How to Transition Your RN to MSN Degree

As an RN with a Diploma of Nursing or an associate’s degree, you have the skills and experience to know about the job opportunities in the field of nursing. And you also likely know that if you want to earn the highest income and enjoy the most rewarding work, you should think about earning your master’s degree in nursing (MSN). In most RN to MSN programs, you can obtain your master’s degree without getting your bachelor’s degree separately; you will cover the BSN material in the beginning of the MSN program.

It is wise to set your sights on a MSN degree in the long run because having a graduate degree is essential for the top jobs in the field. When you eventually get your master’s degree, you will be able to earn much more money in many advanced nursing practice roles. These jobs have soaring demand, with jobs expected to increase by 31% by 2024.

You also will make more money, with a median annual wage of $67,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for nurses with a bachelor’s degree, not to mention salaries of $80,000 and above for nurses with an MSN. On the other hand, median nursing salaries as an RN are approximately $35,000-$45,000 per year.

Other Reasons to Do RN to MSN Degree Transition

Another major reason to consider going to graduate school in nursing is that earning an advanced degree will make you a much better and more educated nurse.

Two of the most respected bodies in nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (ACEN), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), have found that RN holders who earn their BSN and MSN will provide a better standard of care.

Bachelor’s degree and master’s degree holders also have a more specialized nursing education and have a better understanding of the most pressing public health matters. Hiring surveys also show that most employers in healthcare want their nurses to have an advanced education – at least a BSN and later an MSN for the best nursing roles.

Also consider these facts:

  • Most healthcare providers want their employees to have higher education so they can provide the most efficient primary and acute care. There is a strong focus on the bottom line with hospitals, and providing the best results at the best price is critical.
  • The number of nurse practitioners with an MSN degree has doubled since 2012, and that number will continue to skyrocket.
  • Demand for MSN holders is very strong in all areas of advanced practice nursing, especially nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives.

MSN Holders Have a Better Nursing Education

Nurses with a diploma or an associate’s degree can do many of the tasks of better educated RNs. But RNs with an MSN have a much larger and more specialized skill set to do better patient assessments. They also have a much better understanding of best quality practices and efficient healthcare interventions.

Coursework for MSN degrees generally focuses on advanced nursing theory, research, management and leadership, clinical practice and the social and physical sciences.

Become An Advanced Practice Registered Nurse

Obtaining your MSN will allow you to join the ranks of APRNs and enjoy the most job demand and highest salaries in the nursing field:

  • Nurse practitioner: Serve as primary and speciality care providers, doing many of the same jobs as doctors. Usually they work under physicians but in some states, they can work independently in their own offices.
  • Certified nurse midwife: Provide specialized care to women and babies. Perform gynecological exams, family planning and prenatal care.
  • Certified nurse anesthetist: Provide anesthesia services and related care before, during and after all types of surgical procedures.
  • Nurse educator/administrator: Provide nursing education to aspiring nurses, or be responsible for the administration and operations of a large healthcare facility.

Nursing Subspecialities as a Nurse Practitioner

One of the major benefits of earning an MSN and becoming a nurse practitioner is that you can specialize in certain types of patients and situations that interest you the most:

  • Women’s health
  • Adult gerontology
  • Pediatrics
  • Family medicine
  • Neonatal
  • Psychiatric care
  • Emergency care
  • Acute care

Which area you wish to specialize in depends upon the types of patients you prefer, the medical problems you prefer to treat, and the type of environment in which you want to work.

Licensing and Certification for RN to MSN Transition

After you graduate from your MSN program and take your national certification examination as an advanced practice nurse, you have the option of gaining further certification in many different areas as a nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.

Online RN to MSN Options Available

If you have your RN license and 135 quarter hours of undergraduate work, you can earn your MSN in just two years through an online RN to MSN program. This is probably the most affordable and direct path to an MSN degree without earning a BSN first.

These programs often offer many interesting nursing speciality tracks with the MSN degree:

  • Care Coordination
  • Nursing Education
  • Nursing Informatics
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Administration

Courses that you will take include:

  • Introduction to Nursing Concepts (BSN course)
  • Health Assessment and Promotion for Disease Prevention (BSN course)
  • Graduate Nursing Study
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Advanced Leadership for Nursing
  • Practice Immersion

If you so intend to earn your MSN degree online, confirm that your university is fully accredited by  the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. With full accreditation, you will know that the MSN program has been fully vetted and is a program of quality. It is worth consulting the CCNE website to determine if the MSN program you are considering has full accreditation.

Doing an RN to MSN transition is usually a very wise financial and educational choice for most nurses. Obtaining your MSN will allow you to transition to a high-paying career in advanced practice nursing. You also will enjoy nearly unlimited job demand in many regions of the US.