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Friday, February 12, 2010

Can I Pursue a Master Degree After My RN to BSN?

Many nurses who are interested in advancing their skills and expanding the scope of their career opportunities often decide to pursue a Masters degree after their RN to BSN has been completed. A Master’s in Nursing (MSN) provides highly developed training for a career in advanced clinical training or research. The type of nursing degree that is chosen significantly impacts the career path and the timeframe in which goals can be achieved. There are many options at the Master’s level, so it is important for students to decide on a focus and which programs are best suited to their needs. Nurses who hold a Master’s degree are called Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs).

They provide healthcare services that have traditionally been under the purview of physicians. After a RN to BSN degree, there are typically four advanced practice areas to choose from. Nurse Practitioners (NP) receive high-level, detailed training in a specialty area. Although they often work in hospitals or long-term care facilities, it is not uncommon for them to open their own practice. They function as clinicians and their duties include diagnosing acute and chronic illnesses, developing treatment plans and interpreting lab results. They are able to prescribe medications and provide the same types of counseling for patients as physicians. A certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) offers many of the same services as an anesthesiologist.

Upon completion of the training and education program, CRNAs are nationally certified. They work closely with surgeons, dentists and anesthesiologists and are responsible for the patient’s care and safety before, during and after medical procedures. Their care duties include a wide range of surgeries, from organ transplant and delivery of babies to complex dental surgery. They perform a physical assessment throughout the procedure to ensure vitals are within normal parameters. CRNA’s discuss the process and any potential side effects with the patient before surgery. A Master’s program after an RN to BSN degree may focus on the Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). They work in operating and emergency rooms, as well as critical care areas focusing on surgical or clinical procedures.

Day to day duties include teaching, research, management and consulting in a variety of areas. A nurse-midwife has received advanced, detailed training that focuses around delivering babies. This includes prenatal and postpartum care. They are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms that indicate a departure from normal delivery conditions. These nurses often stay with the mother throughout the delivery process, from labor pains through their first visit together as mother and child. Family planning, gynecological services and preventative health screenings are part of their daily duties as well. Attaining a Master’s after an RN to BSN degree opens the door to many different specialty areas and career opportunities. Salary levels increase with education level and are commiserate with experience and area of study.

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