Pursuing a DNP after RN-BS in Nursing graduation

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Nurse practitioner assisting younger nurse.

There are a number of paths for those who hope to work directly with patients in health care. Even after completing an associate degree program to attain initial registered-nurse certification, there are many ways to continue your post-secondary education and learn more about nursing and caregiving.


Entering the online Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at Rutgers University can be a good next step, but it doesn’t have to be your ultimate destination. Many students who earn their bachelor of nursing online will then pursue a master’s degree, and eventually work toward a Doctor of Nursing Practice certification. This path may not be for everyone, but the RN to BSN offerings can be extremely valuable when seeking a DNP.

DNP basics

The DNP affords nurses who hold it a considerable level of authority and esteem. While it isn’t mandatory to earn a DNP to reach any level of nursing more specialized than an RN, more and more elite hospital systems and clinics are expected to look for DNP-qualified nurses in the near future.


Many of those who seek DNPs do so to earn the skills necessary for a variety of critical, high-level administrative roles. These include positions as instructors, clinical faculty, and supervisors. DNPs also serve as ambassadors for the field of nursing itself, called upon to represent the profession in situations requiring their testimony or advocacy.

A small but growing field

NurseJournal noted that only 1 percent of U.S. nurses possess their doctorate. However, throughout the early 2010s, the number of DNP students has slowly but steadily risen. To wit:


  • In its survey of the profession, the Doctors of Nursing Practice journal noted that in 2012, there were 10,331 DNPs practicing in the U.S.
  • By 2015, that figure had shot up considerably, and there were 19,746 American DNPs in action.
  • Most nurse practitioner programs at this time are also DNP programs.


The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists believes that by 2020, the U.S. will need to double its current total of DNPs. This only means the demand for RN to BSN students interested in the DNP path will likely grow in recent years.

Why pursue a DNP?

DNPs usually assume highly specialized roles in fields such as anesthesiology, midwifery, promoting better health habits, and education. They also labor to develop evidence-based practice guidelines based on the most up-to-date research. But regardless of their specific concentration, the core purpose of nursing for these professionals lies in the management of clinical practice, which is likely to include many patients with chronic conditions.


The DNP path is also one of the most financially advantageous a nurse can pursue. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2017, DNP-educated nurses earned a median salary of $103,880, with some salaries reaching well over $140,000.

Choosing the best path


Any RN planning to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing who wants to eventually be an anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist, nurse practitioner, or certified nurse-midwife must obtain a DNP. There is no way around this, as the professional associations advocating for all of these professions demand it. For other RN to BSN students, though, it’s up to them whether to seek a doctorate.


As pointed out by NurseJournal, it takes years to attain a DNP; only an M.D. or Ph.D. typically requires more time. This means a considerable investment of personal dedication and emotional fortitude, and at times the process can become stressful.


However, those hoping to be nurse practitioners and stand at the vanguard of caregiving should not hesitate to pursue this goal. The online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Rutgers University is a great way to get started on that path.


Recommended readings:

Why earn an RN-BSN online

A snapshot of key RN to BSN courses at Rutgers





Oncology Nursing Society

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists/Institute of Medicine

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Doctors of Nursing Practice journal