In October of 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, which recommended moving the current level of preparation needed for advanced nursing practice from the master’s to doctorate level.
The AACN set an initial goal to phase out master’s level prep for APRNs and transition fully to DNP by 2015. That deadline has come and gone, and a master’s level education remains the minimum requirement to practice as an APRN (additional requirements vary per certification).
However, the transition has been discussed for many years—and not only by AACN. The National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) set a goal of 2025 to move all entry-level nurse practitioner education to the DNP degree.
While enrollment in DNP programs has increased continuously for 20 years running as of the AACN’s most recent Annual Survey, a DNP has not yet become required to practice as an APRN.
However, the landscape is changing and the DNP is trending towards becoming the standard for APRNs at the highest level.