A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is an advanced-level, postgraduate education option for nurses who wish to further their education. Unlike the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, the master’s degree allows for specialization in an area of personal interest. MSN graduates have career options to choose from like healthcare informatics, nurse education, and health care or nursing leadership.
Obtaining an MSN degree typically requires two additional years of coursework. The good news is that many reputable academic institutions offer programs with flexible, online instruction from nursing leaders. These programs fit into students’ busy lifestyles and work schedules, so they can work full time while earning their degrees.
The MSN Degree at Norwich University
There are several factors to consider when looking at postgraduate educational providers. These include the reputation of the academic institution, the curriculum, the faculty, and the possible areas of specialization. When choosing a higher education institution and its programs, students should also consider the program’s format and instructional methods to evaluate how well the program fits into their lifestyle and meets their needs. The MSN degree at Norwich University offers convenience and flexibility, enabling students to pursue the career path that appeals to them.
The Norwich University MSN degree offers three areas of specialization:
- Nursing Informatics: Students who complete this degree specialization may qualify to sit for the Informatics Nursing Certificate Exam from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
- Healthcare Systems Leadership: This concentration has been designed to help students prepare for leadership positions in the healthcare field.
- Nursing Education: Once they complete this concentration, Norwich University students may become eligible to take the National League for Nursing (NLN) Nurse Educator Certification Exam.
Norwich gives students the opportunity to complete the MSN program online and at their own pace. Depending on individual preferences and schedules, completion of the program is possible in as few as 18 months.
The Importance of MSN Degrees in Today’s Health Care Environment
Our nation is experiencing serious changes to its demographic makeup. Overall, the population is growing older. An aging population means more people are consuming health care services and are at risk for chronic medical conditions. This increases the need for highly qualified caregivers as well as healthcare leadership professionals to fill key roles.
MSN degrees, such as Norwich University’s, teach valuable skills that are needed to address contemporary medical problems. With a Master of Science in Nursing degree, graduates may:
- Pursue an advanced leadership role, shaping health care services for generations to come
- Modify policies to improve the service and operational effectiveness of healthcare facilities
- Select and implement technological solutions to boost healthcare efficiency and improve patient outcomes
- Educate future healthcare professionals
Skills Acquired Through an MSN
When seeking to understand the purpose of an MSN degree, it is crucial to look at the skills students may acquire. Essential competencies include:
- A comprehensive understanding of the health care system, its strengths, and the crucial improvements that will need to be addressed by educators, nurse informatics professionals, administrators, and leaders
- Communication skills that leaders need to motivate, stimulate, and inform the delivery of high-quality health care services
- Data analysis
- Policy development and implementation
- Extensive problem solving and critical thinking which is crucial in the fast-paced, ever-evolving healthcare environment
- Medical and clinical research and their impact on science-based healthcare improvement
- Evidence-based practice
- Management skills
Coursework and the Importance of Academic Knowledge in Career Preparation
MSN programs feature an array of core courses, as well as classes aimed at enabling students to specialize in an area of preference. A few examples of MSN specialization courses include:
- Advanced Pharmacology: The knowledge of different areas of pharmaceutical medicine is very important, especially when applied to the development of personalized patient treatment plans. The principles of safe pharmacological products are explored in-depth.
- Advanced Health Assessment: Basic health assessment is a critical part of nursing education. This course focuses on the analysis of patient health data to help expand nursing practices.
- Using Informatics to Improve Nursing Practice: This course focuses on the effective use of data and technology in healthcare environments and in improving the practice of nursing. The role of informatics in disease prevention and healthcare monitoring is also touched upon.
- Leadership in Healthcare Organizations: Focusing on the organizational science of finance, human resources, and strategic planning, this course prepares students to lead healthcare organizations in the modern world. Students learn to address financial and social challenges to positively impact healthcare delivery.
Career Opportunities, Outlook, and Salary Information
You may wonder, “what is an MSN graduate’s career outlook?” These masters-prepared nurses have many employment opportunities: health coach, academic nurse writer, nurse consultant, forensic nurse consultant, nurse educator, nursing researcher, health system leadership professional—these are just a few of the possible career choices.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the career outlook for MSN degree holders is excellent. Nurse executives, for example, are projected to see a growth in employment of 8 percent between 2016 and 2026. The current average salary for nurse executives can range between $86,516 and $67,532 per year. Research nurses are expected to benefit from the same growth rate in employment opportunities, and currently, earn an average salary of $90,000. The average salary for an informatics nurse is $75,518 per year; for nurse educators, the average salary is $77,000 per year; and for nurse administrators, the median income is $82,109 per year.
Graduates of the Norwich MSN program also found careers as surgical nurse managers, in risk management, as compliance officers, and as health care policy experts or consultants. In a 2016 survey of Norwich MSN graduates, more than 80 percent of respondents reported they had been offered a leadership position in their current organization. More than 90 percent of respondents believed that their Norwich MSN degree helped them stand out as healthcare job candidates. With the ongoing changes in the healthcare industry, many organizations are searching for nurse executives, nursing informatics specialists, and nurse educators who have clinical and operational experience. Individuals that are equipped with a master’s degree can prepare themselves for a lucrative and fulfilling career.
Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their workplaces and communities.
Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Nursing program helps students hone their knowledge and skills to assume positions in nursing informatics, healthcare systems leadership, or nursing education. The program aims to develop students who could take a role in shaping health policy, in educating other nurses and health care professionals, and in providing advanced care to their patients. Norwich’s online nursing program coursework has been developed based on guidelines by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, and the program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Healthcare Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Nurse Administrator Salary, Payscale.com
Informatics Nurse Salary, Payscale.com
Nurse Executive Salary, Payscale.com