Obtaining an RN to MSN Degree Opens Many Doors

Savvy RNs seeking to advance professional careers will find many different areas for rewarding employment once completing an accredited RN to MSN program that can include:

  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Educator
  • Clinical Nurse Leader

  • Become a Nurse Practitioner

    Obtaining a MSN degree will provide a vast array of employment opportunities including specialty areas such as a nurse practitioner who act quite like primary care physicians. NPs can practice independently in many states, and are allowed to prescribe medications in all of them. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating a broad variety of health issues, and can select certain populations as a special focus of their practice (children, the adults, the elderly, etc.). They may also select sub-specialty areas such as Neurology, Occupational Health, or Sports Medicine. NPs practice in a variety of settings, but one type that is becoming more prevalent is the retail clinic. These clinics are embedded in drug stores, grocery stores, or other chain stores, staffed entirely by nurse practitioners (no physicians). Researchers are predicting dramatic growth over the next five years in the number of locations offering this kind of care.
    Nurses can find more information about this role on the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) website. According to the AANP, more than 6,000 new Nurse Practitioners are prepared each year across the country, and the average salary of a Nurse Practitioner hovers around $90,000.

    What Does A Certified Nurse-Midwife/CNM Actually Do?
    The Nurse-Midwife profession has, in some ways, a longer history than perhaps any other role in the entire medical field. Midwives have been helping women to prepare for and go through labor and childbirth since the early days of human history. Of course, these have typically been what the ACNM would call “traditional birth attendants,” without formal medical training. RNs will find the best first step toward becoming a Certified Nurse-Midwife is to attend a nationally accredited Masters program that offers a CNM track. Make sure that the program is accredited by the ACNM. And, as always, make sure to check with the Board of Nursing in the state where you intend to practice, for any state specific requirements. The median expected salary for a typical Certified Nurse Midwife in the United States is $91,978.

    What Does A Clinical Nurse Specialist/CNS Actually Do?
    There are a lot of similarities between the CNS and NP specialties in terms of populations and sub-specialties. However, the Clinical Nurse Specialist often works in a hospital setting, providing expert care and mentoring other staff members, whereas Nurse Practitioners frequently work outside of the hospital, in more generalist roles.
    You can find more information about this role on the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) website. Interestingly, according to the NACNS, over 14,000 nurses are certified as both Nurse Practitioners and Clinical Nurse Specialists. A number of the program tracks below prepare students for both – make sure to ask the school whether this is the case or whether you have to choose between the two of them. The average salary of a Clinical Nurse Specialist is $89,087.

    The Role of a Nurse Anesthetist
    For patients, anesthesia offers freedom from pain and facilitates medical treatments from the most common to the life-saving. Each year, more than 26 million people in the United States undergo medical procedures requiring anesthesia. In many of these cases, the anesthesia is administered by a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA). Nurse anesthetists were among the first providers of anesthesia and have been administering it for more than 100 years. As anesthesia specialists, CRNAs provide anesthesia care for patients before, during and after surgical and obstetrical procedures. They administer medications to keep patients asleep or pain-free during surgery and constantly monitor every important function of the patient’s body. Salaries exceed most nursing specialties, depending on location and experience. Median annual base salary for full-time nurse anesthetists is approximately $105,000

    What Does A Nurse Educator Actually Do?

    The Nurse Educator is responsible for the training and education of nurses, in a number of different settings (universities, hospitals, and others). You could have the opportunity to teach college freshmen in entry level programs, nurses returning to school for advanced degrees, or working nurses in a hospital/health care facility who are interested in expanding their skills. Median annual base salary for a full-time nurse educator is approximately $80,000.

    The Choice for Clinical Nurse Leader

    The Clinical Nurse Leader role has been the subject of much discussion since its creation by the AACN. The primary focus of the role is on managing care plans and care delivery to improve patient outcomes. There is less emphasis on directly providing primary care. The average salary of a clinical nurse leader is about $55,000 to $60,000.
    You can find more information about this role on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) website.

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