Home Forums DNP Professional Growth The Discouragement Received From Nurse Colleagues When Pursuing DNP

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    Avery H.

    Have you guys ever mentioned to coworkers, classmates, or other healthcare professionals that you are studying to earn your Doctorate in Nursing Practice, and they respond with discouragement or ask you why? Then they follow that up by telling you, you don’t need it, you’re going to take out more loans and be in debt forever, etc. These conversations are happening more and more and I am almost hesitant to mention that I am studying for DNP to my colleagues just because of the negative response or judgement that immediately follows. Does this happen to anyone else?

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Avery H..
    Francis Tesoriere

    I’ve felt something along the lines of what you mentioned in your post about discouragement or tension received by peers when discussing the personal topic of pursuing the DNP degree. Currently pursuing the DNP and working in a busy California emergency department, I’m a little surprised to find that other providers such as Attending/Resident Physicians and PAs have been the most encouraging when sharing with them that I’m pursuing the terminal degree. Nursing peers, especially those working in upper management/administration or as educators are not as receptive to the news of me pursuing the DNP. I can relate to your hesitancy surrounding even mentioning that you’re studying for your DNP. Peers will ask, “why don’t you just go to medical school?” alongside other similarly exhausting questions. To this I say, stay focused, keep studying. Remind and reinforce your peers of the merits of the DNP and why it is essential to the future of healthcare.


    Avery, I am very sorry you had to encounter people with negative comments against your personal and professional growth. Sadly, I had received somewhat negative comments about pursuing a DNP degree as well. However, it might not be as opposing as yours. Regardless of the comments, I do not hesitate to tell as many people as I can that I am pursuing a higher degree and a more advanced practice in order to improve patient outcome and our healthcare system. Becoming any type of advanced practice nurse with a DNP degree does not only improve patient care, but it also advances our nursing profession. As nurse practitioners, we can reduce the workload of the primary care doctors as well as allowing more access to healthcare to different patient population. As clinical nurse specialists, we can improve the nursing workflow and the healthcare system by using evidence-based practice. As DNPs in education, we can produce more effective and reliable nurses in the future. As DNPs in administrative and executives, we can collaborate with different organizations and government sectors to improve public health and healthcare policy at a state, federal, and international level. As you can see, Avery, some people may not understand the potential of the DNPs and what impact we can make in the near future, and that may be the reason why they opposed the idea of earning a DNP. Your decision to continue your education and pursue a DNP degree is something to be proud of. And what we can do as DNP candidates is to educate our colleagues about the impact we can make in the future as DNP graduates. I wish you the best of luck in your journey to earn a DNP.

    Patricia Boyle

    Negative comments in life often come from individuals who themselves have insecurities in the area in which they are discouraging or talking negatively about. To be completely honest the very act of telling people I am in a doctorate program shocks myself. My experience with both telling others and remarking on others mile stone of being in a doctorate program has been extremely positive mixed with confusion and doubt. I love what the anonymous author stated about doctors wishing they had became nurse practitioners so that they could be involved with their family more instead of just education. I too have come across doctors who in addition to losing time with loved ones have substantial debt oppositely of nurse practitioners. Fear or discouragement often comes from a lack of education. I am excited when people ask me what a DNP is because I get the opportunity to explain the relevance of the doctorate nurse practitioner and the difference we are as practitioners. Often times when I am met with discouragement or confusion by other colleagues I encourage them to themselves get a doctorate. As nurses and lifelong learners we are one of the only professions that see education as a necessary part of our career. This element is instilled in us in our undergrad programs. We just need to refresh and remind our colleagues of its importance.

    Carolyn Ann Wilder

    I have not personally encountered anything like this but have heard from a close friend who is a DNP that she experienced being marginalized both prior to obtaining her DNP degree and afterwards. She worked to educate others about her role, her education, and what she could contribute to the team. It took time, repeated engagements, flexibility, and understanding on her part, but now she is very much a part of the team. I find this has been also the case for Nurse Practitioners I know and work with. Many people, in a wide range of professions, do not have enough information about the DNP to be able to make an accurate assessment of its value and need in healthcare. Hasn’t this been part of the struggle of nursing since its inception? We have pushed against barriers, regulations, laws, marginalization and yet, we have continued to be strengthened and persevere in the times of repeated challenge and have proved repeatedly that nursing is the most trusted profession in the United States. I think the best thing we can do it be patient, educate others, and demonstrate our worth.


    I agree with all your comments regarding the negative stigma of the DNP degree in clincal practice. Patricia says it best, individuals who themselves have insecurities in the area they are discouraging. I feel we as DNP’s need to talk about it more often and not be discouraged in expressing our views about how important the degree is to moving our profession forward to the future. WE have to educate others and show the difference and our worth.


    Hello Avery,
    Comments like these are unfortunate but reflect more on the lack of understanding of the role and what it prepares graduates to accomplish than on your decision. Our choices to pursue different educational paths our careers are very personal decisions based on career goals, values, and interests. We should not have to justify them to anyone but alas it happens. Comments like these do give us an invited opportunity to improve the understanding of others by clarifying that health care is extremely complex and in this country it is very broken. Additional education is the path to improve health care outcomes by developing advanced knowledge and skills in nursing, executive leadership, change theory, political advocacy, and translating evidence into practice.

    David Vaughan

    From a profession that has been discouraging formal, advanced education for decades (ADN vs BSN), none should be surprised. I would go on to say that until we decide as a profession that we are (collectively) going to be a force in healthcare, this discouragement is likely to continue. Nursing continues to evolve. Many would like to lead the way in healthcare innovation and policy. In my opinion, nurses are the best suited to have the predominant voice in healthcare. But, as long as we fight amongst ourselves and continue to willingly mold ourselves into a system that is designed to “keep us in our place,” the less we will accomplish.

    For those who think that sounds pretty negative, let me provide a little clarity. I am a new grad DNP. I am also 13 years an FNP, 20 years a nurse, and 50+ years old. Yep, I went back to school after 11 years in practice for the terminal degree. I have been asked all the same why?, will you make more money?, how will it channge what you do? questions. I have met and seen the same discuoragement. The simple answer is because it is important for all of us. Like Wichanee stated above, we are needed in all aspects of healthcare, as Doctors of Nursing. No other healthcare profession touches all aspects of our patient populations the way we do. We outnumber all other healthcare professions. I believe we do hold the answers for how to meet the healthcare needs of the population. We simply must stop hurting one another and stop letting other health professions (like medicine) define who we are and what we do. So, yes, get your DNP. Then get involved and make changes in your organization, in your community, and across the country.

    Aida Girma

    According to a 2018 salary survey by Advance Health Network, DNP-prepared nurse practitioners earn more than their Master’s level counterparts; however, the difference in income is not very significant. However, there are other reasons one may consider attaining their DNP degree. The DNP degree expands one’s knowledge of healthcare delivery models, healthcare policy, quality improvement strategies, and translating research into practice. This equips DNPs with the knowledge and skills to impact healthcare systems and patient outcomes. DNP education also provides the student with in-depth knowledge on critically reviewing research and applying it in the practice setting to improve patient outcomes. DNP nurses can also participate in research to help generate new knowledge, improve nursing practice and advance nursing science. Finally, DNP nurses can contribute to the education and mentoring of nurses at universities and healthcare institutions.
    For many nurse practitioners, the goal may also be the personal achievement of practicing at the highest level of their profession. The DNP degree offers an alternative to the Ph.D. degree, which is research-focused, for those nurse practitioners who want to attain their doctorate but remain practice-focused. There will likely be an even greater shift towards nurse practitioners earning their DNP degree with time.

    Adrienne Nola

    Hello Avery,

    I actually had a different response. My colleagues are very supportive of my decision on pursuing my DNP. They are just worried that I’m taking a lot on my plate- having a full time job, 2 kids, and school all at the same time. Our hospital also offers good tuition reimbursement and additional financial aid when classes are taken in their school. I’m sorry that you didn’t have a positive reception from your co-workers. I do encourage you do to keep pursuing your dreams because at the end of the day, it is your life and for your future.


    Fully agree with Avery, do not let anyone discourage you or your goals and dreams. If that is what they are doing do not spend your time around them. You want to spend time with people that encourage you and support you, along with help you with your goals.

    Sintya Sintya

    Hi Avery,
    I actually have been in your boat before where they questioned why I decided to pursue my DNP degree. It’s mostly coming from my coworkers or other healthcare professionals. As someone who’s a pretty new nurse I often understand why they would ask questions as to why I would jump into getting my DNP degree right away instead of getting experience first and other things. I get where they’re concerns are coming from but I do not let that get into me. I am grateful that I am in a program where it allows me to jump into the program while getting my experience at the same time. It allows me to grow as a nurse while preparing me to become a future practitioner. Similarly exhausting questions on the other hand, others would ask me why I decided to become a DNP instead of going to medical school or become a physician assistant instead? Of course I gave them my reasoning as to why I chose to become a DNP. Remind and reinforce them of the merits of the DNP and why it is essential to the future of healthcare. However, I think the reason others ask these questions for me is to discourage me in pursuing a higher degree and what I love instead of trying to encourage me to become something bigger and better in life.When you dream big, some people just see the magnitude and enormousness of your dreams and goals as way too threatening to them. My suggestion for you is to keep your head up and don’t listen to all of the negativity that people give to you. If DNP is what you love, pursue your dream until the end. Become a DNP provider where you can help educate others the importance of DNP role while doing the things you love! Best of luck!


    The negative comments that I have heard about the DNP is the additional time one must spend in school. I did a lot of research before applying to DNP programs and have seen that many nursing schools are offering the degree. I have also noticed the accreditation process being done by the CCNE. This gives me the impression that the DNP will come to be. To those who bring up these issues I simply say that this is the career path that I have chosen for myself. If anyone had insulted me or keep giving negative comments about my degree choice, I would tell them that it doesn’t matter what they thought about it because it is my decision and will be completing it no matter what. However, the physicians I come in contact with and work with are very supportive and think the DNP is great.


    Hello Avery,
    I am so sorry for all the negative feedback you have received from coworkers and classmates when you have mentioned that you are studying to earn your Doctorate in Nursing Practice. I identified with you. So far, I am the only one from my cohort pursuing graduate-level education. During the undergrad program, many in my cohort wanted to only finish the ADN program. Some student nurses in my cohort stayed to pursue the BSN. Very few have expressed the desire to pursue graduate-level education and are contemplating far in the future. Since my undergrad, I knew I wanted to pursue the DNP but I received a lot of discouragement from my cohort and from many registered nurses during my clinical rotations. Many of the registered nurses and unit managers in different units disagree with undergrad student nurses and discourage them to go to grad school right after finishing the BSN. I was advised to work and get experience first as a registered nurse to find out what I like first. I have been told that the extra money I am investing I will never see again. Now that I am working as a registered nurse, I have been told that all the effort will not be worth it in the end.


    Yes, all the time! It’s frustrating and disheartening that people feel the need to discourage others from pursing higher education. However, my advice is: don’t let the haters get their negativity in your head—turn it to fuel! I know it’s easier said than done, I too am fallible for allowing others negativity affect me, but we need more positivity in higher positions, so keep trucking! The thing is, when people discourage others, it speaks far more to their own character than anything else. I tend to think– if this is how they are speaking to me, how much worst is their own internal dialogue towards pursing their goals in life?

    Megann Synnott

    There is truth the debt to degree argument and I think about this often. That’s one of the ways that nursing remains stuck in this elitism/ colonizer mindset. We make advancing prohibitive for a lot of people who would be wonderful in a different area. However, the benefit is do you want it? It’s a terminal nursing degree. There is nothing anyone else can ask of you, unless you want to augment your education with an MBA or another degree. It allows you access to teach, to be in executive leadership. It’s about knowing what doors you want to open for yourself. If money is truly the only factor that makes a DNP seem less than desirable or pointless, there’s a whole world of corporate nursing out there. If you look, you will find a job that will reward the degree. Personally, I just don’t believe in limiting myself. I want a degree that unlocks all doors, and that’s the DNP.

    Anastasia G Paolini

    Hi Avery,

    I can relate to having received negative responses from co-workers regarding my decision to return to school for my DNP degree. Although mine have been primarily due to the fact that I am a rather new nurse. I had a faculty member in my senior year of nursing school tell my entire class one day that we should not even think about getting our advanced degree without 5 years of nursing experience. I found this kind of upsetting because I believe that everyone is different including how they learn and advance. Plus, there are direct entry DNP programs in which one can totally bypass BSN. I have always wanted to be an NP and right after becoming a nurse applied to DNP FNP school part-time which is a 5 year program because I will need to stay employed full time to provide for my family. I have never been happier in the program and am confident in my ability to become an amazing DNP. I am sorry that you are experiencing this, right now I pick and choose who I tell that I am in school. I try to avoid negative responses and continue to get through my program. As nurses we should encourage co-workers to get their advanced degree and provide positive reactions because it helps the nursing profession in general to grow. We are also in such need of providers in our country it is contributing to helping in this deficit.

    Meredith Coulibaly

    I have kept my admission into a DNP program mostly to myself. However, the coworkers whom I have told have been supportive and encouraging, saying that I will be their boss someday. I think this is because many nurses in my department are pursuing masters degrees. It’s almost become the culture at my workplace to go to graduate school, because we work in an emergency room and we are burnt out. We know we can’t work there forever.

    Ryan Lau

    In my work area, my coworkers were very encouraging about it and told me that because I am young, I should pursue more schooling before I get older and have to deal with family and other bigger responsibilities in life. I guess it has to do with the older you get, the more chances of you not wanting to go back to school. They were telling me to get my bedside experience and go back to school as soon as possible to pursue a higher education. In some cases, some older nurses may feel jealous deep down that you are leaving the unit or upset that you may be better than them in the long run but that should not stop you from pursuing your dreams and goals. I have been told however by many coworkers that pursuing a higher education is better as bedside can be tiring after some period of time. In the end, you make the best out of every situation and do what you want to do. If you put your mind to it and really have a passion to pursue the DNP role, then nothing will get in your way.

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by Ryan Lau.
    Ernst Uychocde

    Hi Avery,

    I do not currently have that issue in the moment. When I tell my co-workers that I am currently studying for a DNP degree they seem to be interested in what the degree entails.

    However, I do receive some comments from others like “Why don’t you just be a doctor?” or, “That’s going to take a long time to pursue”. It does get a bit frustrating sometimes trying to explain why I want to pursue further education in the field.

    The roadblock to understanding and clarity of what the degree is, seems to be that others believe the DNP is just more letters to add to your name.

    A lot of nurses, especially those who have been practicing for quite a while now, do not have much information regarding what the Doctor of Nursing Practice is. I tell my colleagues that while I enjoy being a bedside floor nurse, I also what to get into the world of nursing education, mentorship, and research application. When I explain this to them, it opens up their mind more about what the degree entails.

    I am truly sorry that you feel discouraged by your colleagues, but I hope that one day you will be able to work with them or others as a DNP and educate them about what the role of the advanced practice nurse encompasses. Also, maybe they will see that the APRN can be a powerful collaborator and resource in the workplace.

    Thanks for sharing.

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