Advancing Nursing Practice With RN to MSN Programs

RN to MSN programs are attractive to nurses because they allow them to gain an MSN degree while working. The MSN can open doors for them later to advance in their careers. Those with graduate education are the ones considered for higher positions in clinical research, nursing administration, and academia.

These programs are also called RN to MSN “bridge,” or “pathway” programs. They follow the “ladder approach” in nursing education where lower degrees can be upgraded to higher ones by completing additional course work and training hours.

The RN to MSN programs can be generally defined as programs where diploma, ADN or BSN-educated registered nurses can transfer credits to gain an MSN degree. However, schools use the same term to cater to different students. It is not uncommon for them to have different pathways to achieve the coveted master of science in nursing (MSN) degree.

For example, some schools with RN to MSN nursing programs are geared towards RNs with diplomas or ADNs only who want to earn their MSN. Others require another non-nursing related degree on top of a diploma or ADN to be accepted. Still others receive only BSN-educated registered nurses who want to get an advanced degree. The last type therefore makes it practically the same as MSN programs, but some schools just prefer to name them RN to MSN programs. It behooves nurses to know what is most applicable to them.

Under the program, those with a diploma and ADN degrees should attend classes that are included in a regular BSN curriculum and complete them before they are allowed to proceed to the main MSN core
subjects. Therefore, the baccalaureate component serves as a bridge to graduate education.

Some schools award both the BSN and MSN at the end of the course, while others only give the MSN and not the BSN. Again, proper inquiries to the prospective school must be done by applicants to clarify what is most suited to them.

Most programs typically take 3 years, a relatively long time to complete because of the sheer number of additional courses to take and the busy work schedule of nurses. Traditional, online, or a combination of these two modes are available to RNs. As in most distance learning programs, an independent, goal-directed attitude must be adopted by the students to successfully complete the program.

The nurse selects what nursing area or specialization he or she wants to focus on when he or she reaches the MSN part of the program. Medical-surgical nursing, psychiatric nursing, nursing administration,
and clinical research are just some of the areas of concentration that a nurse can pick.

The number of RN to MSN nursing programs in the United States have been increasing annually, reflecting the growing demand for MSNs that will meet the challenges of future healthcare. These programs tap into the wealth of experience of working registered nurses who are motivated to elevate patient care and the nursing profession.

Registered nurses with graduate education would prove to be valuable clinicians, patient advocates, and resource experts in the nursing arena in the future, confident in their ability to apply their knowledge and experience perfected by RN to MSN programs.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jennifer Knudson May 11, 2011 at 7:18 pm

Hi I am interested in the ADN to MSN program and would like to follow the FNP track due to that being my ultimate goal is to be a FNP, so I really hope there is a school out there that can help me achieve that goal. Thanks Jennifer


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