Why Get A Master of Science in Nursing?
If you’re an RN looking to improve your career education, you’ll find a wide range of specialties to pick from in online MSN degrees.
According to government statistics (BLS.gov), the job growth outlook for registered nurses between now and 2024 will be 16% — much higher than average for U.S. careers. Employment growth for “advanced” practice nurses such as nurse anesthetists, forensic nurse specialists, gerontology nurses and nurse educators is expected to be even greater – 31% by 2024 (BLS.gov).
Here are some schools offering advanced nursing degrees:
MS Nursing – Public Health
DNP Doctor of Nursing Practice
MS Nursing – Leadership Health Care Systems, Bridge Degree
MS Nursing – Nursing Education
MS Nursing – Health Care Informatics
Doctor of Nursing Practice – Educational Leadership
View more Grand Canyon degree programs
The most widely recognized types of MSN degrees are:
Masters in Nursing Education
A degree that can qualify you for a variety of management positions, but which is broadly focused on developing your ability to mentor and teach other nurses. Post graduate learning in nurse education will boost your skills in instruction, development of curriculum and administration. Some nurses with this degree may move out of patient care into teaching at nursing schools.
Public Health Nursing
Public health nurse specialists tend to work outside of hospitals in settings where they can affect, or in some cases run, programs that affect the community. It’s a unique specialty that can result in you working in a public health department, community center, a school, clinic or even a correctional facility. Postgrad degrees in this specialty generally include more training in social sciences than other master of arts degrees in nursing. Public health specialists also focus on coming up with ways to prevent diseases in the community, rather and only treating them after they have arisen.
An MSN leadership degree requires you to take courses in that teach management in the healthcare environment and other industries. Nurse leaders manage everything from staff scheduling to organization of computer records and medical data processing. Additionally, a degree in this specialty can lead to a management position in the drug industry or other type of business connected to health care. It’s one of the broader masters of arts or science in nursing degrees, and can help enable a wonderfully wide range of career possibilities.
Administration MSNs are somewhat similar to leadership degrees. In most basic terms, this masters of science degree is designed to qualify you to become a director of nursing administration. In a large hospital, this is a job that involves little or no direct patient care but which requires a great deal of organizational work that may include creating business plans and working to solve problems with the business managers of a hospital. The most senior position one can usually aim for this type of training is “chief nurse executive.” In smaller facilities, qualified nurse leaders may still work directly with patients at least part time, which dedicating a part of their time to scheduling, discharge planning and case management.
Traditionally, most forensic nurses most often work with the criminal justice community, helping medical examiners and coroners understand crime scenes and analyze suspicious deaths. But the specialty has expanded a good deal in recent years, and nurse forensic specialists can now work on examining sexual assault victims, help lawyers involved in medical malpractice or elder abuse cases, or manage patients who are in correctional facilities. A nurse trained in this specialty may even appear as an expert witness in court.
Informatics nurses need to be good with computers and interested in managing the complex flow of information in medical care today. It’s a specialty that can provide opportunities everywhere from a part time side job entering codes for insurance coverage from a home computer to helping a large hospital create a new data management system to administer patient care, drug administration and more. The intensive growth in electronic medical records has boosted the demand for informatics specialists who can help organize information and get it into a format that’s understandable to clinicians, insurors and business people in the health field.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
A clinical nursing specialist or CNS gives care directly to patients like a basic RN, but usually has an expertise in a single clinical specialty. The CNS usually focus on oncology, pediatrics, emergency care or some other particular area. Because of a high level of skill in the specialty, the CNS may tend to work more in a consulting role with doctors and administrators and a non-specialized nurse, and often have responsibility to change care plans, advise other nurses and diagnose some problems on their own. Sometimes known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses or APRNs, these caregivers must have an MSN degree, and in some cases have doctorate nursing degrees, and some gain specialty certification by earning post masters nursing certificates.
Acute Care Nursing
Nurses in this specialty generally work in environments where patients come in with very immediate problems that require medical intervention. That would include emergency rooms, hospital units focused on critical care and some types of doctor’s offices or walk-in clinics. An acute care specialist may also help manage patients before or after operations. In addition to a masters of science in nursing, the work requires certification by your state board of nursing.
Nurse Practitioners: A Changing Degree Picture
Nurse practitioners sprung up during the 1960’s, to provide medical care in places where there were no doctors. Since then, it’s become one of the most desirable specialties in nursing, with a quality work environment and generally good salaries.
It was once possible to be a nurse practitioner with only an MSN degree. But that has changed as states have moved to regulate the higher level tasks NPs provide, which can include prescribing drugs. Many states now have a requirement that you must have a DNP or Doctor of Nursing degree to work as a nurse practitioner (though some nurse practitioners who have been in the field for years can still be “grandfathered in” with only an MSN degree).
To enroll in a DNP degree program, you need to have completed a master’s degree in nursing. A few specializations are available on DNP degrees:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Midwifery & Women’s Health
See an interesting video on what’s going on in the nursing profession today.
Nursing “Bridge” Degrees
RN to MSN degrees are for RNs who have not yet completed a nursing bachelor degree program, but who would like to find the quickest path possible to a advanced nursing.
Acceptance requirements vary a great deal from one school to another for RN to MSN Programs. Most schools offering the degree will insist that you have at least two years field experience in nursing and at least an associate’s degree. Other degree programs are designed for nurses who have a bachelor degree in an non-nursing specialty.
An RN to MSN degree can help the RN enter the same fields as any other MSN holder (These programs are also sometimes called simply “BSN to Masters in Nursing” online degrees). Career options can include becoming a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, nurse manager or nurse midwife. A very few schools also over ADN to Masters Programs online that can allow you to make the leap from an associate’s to a post grad degree without going to school for a bachelors degree in between. More on RN to MSN bridge programs here
Here are some nursing career and salary statistics by specialty:
|Nursing Job||Median Salary||Jobs U.S.||Growth Thru 2024|
|Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Practitioners & Nurse Midwives||$107,460||170,400||31%|
|LPNs and Licensed Vocational Nurses||$44,090||719,900||16%|
|Nursing Assistants & Orderlies||$26,590||1,545,200||17%|
Requirements to Apply to Online Nursing Masters Programs
Nurses who want to move into advanced practice or nursing administration generally get a master of science in nursing (MSN) degree. To qualify for this type of postgraduate degree, you generally need to have completed an undergraduate degree in nursing or a field that relates to nursing. In some cases, it’s possible to be admitted to a master’s program in nursing if you are in the process of getting your undergrad nursing degree.
Master degree nursing programs and doctorate degrees are available in many specialties.