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What Kind of Careers Can You Do with an MSN?

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In the healthcare industry, nurses are in high demand across the country. While more and more people are getting associate’s degrees and becoming LPNs, causing a shrinking number of job openings, if you have an advanced degree in nursing, you’ll likely have your pick of jobs in locations across the United States. You can get your bachelor’s degree to become a registered nurse, but many of today’s nurses are increasing their marketability even farther by getting a masters in nursing, or MSN.

As an MSN degree holder, you’ll be qualified for more advanced jobs in your department. In general, jobs for advanced practice nurses fall into four categories:

Nurse Practitioner

The most common nursing job for those with an MSN is the nurse practitioner position. In this position, you’ll perform many of the same tasks as RNs and even LPNs, but you’ll also be able to take on advanced responsibilities. All states allow nurse practitioners to write prescriptions, and in many states, nurse practitioners can even run their own practices without the supervision of doctors. As a nurse practitioner, you can study general medicine, or you can specialize in departments like cardiology, pediatrics, or emergency medicine. Many hospitals are hiring more and more nurse practitioners, since they can take over many of the tasks traditionally only done by doctors.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

A clinical nurse specialist, or CNS, usually specializes in one area of patient care, but unlike a nurse practitioner, this job also focuses on education, research, consulting, and management. Some clinical nurses can write prescriptions, depending on their MSN degree program, and most are highly involved with quality control at their facility. Many nurses who go on to become professors of nursing have worked as a CNS.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Also called a CNM, a certified nurse midwife works exclusively in the prenatal or gynecological departments. As of 2010, all CNMs in the United States are required to have at least a master’s degree, though some complete even more education. In the midwife role, these nurses serve as primary caregivers for women who are expected to have uncomplicated, natural births that aren’t considered high-risk in any way. Many deliver babies in special birthing centers, or even at mothers’ homes, though CNMs can also work in hospitals or at private practices. In all states, CNMs can write prescriptions, and make diagnosis, and in most locations, they’re licensed to provide care to women from puberty to menopause, including non-birth-related gynecological care.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

One of the most lucrative careers for nurses with MSNs is as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, or CNRA. This kind of nurse administers anesthetics when someone needs to undergo surgery. To become a CNRA, you need at least one year of experience as a full-time nurse in an acute care setting with your BSN, and this master’s degree program is the longest option, lasting an additional two to three years. In some states, CNRAs must work under the supervision of a licensed physician when administering anesthetics, but in other states, a CNRA can work independently.

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