Chatting with a nurse practitioner colleague this weekend, I learned that she is strongly considering going back to school for her DNP degree. Admittedly, I am not thinking about taking the plunge into furthering my education – at least not for now. My initial thought as we discussed her DNP plans was “Ugh…the cost!”. Most nurse practitioners won’t get a raise along with advancing their degree. So, the move must truly be made in the name of education or taking one’s career in a new direction.
If you’re a nurse practitioner thinking about going back to school to get your DNP, or are looking at going all the way with your first nurse practitioner degree, there are some tactics to consider for making the experience more affordable. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
1. Employment with an Educational Institution
If you live in an area with a university hospital or medical center, it may be an option to work in a clinical capacity for the medical arm of the university while enrolling in a DNP program. Many universities offer discounted tuition to employees and nurse practitioners are often eligible for these benefits. Plan ahead here – typically, universities will ask that you’re employed for a certain period of time before you an receive tuition discounts or reimbursement.
2. Assess All of Your Options
Shooting for an Ivy League degree sounds tempting, but diplomas with a ‘name’ attached are pricey. Depending on your career intentions, receiving your DNP from another accredited but lesser known institution is certainly an option. Check out universities in your area, especially state schools. For on-campus education, these are likely to be less costly than private options. Online schools also offer DNP degrees for nurse practitioners. Be sure to think through the logistics of your education if you plan to study remotely. You will be more responsible for making connections related to things like your capstone project. This post will give you an idea of DNP tuition costs.
3. Make Your Next Career Move in Ahead of Schedule
If you’re going back for your DNP in anticipation of making a nurse practitioner career transition, for example from clinical practice to teaching, getting a head start on your next step could help pay for your degree. Academic institutions may hire masters prepared nurse practitioners and help cover the cost of obtaining a doctoral degree as part of a benefit package. This not only helps the credibility of university faculty, but also provides a way for you to advance your NP education in an affordable manner.
4. Cut Associated Costs
Education costs include a lot more than just tuition. Advancing your nurse practitioner education will mean buying books, supplies such as a laptop, and possibly relocating or travel for on-campus components of your education. Most DNP students continue working as nurse practitioners while they earn their degrees which certainly helps cover expenses. Paying attention to these seemingly petty costs, however will be to your benefit – insignificant expenses add up! So, plan ahead and look for ways to save before you swipe.
Are you planning to go back to school for your DNP degree? How will you finance your education?
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