You’re enjoying your career as a nurse, but you’re also thinking about the future. Maybe you feel confident in your skills and feel ready to take on a bigger role in nursing leadership and management. Perhaps you are developing an interest in a certain area of specialization and need to add to your skill set so you can take the next step in your nursing career.
Sounds like you might be ready to pursue your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).
There Are Many Reasons to Pursue the RN to MSN Career Path
There are a variety of reasons why nursing professionals choose to pursue an MSN degree. Among them:
Opportunities for Nursing Leadership and Independent Work
MSN’s are highly trained health care professionals whose training has given them the skills necessary to take on leadership roles in many different types of care settings. An MSN comes with an increase in the variety of professional opportunities available in nursing and is necessary for many advanced career roles in research, teaching, administration, or legal consultation.
Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) with an MSN may provide primary care services independently, as part of a health care team, or in consultation with a physician. APRNs are trained to order, perform and interpret many diagnostic tests such as x-rays and a variety of lab tests; they are able to diagnose conditions, write prescriptions, and make referrals to specialists a patient might need. APRNs also work in preventive health care, providing guidance and assistance in disease prevention and helping patients maintain a healthy life.
It’s a Rapidly Growing Field
Nursing is a hot career in general, but advanced practice nursing is even more so. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that between 2018-2028 the demand for APRNs such as nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and certified nurse midwives will grow by 26%, much faster than other occupations. (The DOL projects 35% job growth in California for nurse practitioners through 2026 with 1,200 projected job openings annually.)
Why the rapid growth? The BLS cites the increased emphasis on preventive care and an overall aging population as reasons for the increased need for these health care professionals. In many areas, growth is spurred also by a burgeoning need to provide health care services to underserved populations, especially in rural areas where there is a growing shortage of health care providers.
For most nursing professionals, work is more than just about money, their nursing career is a true vocation. But, let’s face it, salary potential in any field is important. With an MSN, your earning power grows. According to the BLS, the median pay for advanced practice registered nurses is $113,930 nationally. In California, pay rates may be higher; for instance, according to the Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop, nurse practitioners in California earn a median yearly wage of $126,890; nurse anesthetists in the state have a median yearly wage of $197,640 and a 29% job growth projected through 2026.
You Want to Specialize
If you want to specialize in a certain area of nursing, an MSN is a must. For instance, if you want to pursue a career as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, pediatric nurse practitioner, an acute care nurse practitioner, a gastroenterology nurse practitioner, a certified nurse anesthetist, a clinical nurse specialist or a certified nurse midwife, to name just a few, you will need to get your MSN.
There may be even other nursing areas of specialization you have not thought about that may be interesting options. For instance, if you have an interest in technology and a head for data, nursing informatics, an area of specialization that combines nursing science and information management, technology and analysis might be an interesting way to apply your MSN.
The RN to MSN Pathway at National
National’s Master of Science in Nursing program is designed to prepare RNs to take a leadership role in their chosen area of specialization. With its flexible program format —100% online coursework and monthly start four-week classes — it’s the perfect option for working professionals who want to be able to set their own pace for degree completion. All classes are taken online and supplemented with four campus visits where students engage in simulated activities working with actual patients and performing invasive procedures. The program practicum is completed in a faculty-approved clinical setting where students can hone their practical skills and learn from other highly-experienced nursing professionals.
The MSN program focuses on preparing advanced practice nursing professionals to provide evidence-based, patient-centered health care and to use advanced practice skills to organize different facets of the health care delivery process. Core courses go in-depth into advanced practice topics such as biomedical statistics, theory in advanced practice nursing, health policy and finance, and project management. In addition, students complete extensive training and coursework in one of four tracks for specialization, including:
- Specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
- Specialization in Nursing Administration
- Specialization in Nursing Informatics
- Specialization in Psychiatric Mental Health Practitioner – Lifespan (PMHNP)
National’s Master of Science in Nursing program meets all standards for graduate education for advanced practice nursing as determined by the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
For more information about the MSN degree and the various program tracks please visit our program page.