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MSN – Nurse Practitioner
At a Glance
When getting a master of science in nursing, there are four educational paths from which to choose — nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, certified registered nurse anesthetist, and certified nurse midwife. Many nurses interested in an MSN decide to become nurse practitioners, as this is one of the most versatile educational routes.
Working as a nurse practitioner is similar to the work nurses already do as an RN, but a MSN degree teaches students advanced diagnostic and treatment skills so they prepare to deal with more situations in a healthcare facility. In many cases, patients see a nurse practitioner first, rather than seeing a doctor, and nurses are responsible for knowing if the problem is minor enough for them to treat or if a doctor or specialist is needed. The level at which nurses allowed to treat patients varies from state to state, but in some locations, they can even choose to open their own medical practice if you want.
As a nurse practitioner, students also often qualify for supervisory roles, so courses prepare them to lead teams of other nurses, nursing aids, and volunteers. In addition, students can choose to specialize in one area of medicine, learning more about a certain part of the body (like the cardiovascular system) or a certain age group (like gerontology). Other specializations include nursing education, psychiatric nursing, and health administration. The specialization students choose determines the exact courses they take as part of their MSN program, but no matter where they go to school, getting their degree means that they qualify for better jobs in the nursing field.