RN to DNP Programs

RN to DNP Bridge Programs


After working as a registered nurse, or RN, for a period of time, you may find that you are ready to progress to a more advanced level. If you aspire to eventually become a nurse practitioner and to even run your own practice, you will have to earn your doctor of nursing practice, or DNP. Fortunately, you don't necessarily have to work your way through a bachelor's and master's program first. RN to DNP bridge programs are available, and they can help you get there more quickly.

What are RN to DNP Bridge Programs?

As the term implies, a bridge program is one that bridges the gap between different levels of training, education, and experience. RN to DNP bridge programs take RNs' previous education and experience into account, allowing them to advance to the doctoral level more quickly. These programs are available to RNs who have associate degrees in nursing, or ADNs, or bachelors of science in nursing, or BSNs. If you have an ADN, you will have more coursework to complete than if you have a BSN.

What are the Prerequisites?

Prerequisites for most RN to DNP bridge programs are quite stringent. They also vary depending on your current level of education. For example, if you do not have a BSN yet, you will likely have more prerequisite courses to complete before you can officially enroll. If you do have a BSN, you may already meet the educational requirements. Additional prerequisites may include:

  • A minimum of one year of continuous nursing experience
  • A valid RN license
  • A current resume or curriculum vitae
  • A GPA of 3.0 or higher in your previous degree programs
  • A specific minimum score on the Graduate Record Exam, or GRE
  • Letters of recommendation
  • A statement of professional goals
  • An interview either in person or over the phone

Space tends to be very limited in RN to DNP bridge programs, so it is crucial to ensure that you meet all of the prerequisites prior to applying. That way, your application will be processed quickly, and you will have a better chance of being admitted.

What is the Duration of RN to DNP Bridge Programs?

It's natural to be in a rush to earn your DNP. However, as it is the highest level of education that a nurse can attain, it isn't something that comes easily. The duration of the program that you will complete depends on whether you currently have an ADN or a BSN. Most people are able to complete RN to DNP bridge programs within four to six years. If you have an ADN upon entering the program, you can expect to receive your BSN around the one-year mark. Over the course of your program, you will have to complete anywhere from 80 to 100 credit hours of study and up to 1,000 hours of supervised clinical practice.

What Kinds of Courses Are Included?

The courses that must be taken to complete an RN to DNP bridge program vary by program. Before enrolling, make sure that the program that you are considering offers courses that suit your desired area of specialization.

Some of the courses that you can expect to complete during your RN to DNP bridge program include Pharmacology, Differential Diagnosis, Comprehensive Health Assessment, Pathophysiology, Business Management, Health Policy and Economics, Informatics, Advanced Statistics, and Leadership.

Are Online RN to DNP Bridge Programs Available?

It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to complete an RN to DNP bridge program. It is more difficult still if you must hold down a full-time job while completing your studies. If this is the case, you should look into online RN to DNP bridge programs. Such programs allow you to complete much of the required courses online. Some follow asynchronous schedules, which means that you have the flexibility to complete coursework on your own schedule. For some programs, campus visits are still required. In-person clinical practice is also required, and you can usually select a convenient local healthcare facility to complete that portion.

How Does Supervised Clinical Practice Work?

Just like when you earned your ADN or BSN, the coursework that you complete during your RN to DNP bridge program will be supplemented and reinforced by supervised, in-person clinical training. Most programs require students to complete around 1,000 hours of this type of work. Clinical practice lets you put the concepts that you have been studying to work in the real world, so it is a very integral part of your training. The facility where you complete your training must be approved by your bridge program. Make sure that a convenient facility is nearby before enrolling in a program.

Upon completing your RN to DNP bridge program, you will have the credentials and education that are needed to work as a nurse practitioner. From there, the sky really is the limit when it comes to the career possibilities.