Are you considering going back to school for your DNP but are concerned about fitting it around your schedule or wonder how you will pay for it?

We asked Julie Tsirambidis to write about her experience attending Kent State’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program while working full-time as Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and serving as the Director of Advanced Practice and a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Akron Children’s Hospital in Akron, Ohio.

I chose to pursue a Doctorate in Nursing Practice because I wanted to be a role model for other nurses in my organization. As an organizational leader of advanced practice registered nurses and a practicing nurse practitioner, I see how important it is for APRNs to earn a DNP.

Working full-time while going to school certainly was challenging, so the flexibility of the program was critical. Kent State’s DNP curriculum is online and asynchronous, so I am able to continue practicing as a clinician and maintain my director role while attending the program part-time. The work can be challenging though, which has required me to be focused and dedicated to my studies.

Affording the program was not one of my major concerns as my employer provides tuition reimbursements. Many employers offer some form of financial assistance; regardless, Kent State’s DNP program is still an affordable option if your employer does not.

Although I am just completing my DNP degree, I have already applied the skills and knowledge I gained in the program to my daily nursing practice. I have lead quality improvement initiatives and used leadership skills and population management knowledge to effectively create new APRN programmatic delivery models. Additionally, I continue to influence and affect cultural change to embrace the APRN roles in inpatient and ambulatory settings.

While the percentage of APRNs with doctoral degrees is still relatively low, the number is steadily increasing in no small part to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Future of Nursing report. The IOM report recommended that nurses practice to the fullest extent of their education and have the highest scientific and system bases training possible.

The response to this report continues to drive the profession toward uniformity in APRNs being doctorally-prepared. This is imperative if we are to truly partner with and complement our physician colleagues in the clinical arena, as well as in the health care leadership environment.

I highly encourage all advanced practice registered nurses to consider enrolling in a DNP program, even if you are working full-time.