As the health care industry continues to evolve, professionals in the field of nursing will be expected to keep up with changes. In fact, a recent report from the Institute of Medicine urged nurses to pursue higher levels of education. For many caregivers, this means enrolling in graduate nursing programs.
There are multiple graduate programs designed for nurses, each of which is tailored to help professionals with varying career goals. Here are a few of the more popular options:
At the master's level
If registered nurses wish to continue their education beyond the undergraduate level, they can pursue either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Master of Nursing. These advanced degrees typically take two years to complete, but can be finished in less time depending on the program.
After earning an MSN, individuals may be able to assume managerial roles in the health care sector, such as nurse administrator or chief of nursing. In addition, graduates of MSN programs could go on to become nurse practitioners, certified clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse anesthetists or certified nurse midwives.
At the doctoral level
Beyond the master's level, individuals can pursue the Doctor of Nursing Practice. This terminal professional degree is designed to help nurses acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to become primary care providers. For those who have their sights set on an advanced nursing practice career, this credential will be essential. As of 2015, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (ACCN) made the decision to move the level of preparation necessary for advanced nursing practice from the master's level to that of doctorate.
Then, there is the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing, which can help individuals who want to train the next generation of nurses. This credential is designed for those looking to devote their life to the research and development of new nursing science.
Individuals who have a desire to work within the nursing sector are fortunate, as there is a need for new professionals in this field. This is especially true of those who wish to prepare tomorrow's caregivers as nurse educators.
The nation currently faces a significant nursing faculty shortage, which is affecting admission rates at nursing schools. Based on data from the AACN, 13,198 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing programs at the master's level in 2011. The same was true of 1,156 qualified nursing applicants at the doctoral level.
With the right knowledge and skills, however, graduates of doctoral nursing programs can help to make this change as there will be enough faculty available to teach qualified nursing school applicants.
Find the right nursing programs
No matter which advanced nursing degree individuals have an interest in pursuing, it may be time for them to start researching potential nursing programs. GraduateGuide.com features a search engine that can help prospective students identify nursing programs that match their specific preferences and prepare them for the careers they desire.