A direct entry degree program in nursing is designed to qualify you as quickly as possible for an advanced nursing position. They make it possible to start your nursing career many steps up from he bottom, even if you have not taken the educational and employment path that most RNs do in their early stage of their careers. The main beneficiaries of direct entry masters (sometimes called simply “MDE”) degrees are:
- Practicing nurses (generally RNs who have come out of an associates nursing program) who do not have a BSN.
- People who have a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing, and want move quickly through both a BSN and MSN degree and get out into the nursing workforce as fast as they can.
Confusion About Direct Entry MSNs
The problem, if you’re searching for colleges that offer this option, is that many schools with direct entry degrees call them by other names on their websites. You’ll find programs meant to get you quickly to your nursing masters called “BSN to MSN” or “nursing “bridge” programs or MSNs for non-nursing majors. Some schools call them “entry level masters” degrees. Some of the programs are in general nursing, but the most popular ones focus on preparing grads to be nurse practitioners, nurse leaders, educators or some other type of advanced practitioner.
Some key points to be aware of:
Getting a master’s if you’re a practicing nurse with no BSN
Working nurses who have only an ADN, ASN or AAS can find a variety of relatively quick programs designed to get them through the requirements for a BSN and then complete a master’s degree. If you do the entire program, for example, at Purdue Global’s nursing school, the entire process from start to finish, generally take around three years – one year for a compressed version of a BSN and then two more years to complete you nursing. The first part of this and many other program will provide you with the core courses needed to finish your nursing bachelors. A few of these allow you to actually take some of your MSN credits while you are earning your bachelors.
MSNs for those with a non-nursing bachelors who want a career change
The steps you’ll need to take will vary depending on what you earned your bachelor’s degree in. It won’t be necessary to re-take any courses. You’ll find that some direct entry MSN schools only admit students with bachelor’s in a health-related subject. Other schools are more open accepting people with non-nursing majors from all academic backgrounds. Before truly diving into your master’s program work, you will be required to take some prerequisite “core” courses in health science topics like biology, nutrition or public health. Some schools also give preference to applicants that have some kind of clinical experience either as a volunteer nursing assistant in a hospital or through training to be an EMS. In most cases it should take three years of study at a normal past to complete all aspects of this type of degree.
Similar approach with entry level nursing (ELM) programs
ELM is essentially another term that describes a direct entry program. It’s a master’s degree designed for a student who has an undergraduate degree in something other than nursing. Most programs have a requirement that if you are taking an entry level nursing masters, you must finish a certain portion of your training aimed at licensure, and then pass your NCLEX-RN exam at a specific point in the program. It’s important to be aware that, while most of these MSNs take two years to complete, there are a wide variety of course structures, meaning that the degree can be completed in different time frames at different colleges. Some grad programs will allow you to get out and start your nursing career in less than two years. A search for entry level MSN’s will turn up many of the same schools you’ll find looking for direct entry programs.
Does every school require GRE tests?
The Graduate Record Examination or GRE test is accepted by many schools offering all types of masters. But in many cases today it’s not required. If can be to your advantage to take the general GRE if you feel you will be successful at demonstrating your verbal and mathematic analytical skills. Additionally, you can take a subject specific GRE in biology, chemistry or other science area, which can be of value if you got a humanities bachelor degree and would like to demonstrate that you have a strong aptitude for the sciences. But before you make this effort, look closely at the school you want to get your MSN from. If you’re not a great test-taker, he school may be willing to accept you without any GRE test score.
Reasons To Get Your MSN
The goal of virtually all direct entry MSN program students is to get their bachelors and masters degree in less time and at less cost than it would take to do the two degrees separately. The specialization areas that these masters degrees can open up include:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Educator
- Nurse Midwife
- Clinical Nurse Leader
- Executive Nursing Manager
- Nurse Case Manager
Many schools will also ask you to focus a specialty in your MSN program such as neonatal care, gerontology, pediatrics or women’s health.
Which is harder, NP School or PA School?
Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant programs are both among the most demanding in the health field. For someone who is looking to get into direct patient care, the only more difficult path would be to go to medical school with the goal of being a full-fledged MD.
Many students see less value becoming a doctor than in the past. The cost of medical school is tremendous, the time commitment, particularly when you consider the internship most young doctors have to do after they graduate from med school, can be anywhere from six to 10 years, and the career of a physician tends to pay less and involve much more stress than it once did.
That’s not to say it’s easy to become an NP or PA. Both courses of study can require up to two thousand hours of clinical study. In terms of time commitments, which type of degree is tougher can depend on how you choose to pursue it. NPs tend to specialize in a particular area like midwifery, while PA’s generally are generalists.
PA school is generally three years in length. The effort required to become an NP, on the other hand, is highly variable. Depending on whether you obtain an MSN degree or take a “bridge” program or a direct entry degree that gives you a BSN plus an MSN in an abbreviated time frame.
Many nurses are attracted to these specialties because they can allow you to practice with more independence than a nurse can in a typical hospital setting. Also, both NPs and PAs generally earn an average salary in excess of $100.000. per year. If you’re thinking of going the NP route, however, be aware that it has become more of an expectation in the health field that a practicing NP should have a doctorate or DNP degree. This isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule, but it’s something to consider, as the doctorate degree can involve a good deal of work and extra time on your part.
Here are examples of requirements for some key online direct entry msn programs
Purdue is a public school that’s now one of the largest online learning providers in the U.S. It’s fast track RN to BSN degree is:
For RNs who have a nursing associates’s degree or diploma.
As students complete their studies for a BSN, they also take core requirements for the school’s master’s degree in nursing.
Upon completing the BSN and masters core requirements, the student’s can take a “condensed” MSN program that can be completed more quickly than a standard program.
Purdue Global’s Accelerated BSN to MSN
See all of Purdue Global’s degree programs
Walden offers several “bridge” programs that can be RN to MSN track for practicing nurses with a hospital diploma or associate degree, or can be taken as RN to BSN “Accelerate into Master’s” (AIM) track where students earn credits toward a master’s as they complete a bachelor’s degree.
MS Bridge for Registered Nurses – Education
MS in Nursing Bridge – Nursing Informatics
MS in Nursing – Bridge for Registered Nurses – Adult & Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
See all of Walden’s programs
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon has several bridge programs designed for RNs who have a bachelor’s degree in health sciences or some other related field. After completing prerequisites for a nursing bachelor’s, students choose a track for their MSN:
MS in Nursing Education – Bridge
MS in Nursing – Public Health – Bridge
MS in Nursing – Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems – Bridge