Focusing Nursing Practice With Masters in Nursing Programs

Masters in Nursing Programs provide the chance for registered nurses to focus on a particular area of nursing practice. Nurses are encouraged to develop their expertise in a specialization both for professional rewards and better patient care delivery.

The nursing shortage has created a demand for highly-specialized nurses who are equipped to meet the growing challenges in nursing in the coming years. Masters in nursing programs make it possible for nurses to realize that goal.

There are over 2,000 masters of science in nursing (MSN) programs available in the United States. Most programs can be finished within 24 months. General requirements for admission include minimum GPA and GRE scores, proof of nursing experience, and a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Some programs, such as the RN to MSN bridge program, allow diploma and ADN-educated RN’s to enroll.

There are myriad program types being offered. They are known by different names depending on the educational institution and the overall goal of the programs. The first kind is the RN to MSN program as described above. This is sometimes called the RN to MSN bridge, or pathway, program. Nurses with ADN degrees and diplomas can work toward their MSN by enrolling in this program.

A second type is called Master of Arts in Nursing (MA), which is offered by only a few colleges and universities in the United States.

The third type is the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Master of Nursing (MAN). This is by far the most common and most numerous of all programs. A BSN degree is mandatory for entry.

The masters in nursing programs are structured by tracks or specialties. Students choose which patient population they wish to focus on. Typical tracks correspond to nursing areas such as adult health, pediatric, psychiatric, critical health, and nursing administration.

Many MSN programs are offered to nurses who wish to become Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). They study in specific advanced nursing practice areas namely: Nurse Practitioner (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). These specialties reflect the evolution of nursing practice towards higher clinical competence. Certification by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for each specialty is required after completion of the graduate program.

The Accelerated MSN, also called Direct or Special Entry MSN, is a distinct program for people with non-nursing backgrounds who are not RNs but wish to gain both their BSN and MSN degrees. Liberal arts subjects earned from the non-nursing degrees are credited to shorten the duration of study. Like the accelerated BSN, this program has allowed the nursing shortage to be alleviated by creating skilled nurses in a relatively short amount of time.

An MSN degree can also be offered as Dual Degrees such as MSN/MBA or MSN/MPH. In this type, another masters program like a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Public Health (MPH) is combined with the MSN. This is chosen by nurses who want to occupy administrative or leadership positions in health care facilities or public health agencies.

Nurses who are taking MSN courses are increasing in number across the country. This is a positive sign for the nursing profession and the public it serves. It shows that nurses are committed to continuously improve their practice by completing masters in nursing programs.

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