The leader at the heart of today’s healthcare organization might not be a medical doctor; he or she might be a doctor of nursing practice, or DNP. DNPs are advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), and like other APRNs, DNPs have greater autonomy in patient care than registered nurses (RNs). DNPs can diagnose patient illnesses, treat patients, prescribe medications, and, in many states, operate independent medical practices. Healthcare organizations are relying on DNPs not just for patient care but also for leadership, nurse education, and patient education. It’s a role that requires academic preparation and clinical experience, but many students with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) choose a BSN to DNP program for a faster route to this terminal degree. Students who consider this career path often wonder, “How long are BSN to DNP programs?”
Obtaining the BSN to DNP Degree
In order to answer the question, “How long are BSN to DNP programs?” students should consider which educational format works best with their lifestyles. BSN to DNP programs are available in multiple formats. There are online, traditional classroom, and hybrid curricula. Online programs suit those who work full time and those interested in accelerated academic opportunities.
Depending on the workload and specialization area, an online BSN to DNP program can be completed in as little as 36 months. However, it could take longer depending on the number of courses taken each semester, and the area of specialization.
There are five common concentration areas, including:
- Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner: This professional specializes in caring for older patients in settings such as intensive care units, medical-surgical units, and emergency rooms. Often, these nurse practitioners have to perform life-saving interventions, and their decisions will also have a direct impact on the patient’s quality of life.
- Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner: As people age, their healthcare needs change and become more complex. It’s the job of the adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner to address these evolving needs.
- Family Nurse Practitioner: These APRNs work in primary care settings with patients of all ages. Family nurse practitioners need a variety of skills and deep medical knowledge to manage problems that patients face from their childhood through their senior years.
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner: Pediatric nurse practitioners offer comprehensive medical assistance to young patients. They should also be able to advise parents who are interested in making healthy lifestyle choices for their children.
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner: These APRNs provide comprehensive mental healthcare for patients of all ages. They must be able to evaluate and diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and offer counseling or education when necessary.
The need for APRNs is increasing, and the job outlook is forecast to remain strong through 2026. Healthcare organizations find these providers an asset because they offer increased patient care options, especially in rural or inner-city settings where medical doctors are scarce. Many BSN to DNP graduates find work among these organizations’ executive leadership, in public settings as healthcare policy advisors, at research institutions where they study healthcare best practices, and in academia as part of a nursing faculty.
Any aspiring advanced practice nurse should consider a BSN to DNP program. Online, in-person, and blended educational opportunities are available. Regardless of the model, how long a BSN to DNP program takes is partly up to the student. It’s often possible to accelerate the learning process, and the availability of multiple concentration areas allows students to choose a nursing specialty that suits them.
The Demand for Advanced Nurse Practitioners Is Growing — as Are the Professional Opportunities
There’s a shortage of medical professionals, and the nation’s aging population will require more caregivers, so the demand for healthcare providers will remain high. In rural and inner-city areas, doctors will be in short supply. In addition, there will be an increase in the demand for providers from the anticipated turnover from the doctors and other advanced practice providers who have reached retirement age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for nurse practitioners is much higher than the average demand for other professionals, with expected demand for nurse practitioners to grow by 31 percent over the next decade.
To fill the demand for providers, healthcare organizations look to advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) to establish themselves as autonomous primary care providers. Despite the number of positions that need to be filled, The Journal for Nurse Practitioners reports that the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACCN) may increase the practice requirement from a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to a DNP. For nurses with a BSN degree, this could be a strategic moment to leverage a BSN to DNP program to reach that terminal degree faster and meet the potential new requirement.
This requirement has not taken effect; however, students who are considering entering the field should be aware of the potential change.
Nurses who have obtained their doctorates can become faculty members and nurse educators in healthcare organizations and universities. These doctors of nursing practice will be the thought leaders who shape health are’s future while they pass on best practices in the field to the next generation of nurses. The demand for DNP nursing instructors is high. United States nursing schools have far more candidates for their programs than they have nursing instructors. Over 75,000 prospective nursing students have been unable to enroll in a nursing education program because of the lack of qualified instructors. The median pay for nurse practitioners is $110,930 per year, according to BLS.
Pursue Your BSN to DNP Degree at Maryville University
If you’re looking to advance your nursing career, find out how Maryville University’s online BSN to DNP program can help prepare you to take advantage of higher-level opportunities in the field of nursing.