What’s the Difference Between a DNAP and a DNP?

Students entering the medical field may experience confusion regarding the differences between a DNAP and a DNP. This is especially true with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s announcement regarding its recommendation that, by the year 2015, all entry-level nurse practitioner educational programs experience a transition from the Master of Science in Nursing Degree to the DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice). In response to the change, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetics (AANA) supports making the Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) the standard before 2025.


While both the DNAP and DNP require advanced degrees for practicing nurses, the DNAP is a specialty with a sole focus on anesthesia. To become an advanced practice nurse (APN), working nurses must earn their DPN degree, including those focusing on aesthetics. When looking at DNAP vs DNP, it isn’t uncommon nurse anesthesia as a specialization in existing DNP programs. Here are some specific differences between DNP and DNAP programs:

  • Accreditation: The ANCC accredits DNP programs and is for every advanced practice registered nurse, while the Nurse Anesthetists Council for Accreditation (NACA) approves DNAP programs, which are specially designed for nurse anesthetist students
  • Certification: Nurse anesthetists must be nationally certified by the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA), while other advanced practice nurses will require other state or national certifications
  • Program Length: While nursing schools offer DNAP programs as part of the DNP study, the nurse anesthetist specialization may take longer than a general DNP

CRNA to DNAP Programs

Working nurses who have already undergone their certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) at the master’s level and received their certification, can enroll in the DNAP completion program, giving them the chance to earn a higher doctor of nurse anesthesia salary. The number of hours it takes to complete CRNA to DNAP programs will depend on the school or college you’re attending, but most often will be around 32 credit hours. Students can complete their required course hours through a distance learning program or on campus either full-time or on a part-time basis. In order to enroll in CRNA to DNAP programs, students must have a current CRNA license, and a transcript detailing that they’ve completed the anesthesia program.

DNAP Salary Expectations

Upon completion of the DNAP program, embarking upon a career – one that will earn you the higher doctor of nurse anesthesia salary – is the next objective. Those holding a DNAP certification can work in many areas of the healthcare community. For example, clinics, dentists, hospitals, military facilities, and private practices are among the many places throughout the healthcare industry anesthesiologists are needed.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, those who work as Nurse Anesthetists earn an average of $169,450 annually. However, if you’re a resident of Montana, doctor of nurse anesthesia salary could be as much as $252,460 per year. The state of Wyoming follows closely with an annual salary averaging at $250,610 and California at $217,230. When broken down by the hour, the average mean hourly rate is $81.47 as of May 2017.

Of course, for higher pay rates, working nurses may also want to consider a doctor of healthcare administration.