RN to DNP: Licensing and Careers
After completing the advanced practice course of study of the RN to DNP program you are ready to take the certification examination for your chosen specialty as a nurse practitioner.
There is no certification exam for DNP. As noted by the unified statement of nurse practitioner certification organizations.
“PhD, DNSc, DNP, MSN are credentials that represent academic degrees earned by individuals when they successfully complete the requisite course of study. An academic degree is not a role.
Certification examinations test the competencies of the role and not the degree. It is not appropriate to attempt to validate an academic degree with a certification examination. Any certification examination at the degree level would be too broad to determine the knowledge and skills that are applicable to the roles or specialties associated with the roles.
The seamless transition from the masters to doctoral preparation for nurse practitioner practice does not require additional testing beyond nurse practitioner certification to measure competency to practice.”
In the U.S., nurse practitioners are licensed by the state in which they practice, and have national certification through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Nurse Practitioners also have national certification through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), and for Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, through the National Certification Corporation (NCC).
There is no advanced practice certification examination that parallels the NCLEX-RN. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) recommends the use of APN certification examinations as a basis for state licensure and board certification decisions.
There are certification exams for all of the specialties offered by the Institute – see specialty options for the certification exams applicable to each specialty.
Read more about the difference between licensure and certification.
As an advanced practice nurse you are required to renew your registered nurse’s license and your APN specialty license/certification with state boards on a regular basis.
Each state has its own authorization process for APNs – see those for Massachusetts as an example.
The MGH Institute’s new terminal degree supports the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) 2004 decision that advanced practice nursing education should move from the master’s to the doctoral level by 2015.
This recommendation does not constitute a direct policy change; each state and its Board of Registration in Nursing sets its own requirements for licensure.
Our Doctor of Nursing Practice – designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice – offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral degrees, by providing clinicians with the knowledge and skills essential to accountability for advanced practice. A PhD in Nursing, by contrast, has traditionally prepared nurses for research careers directed at knowledge or theory generation, and for academic teaching.
Building on the MGH Institute’s renowned graduate-level nursing curriculum, the innovative DNP program provides an unmatched opportunity to build on your knowledge, expand your professional roles, and contribute to improved health care outcomes through practice, policy, and scholarship.
The program expands the focus of nursing leadership in increasingly complex systems of care for a culturally diverse patient population through collaborative and independent practice in a variety of health care settings.
Upon completion of your doctoral degree requirements, you will be prepared to provide leadership for health system change in a variety of settings – whether as a manager of quality initiatives, an executive in a health care organization, a director of clinical programs, or a faculty member responsible for clinical teaching and program delivery.
Read more from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) on the factors building momentum for changing to the DNP as the terminal degree for nursing.
The MGH Institute provides Career Services for students and alumni. Below are Web sites, unaffiliated with MGH Institute, that provide valuable information on Nursing careers.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing: With a resource section on nursing shortages
Campus RN: Career information, news about nursing, job search and more
Sigma Theta Tau International Honors Society for Nursing: Great source for leadership opportunities;
MGH Institute has its own chapter of the Society: Upsilon Lambda.
National Health Service Corps (NHSC) For Nurse Practitioners
For more than three decades, the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has been recruiting caring health professionals to serve in rural areas where the closest clinic could be miles away, and in inner-city neighborhoods, where economic and cultural barriers prevent people from seeking and receiving the health care they deserve.
NHSC delivers a workforce of caring and culturally sensitive clinicians dedicated to serving the underserved. Through a combination of programs, including an educational loan repayment program, and a scholarship program, NHSC deploys a cadre of primary care clinicians who are motivated by an extraordinary desire to serve, along with a commitment to improve the health of underserved communities.
NHSC provides scholarships and loan repayment for advanced practice nurses who serve two to four years in an NHSC-approved site.
For more information about National Health Service Corps opportunities, email Clinical Assistant Professor Patricia Reidy.
Read Shana Kaplan's (Class of 2009) blog on her experience at the Tennessee Primary Care Association through the NHSC's summer SEARCH program.