Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) + Companion Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Frontier Nursing University will begin offering a new program to all students enrolling in the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program after January 1, 2014. This new program will allow all students to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and have the opportunity to seamlessly progress to a companion Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
Our mission at Frontier Nursing University (FNU) is to educate nurses to become competent, entrepreneurial, ethical and compassionate nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners who are leaders in the primary care of women and families with an emphasis on underserved and rural populations. The addition of the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program provides the opportunity for nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners to advance their practice skills and become leaders in health care.
What is the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree?
The DNP is a terminal doctorate degree for nursing practice. It is a practice-focused degree, rather than a research-focused degree such as the (PhD). The DNP curriculum builds on the traditional master's programs by providing additional education in evidence-based practice, quality improvement, and systems leadership, as well as other key areas for advanced practice. The DNP is designed for nurses seeking a terminal degree in nursing practice and offers an alternative to research-focused doctoral programs. The DNP focuses on providing leadership for evidence-based practice. This requires competence in translating research to practice, evaluating evidence, applying research findings in decision-making, and implementing viable clinical innovations to change practice. The DNP is a clinical doctorate designed to prepare nurses to assume leadership roles in the areas of advanced clinical practice.
(This information is from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) web site www.aacn.nche.edu)
What is the Frontier Nursing University (FNU) MSN+Companion DNP Program Description?
The DNP program allows students with a baccalaureate or associate degree in nursing to enter directly into a program designed to allow students to complete a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and opt to continue seamlessly into a companion Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program. The MSN program offers three tracks: nurse-midwife, family nurse practitioner and women’s health care nurse practitioner. The companion DNP is appropriate for all three roles. Students who complete the MSN+Companion DNP become primary health care providers and leaders in the health care system as well as change agents who influence the system to provide high-quality patient care to families in rural and underserved areas.
Students in this program will be admitted to the MSN+Companion DNP and upon successful completion of the MSN will be able to immediately continue their education to complete the companion DNP with no further admission process. Students will have the opportunity to stop with the MSN, or continue to complete the companion DNP.
FNU Post Graduate DNP (Post-Master's DNP) Description
FNU continues to offer a post graduate DNP degree. This program is available for certified nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners with a population focus in family (across the lifespan), women’s health care, pediatrics, and adult-gerontology in primary care. The program is 33 credits and is completed in 15 months.
1. When did the MSN + Companion DNP program begin?
- The new MSN+Companion DNP program began in January 2014 with Class 119.
- Bridge Entry Option Classes beginning with Class 108 were enrolled in the new ADN Bridge Entry for the MSN+Companion DNP Program.
2. Do I need to take the GRE?
- No, the GRE is not an admission requirement. The GPA from your most current degree must be 3.0 or higher.
3. When will the application for the new MSN+Companion DNP program be posted and ready for prospective students?
- The application is currently available on the web page. Click here for the DNP Application
4. What are the basics of the new program that new students need to know?
- We offer a high-quality program that provides an integrated course of study and allows students to complete the core requirements for their specialty (nurse-midwife, family nurse practitioners, or women’s health care nurse practitioner) while integrating the DNP competencies.
- In our DNP program, a MSN is granted when the core competencies for the specialty are completed. This allows students to take the certification exam and begin to practice in their specialty field while they continue to work on the DNP.
5. If continuing into the companion DNP, how much time will I have to prepare and take the national certification exam?
- The MSN is designed to include time to prepare for the certification exam during the last terms while students are completing the MSN clinical experience. In the last term students enroll in a one credit course, Preparation for Comprehensive Exam Course, which prepares them for the FNU Comprehensive Exam and start the review process for the national certification exam. Additionally, there is a break of two weeks between the last term of the MSN and starting the DNP, and during the first term of the DNP, students take only one course allowing time to continue to study and take the national certification exam. Students will be expected to successfully complete the national certification exam during the first term of the companion DNP.
6. Can I take time off between completing the MSN and starting the companion DNP?
- Students may take an Academic Hiatus of up to one term or three months between the MSN and the DNP if necessary. Students are encouraged to continue and complete the DNP without a break. Research has shown that students who are continuously enrolled have a higher rate of successfully completing their educational goals as compared to those who take an Academic Hiatus. Students who do not enroll in the Companion DNP courses by three months after completing the MSN or PGC will need to reapply to complete the DNP.
7. Can I just get an MSN and not complete the DNP?
- A student may choose to opt-out of the program upon completion of the MSN. However, it is strongly recommended that students complete the DNP.
8. Why is it recommended that students complete the DNP?
- You want to be ready to provide high quality care, contribute to improving health care for families and be a leader in your field. Completing both the MSN and the DNP will provide the best education to prepare you for this role.
- Due to the increasing complexity of health care, there is a strong movement across the United States to require a DNP for entry into advanced practice roles. Although there is no regulatory change at this time, there is a high probability that there will be in the future. You want to be ready with the best credentials for that change.
9. Can I return to complete the DNP after opting out with an MSN?
- If a student chooses to stop after completing the MSN, they will be eligible to apply to the FNU’s Post-MSN+Companion DNP program at a future date.
10. What is the program plan?
11. How much clinical experience will I need during the program?
- Students will complete at least 675 clinical hours as well as required experiences during the MSN curriculum. Click here to view the catalog for clinical hour requirements
- Students will complete an additional 360 hours prior to finishing the DNP. Click here to view the catalog for clinical hour requirements
12. How often do I need to come to campus?
- There are two required trips to campus, one three-day session for orientation and one eight-day session for clinical simulated practice prior to starting clinical. These trips are required for all students even if they opt out at the MSN.
- ADN Bridge Entry students must complete one additional trip to campus for the Crossing the Bridge session between their Bridge year and the start of the advanced courses.
13. When must decisions about doing both the MSN+Companion DNP be made?
- All students who are accepted into the program will be enrolled into the MSN+Companion DNP program. Students will be asked about their intention to stay in the program early in their program of study and again closer to conferring the MSN. The faculty will work with students to make the best choices for the individual student’s career path.
14. Is there an option for nurses who already have an MSN but want to complete a post graduate certification in a specialty area? (For example, a nurse is an FNP and wants to add certification as a CNM.)
- There is a Post Graduate Certificate (PGC) + Companion DNP program option. Students will have an individualized program plan for the PGC portion of the program. They may then continue on to complete the Companion DNP unless they choose to opt-out of the DNP.
15. What are the admissions requirements for each program?
16. How will the MSN be awarded with the companion DNP?
- Students may stop by taking an Academic Hiatus for up to 3 months at the end of the MSN or PGC before continuing to complete the Companion DNP. If they choos to opt-out of the DNP at this time, they may return to complete the DNP but will need to reapply to the program.
17. How will FNU determine who will be included in graduation if students choose to opt out and possibly return later?
- Students who opt out with an MSN will receive the MSN degree during the commencement ceremony.
- Students who remain to complete the DNP will be awarded the MSN and the DNP degree during the commencement ceremony.
18. What is the benefit of completing the companion DNP as opposed to coming back at a future date to complete the Post-Master's DNP?
- The new MSN curriculum has incorporated many of the DNP core competencies. This allows students to complete the companion DNP with only 19 additional credits. The Post-Master's DNP is designed for those who received their MSN prior to the implementation of the newly revised MSN curriculum. This Post-Master's DNP curriculum includes 33 credits. Therefore it is more time and cost effective for students taking the MSN+Companion DNP to complete the companion DNP.
- MSN+Companion DNP Total Credits
MSN DNP TOTAL CNM 64 19 81 FNP 61 19 78 WHCNP 59 19 76
19. Why can’t I return and take the Companion DNP at any time in the future?
- The companion DNP has been designed to complement the newly revised MSN. Students who successfully complete the post January 2014 MSN are eligible to directly continue to the companion DNP with no further admission process. One students leave FNU, they will must apply to the Post-Master's DNP. No one who is not currently a FNU student can be admitted directly into the companion DNP program.