significantly, it can be a confusing decision to opt for DNP at all. If you are only concerned with earning, MSN will do excellent, but if you are passionate about your field and want to achieve the opportunities only possible with a DNP degree, you should go for it. A researched fact sheet might help you clear the picture of what DNP is and why you should pursue it. Being a great NP requires a lot of focus and hard work, and sometimes all you might be wishing for is a little bit of luck to get you through your studies. So, good luck!