Advanced Nursing Degrees Beyond a BSN

Advanced Nursing Degrees Beyond a BSN

Mar 14, 2015 | 10:00 am

It’s becoming more common for Registered Nurses (RNs) to earn a bachelor’s degree and for employers to prefer hiring them, especially since the Institute of Medicine called for 80 percent of nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020. And so with this highly trained RN workforce growing, many will seek out advanced nursing degrees to deepen their knowledge and advance their careers.

Two main options exist, and with the growing need for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs), including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists and certified nurse midwives, we should continue to see more advanced nursing degrees popping up to fill the need.

Advanced Nursing Degree: Master’s Level

The Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) requires two extra years of coursework after the completion of a BSN. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are currently more than 300 accredited master’s degree nursing programs out there, including the following:

•Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N)
•Master of Nursing (M.N.)
•Master of Science (M.S.) with a nursing major
•Master of Arts (M.A.) with a nursing major

Accelerated nursing programs are another option for earning a master’s degree in nursing. For students with a non-nursing bachelor’s or master’s degree, accelerated programs let students apply their education and experience toward a direct-entry master’s degree. For RNs who hold an associate degree or diploma and know which medical specialty they want to pursue, nurses can apply for accelerated programs with a combined bachelor’s degree and master’s degree.

The Doctor of Nursing Degree

This is the highest of the advanced nursing degrees available, and nurses can use this education to enter fields of research or further clinical practice, depending on which one they choose. Some advanced nursing programs include the following degree types:

•Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
•Doctor of Nursing Science (D.N.S. or D.N.Sc)
•Doctor of Science in Nursing (D.S.N.)

While research-focused nursing doctorates prepare nurses for research roles that can further the field of nursing science, the D.N.P. path focuses on quality improvement, education in evidence-based practice, implementing the science developed by nurse researchers and systems leadership, notes the AACN.

With the face of healthcare changing, the need for nurses to take on more of the roles of physicians increases. In fact, the AACN refers to a study that shows how the United States could save over $8 billion annually by using APRNs appropriately in the place of a physician.

Combine the growing need for higher educated nurses and a great starting salary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics mentions median annual salaries range between $60,000 and $90,000 depending on the advanced practice nursing specialty. It’s no wonder more nurses than ever before are feeling encouraged to take their education to the next level with advanced nursing degrees.