What are MEPN Programs?

One of the great things about the nurse practitioner profession is that multiple educational paths lead to becoming an NP.  If you choose to become a nurse practitioner later in life, or simply after you have already begun your college education, there are still plenty of programs available to accommodate your needs.  MEPN programs, or Master's Entry Programs in Nursing, are one option.

MEPN programs, also known as accelerated NP programs, bridge programs and direct entry MSN programs, allow students with a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing to become nurse practitioners in just two to three years.  The first year of the program renders students and RN degree while the second year covers master's level nursing material.  Many schools offer multiple MEPN specialty options allowing students to become family nurse practitioners, acute care nurse practitioners, women's health nurse practitioners and more.  Upon completion of an MEPN program, students are prepared to take the national nurse practitioner certification exam and practice as certified nurse practitioners.

Sound too good to be true?  It's not.  Personally, I majored in biology as an undergraduate.  Near the end of my undergraduate degree, I decided to become a nurse practitioner.  Even though I did not have any nursing experience and had not completed any nursing courses aside from the program's prerequisites, I was able to become an NP in just two years.  Although this accelerated path sounds like the perfect solution for quickly becoming an NP, it's not right for everyone.

MEPN programs have a few drawbacks.  First, most of these programs must be completed on a full-time, on-campus basis.  While parts of these programs may be completed online, most programs require you to relocate to the area where you will attend your NP program.  Students will find it difficult to work while completing an MEPN program as these programs require a significant time commitment.  Most days MEPN students will find themselves in class or in clinical placements for the majority of the day.  Studying and completing assignments takes up much of students free time leaving little if no time to hold a job.

Secondly, MEPN programs are more expensive than taking a lengthier path to becoming an NP.  If you are considering a career change and do not hold a nursing degree, your cheapest option for becoming a nurse practitioner is probably to become an RN or BSN at a local community college or through an online program then apply to NP programs.  While this path will take years longer than attending an MEPN program, it will be less costly.  You must consider however, that by becoming a nurse practitioner more quickly you will start earning an NP salary sooner offsetting some of your educational cost. 

If you're looking to become a nurse practitioner and have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing, MEPN, or direct entry MSN programs, are an excellent option to consider.  With some hard work and commitment you could become a nurse practitioner in just two to three years. 

 

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Comments

Hi Tara, 

Here is a list of the programs I am aware of. There are not many in the country and they can be competitive so you may consider applying to more than one program. 

Erin Tolbert

Hi there,
I was wondering if you know where I can find a comprehensive list of nursing schools that offer MEPN programs which lead directly into NP programs. Ideally I would like to stay in California but I am open to applying nationally.
Thanks for your help!
Tara

Taprilet

I don't know. I think candidates should have a BSN with experience (more than two years) . We should be more selective like the CRNA programs. These is no reason why we should allow anyone with a degree in another discipline to become a NP. The requirement should be a BSN with documented experience in your particular branch of nursing.

ron

Hi Maciej,

Good questions.  Yes, to get a DNP will take longer once this is a requirement.  Some schools have already cancelled or suspended their MEPN programs in anticipation of these changes.  However, the DNP will probably not be a requirement by 2015.  It will be much longer.  So, MEPN programs are a great option as long as they are offered.

Once the DNP does become a requirement for NP's, I don't think it will significantly affect the NP/PA ratio significantly.  PA programs are currently overall more competitive than NP programs. A lower percentage of students are accepted to PA programs.  With PA programs already full and receiving too many applicants, the only way the NP/ PA ratio will shift is if more schools begin to offer PA programs over NP programs.  This isn't a trend I have seen.

Erin Tolbert

Good article. How do you envision these programs adapting the DON requirement in 2015? Will it take longer than it is now to become NP? Do you think more people will chose other options like PA because of lesser time commitment?

Maciej