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For currently employed or licensed nurses, there are a number of different options to advance your degree and have the opportunity to work to also increase and advance your career. There are a number of specicially designed “bridge” or “transition” programs.
If you do not yet have a license to operate as any nurse, or do not have a nursing degree, get started with this page on how to become a nurse.
If You Have Your RN and an Associate’s Degree
RN to BSN
Up until recently, a lot of registered nurses held only an associate’s degree. These degrees are still some of the most common for nurses working in the field. For nurses at this level, there are a variety of different options for increasing career potential. RN to BSN programs are some of the most preferred programs for nurses at this level. These programs accept individuals with a license in nursing.
These programs build on the foundation of associate level programs to provide for an even more in-depth knowledge of the field of nursing. RN to BSN programs can be found all over the United States. They are available from accredited universities, which is a must-have for returning students. There are even more programs available for nurses seeking a higher degree.
RN to MSN
Some programs even advance associate level graduates directly through a bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree in a shorter time frame than traditional methods. This program, the RN to MSN program, is an ideal fit for those seeking a graduate level education at minimal costs and time. For associate level graduates, these two programs are great options to open up more opportunity through the duration of a career.
At the bachelor’s level, students will learn some of the more scientific focuses of nursing, as well as an introduction to some of the business aspects. Master’s level nursing courses direct students on a management oriented path, since most management level positions are held by master’s degree holders. Regardless of which degree path is chosen, there is ample job opportunity available. The nursing field is one that is well-providing for professionals and full of potential.
If You Have Your RN and a Bachelor’s Degree
Being a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree is quite an accomplishment. This level of degree has become one of the most popular throughout the country, making job opportunities slightly less prominent than they once were. The BLS anticipates a growth in jobs over the next decade, but for nurses in the field currently, there are more options for advancing a career in a shorter time-frame.
The first option would be to advance to the next degree tier – the master’s degree. An MSN degree can be obtained through standalone MSN programs, or through a BSN to MSN or RN to MSN. The Master’s of Science in Nursing degree focuses more on employee management as well as some of the other business-oriented aspects of nursing. These programs are available in every state – both online and in the classroom. These courses build on existing knowledge and test the independent learning skills of students.
In a master’s degree program, students are given more independent coursework, allowing them to truly test their knowledge of the information at hand. Registered nurses wanting to move even further can enroll in advance practice registered nursing programs or doctoral programs. These programs go well beyond the undergraduate level and provide education either for higher tier employee management positions or practicing fields.
The curriculum in these fields are specific to their specialties, providing dense coursework in the theory and practice of higher degree nursing. Clinical requirements are expected to be completed prior to licensure at the higher level, which is typically completed during or after educational requirements.
If You Have Your BSN
Having a bachelor’s degree means that the majority of the education work has been completed. Choosing which path to take next truly depends on what desires an individual has for his or her future. For those wishing to work in higher levels in private practices and clinical environments, a master’s degree program in nursing or a doctor degree in nursing may be ideal.
BSN to MSN
A higher degree means more job opportunities and better salaries overall. Students will find that they are given more independence in higher degree programs, allowing them to truly expose their knowledge of the field of nursing. From in-depth research projects to field training, students will be expected to learn each and every aspect of their degree specialty. These programs include courses in management and the advanced fundamentals in nursing.
While in a graduate degree program, students are expected to take part in research projects and clinical training that will test their ability to work effectively and correctly. These programs project an increase in pay and greater employment possibilities for those willing to take the extra step. Both of these higher degree options require licensure testing, which will then allow professionals to work with patients in the field.
APRN Programs: CNS, Midwife, Nurse Practitioner
Nurses wishing to move into a specific specialty such as becoming a midwife, clinical nursing specialist, or nurse practitioner can obtain an advanced practicing registered nursing certification after an appropriate bachelor’s program. This program is designated for individuals looking to become highly specialized professionals and each has curriculum specific to their path.
Coursework in a midwife program will differ greatly from a program for a nurse practitioner, so upcoming students should research the specific course requirements for their desired major prior to enrolling. Each of these specializations are highly demanded fields that are growing each year.
Students in these programs are expected to take part in extensive clinical training prior to practice in the field. After graduation, there are unending possibilities with this high level of certification. Nurse practitioners can work in clinical or private settings, providing direct care to individuals. These specialists are licensed to diagnose and treat illnesses as well as prescribe medications. Depending on the program, these programs can run 2-4 years post bachelor’s.
List of Popular Nursing Specialties:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Family Nurse Practitioner
- Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner
- Adult Gerongology
- Nurse Educator
- Nursing Administration
- Health Informatics
- View all nursing specialties >>
Doctorate of Nursing Practice
Doctoral degrees in nursing contribute greatly to the field of nursing as a whole. While doctoral graduates can work in higher positions and managing employees, they can also work specifically in research-oriented positions. The level of degree holds high prestige in the nursing field and provides a wealth of opportunity for its graduates.
This is a highly research-focused field of study that includes coursework in evidence-based practice, systems leadership, and quality performance. Interested students can find doctoral programs in every state. Accreditation is necessary to ensure that a degree program is of the best quality and will provide for licensure in the future.
This program may also require a residency or clinical training prior to licensure depending on the educational institution’s requirements.