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Masters in Nursing Career Options
At a Glance
Are you curious about an advanced career in nursing? Then you might want to decide on a specialty or pursue a career in research. Some advanced nursing students also take on joint degrees in related fields such as business administration or public health to move into administrative positions upon graduation with a master’s degree in nursing.
Requirements for entering a master’s degree program in nursing often include a BSN from an accredited nursing school, an RN license and minimum GPA (grade point average) scores. Also, many graduate schools for nursing may prefer a student who has had some work experience in clinical nursing. Your past experiences and your commitment to a specialty can help greatly in deciding your future path.
The RN with an advanced degree often moves into an administrative position or into research. The business side of health care often needs an experienced and well-trained nurse, possibly one with a dual MSN/MBA degree, to help equip health care teams to manage ambulatory, acute, home-based, and chronic care. Employers, including hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and managed care organizations, among others, need RNs with advanced degrees for health planning and development, marketing, consulting, policy development, and quality assurance. Other nurses work as college and university faculty or conduct research.
According to the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing), advanced practice nurses (APNs) include the following four categories of clinicians:
Nurse Practitioners (NP), or nurses who can conduct many of the tasks that doctors historically have performed. Many NPs work in pediatrics, family health, women’s health, and other specialties, and some have private practices. Nurse practitioners can prescribe medications in all states, while 25 states have given NPs authority to practice independently without physician collaboration or supervision.
Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS), or nurses who can provide acute care and mental health services as well as develop quality assurance procedures and serve as educators and consultants.
Certified Nurse-Midwives (CNM) are nurses who provide prenatal and gynecological care to normal healthy women.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CNRA), a nurse who administers anesthetics to patients in operating or emergency rooms.
Many RNs pursue additional education to become researchers as well. These nurses usually study ways to improve nursing methods and to evaluate patterns of patient care and more. Psychiatrist nurse practitioners often perform many advanced medical functions that psychiatrists were permitted to do.
More sophisticated procedures, once performed only in hospitals, are being performed in physicians’ offices and in outpatient care centers, such as freestanding ambulatory surgical and emergency centers. Accordingly, employment is expected to grow quickly in these places as health care in general expands. This movement provides an opportunity for nurses with advanced degrees, especially those nurses who can perform duties that doctors performed in the past.
New treatments and new ways of treating patients, new medicines and new procedures provide breakthroughs in medical science. A nurse with an advanced degree can stay abreast of new developments with further education and with a top-level job. Although all nurses take continuing education courses on a regular basis, your master’s degree can carry you further than you dared dream with your BSN.