If students have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline but want to be a nurse, there is no need to start from scratch. A direct-entry Master of Science in nursing (MSN) degree was designed for people fitting this description. These programs are growing in popularity. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there were only 12 programs in the country back in 1990. By 2010, there were 65 in place with six more being developed. Direct-entry MSN is becoming a popular choice especially for people who want to go into advanced practice specialties such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, or clinical nurse specialist. Graduates also enter careers in education, research, management, and consulting.
Perfect Choice for Career Change Minded
The direct entry Master’s in Nursing program is designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing but have made a decision for a career change to nursing. These types of programs are designed to capitalize upon a student’s broad educational preparation by providing the student with an accelerated, intensely presented nursing-based curriculum that will meet the individual’s stated career goals.
The entire time frame for completion of most direct MSN entry programs is approximately three years. Although admission requirements vary from one school to another, but typically obtaining a GPA of 3.0 while earning a previous bachelor’s degree is desired by most institutions. Other common requirements include submitting letters of reference and being prepared for a pre-admission interview. Additionally, the nature of previous coursework studied as well as any professional work record may also be taken into consideration during the admission process.
First Complete Nursing Requirements
Students enrolled in a Direct MSN program will first complete all necessary nursing requirements while also fulfilling all BSN program objectives in an accelerated period of time – typically 14-18 months depending upon the school chosen. This is the pre-MSN part of the program and, once completed, students move onto a selected course of study designed to gain the necessary knowledge in a specialized area such as acute care, adults, older adults, pediatrics (acute and primary care), clinical nurse leader, health care systems leadership or nurse-midwifery.
Time Need for Full Commitment
The time commitment and curriculum depends on which track is taken. Some classes may be taken online, or a combination of in-class and through the Internet, while others will be offered on evenings or weekends. Clinical rotations are typically very time consuming and completed during daytime working hours—particularly for advanced practice specialties. The first semesters may be spent taking bachelor’s level classes related to nursing such as anatomy and physiology, life sciences, nutrition, or pharmacology. Some programs require these classes are completed prior to admission. Typical MSN core classes include leadership, ethics, health information technology, and nursing theory. Electives are related to your specialty.
After graduation, students will be eligible to take the RN licensing exam. Learn more about this exam at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing . The board of nursing in every state has specific exam requirements and information. According to the AACN, practically all direct-entry MSN graduates pass the exam the first time.
Employers value MSN graduates because of their professionalism, maturity and commitment. Despite a relative lack of RN clinical experience, graduates tend to be motivated to succeed and thus learn their job duties quickly. After a few years of experience in a chosen specialty, nurses with an MSN are ideal candidates for a terminal nursing degree such as a Ph.D. or a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).