The vast majority of people become an RN (Registered Nurse) by completing a bachelor’s degree (the BSN), or, even more commonly, an associate’s degree (the ADN). However, many want to move on to earn a master’s degree (the MSN), which will require additional years of study. Plus, those who have completed the ADN often feel like they have to do the BSN first but they do not. They can choose to complete an RN to MSN bridge program.
The BSN degree is now classed as the minimal education requirement for someone to become a nurse. In fact, the ADN is being phased. So if you currently hold an ADN, going to college may be a good idea. And as long as you are going back to college, then opting for the MSN degree may be the better solution. Those who want to pursue an RN to MSN can enroll in the bridge program, which takes around three years to complete. At the start of the program, they cover some of the topics seen during the BSN program, but in an accelerated way. The rest of the degree program is at graduate level, preparing for the MSN.
- The MSN degree enables you to rapidly enter more advanced levels of nursing. This is subdivided into various specializations such as critical care nurse, certified nurse midwife, gerontological nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, family nurse practitioner, nurse researcher, nurse educator, psychiatric nurse practitioner, and pain management
- You will have a far greater number of career choices available to you, as you will have more advanced knowledge. For instance, you can become a nurse practitioner, a clinical nurse specialist, a nurse midwife, a nurse educator, a nursing informatics analyst, or a nurse researcher.
- You will take part in a research-based degree, teaching you not just the concepts of clinical nursing, but also of healthcare management. This means you will come out having leadership and interpersonal skills, as well as advanced knowledge. These would come in handy if you are planning to take on a management position, such as nurse supervisor, chief nursing officer, nursing director, and more.
- You can take part in various specialized courses to ensure your degree develops you into the specialized nurse you want to become. Broadly speaking, you have four options available to you, being Nurse Practitioner (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), or Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM). Within the NP and CNS concentrations, further sub-specializations are also available.
- You can work and learn at the same time, although this does depend on the college or university where you will enroll. Practical experiences are included as standard in most educational institutions.
- You can become certified at the end of your degree program.
- You can choose to move outside of clinical nursing, and choose instead nursing education or nursing administration.
- You can decide to continue to study and pursue a doctorate degree in nursing.
- Your earning potential will be greatly increased. While most people become nurses because they have a passion for making a difference to the lives of people, the fact that they earn a lot is certainly beneficial. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earned an average annual salary of $67,490 in May 2015. Nurse practitioners, meanwhile, had average annual earnings of $104,740.
- You can complete RN to MSN programs online. In some schools, they may still require you to attend actual classes but in some institutions, everything can be accomplished online.
- It takes much less time to complete the RN to MSN bridge program (three years), than to complete the BSN degree (four years) first and then followed by the MSN degree (two years). The added benefit of this is that the overall cost of becoming an advanced practice nurse is also greatly reduced, both in terms of payments for tuition fees and materials, and in terms of lost earnings as a result of having to go to school.
- Because there is such a focus on improving the quality of the nursing workforce, more and more schools now offer the RN to MSN bridge program. Many of the schools offer no waiting lists, do not require a GMAT/GRE examination, and offer flexible learning formats. Additionally, financial aid is generally available. Just make sure that your degree program is fully accredited so that you will not have any problems when you apply for certain positions.
The RN to MSN bridge program is attractive to three kinds of people First, those who come from a background other than nursing and already have quite some career experience, meaning they don’t want to start at entry level. Second, those who have an RN license but at associate’s degree level and want to fast track their career. Third, those who have completed the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) degree and want to fast track their career.
It should be noted that the world of healthcare, both in terms of clinical delivery and in terms of management, is changing rapidly. The Affordable Care Act has only recently been implemented, and President Donald Trump has already started the process of repealing it, which means there will be an even greater demand for those who have the management skills to deal with significant changes. Added to this the overall commitment of improving the educational standards of the nursing workforce, and it quickly becomes clear just how beneficial it is to complete an RN to MSN bridge program.
- Your Nursing Career: A Look at the Facts. (2016, Nov.) Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/students/your-nursing-career/facts
- Degree Completion Programs for Registered Nurses: RN to Master’s Degree and RN to Baccalaureate Programs. (2015, Mar. 16). Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/degree-completion-programs
- Kathleen Dracup. Master’s Nursing Programs. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/education-resources/msn-article
- Registered Nurses – Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2015. (2016, Mar. 30). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/oes/CURRENT/oes291141.htm
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm