When people are choosing a career, they usually want to have good pay, strong job demand and feel as if they are making a difference. Entering the nursing field is one of the best career decisions you can make in the 21st century. The demand, pay and opportunities to help others in the nursing field continue to increase.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks salary and job demand data for most major professions in the United States. The demand for jobs for nurses generally will increase by a healthy 16% by 2024; for advanced nursing practice professionals such as nurse practitioners, job demand will soar by 31%.
Also, getting a nursing degree has never been more convenient than today. You can earn many nursing degrees online today and rarely have to leave your home, except for your clinical rotation hours.
If you are thinking about an online nursing degree, you should consider these five nursing degrees that are most in demand that we list below.
#1 Master of Science in Nursing (Nurse Practitioner Track)
The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) is the online degree that is in most demand because this graduate degree is required to enter the nursing fields with the greatest job demand and salary.
With an MSN degree, you can become a nurse practitioner, where you will do many of the same jobs as doctors: conducting medical examinations, prescribing drugs, ordering tests and diagnosing them.
An NP is one of the most respected Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) today. A major advantage of entering this profession is that you can specialize in many sorts of nursing, depending upon your interests:
- Gerontology: Care, education and disease prevention in elderly patients.
- Oncology: Provide care for cancer patients as they are dealing with diagnosis and treatment.
- Family practice: Meet the healthcare needs of families by providing direct care and health assessments
- Pediatrics: Provide primary care for children and adolescents.
- Neonatal: Provide general and critical care to newborns and infants
- Mental health: Work with people with mental health issues.
Your online degree program can be completed full time in two years. As you are looking at MSN programs, you should be looking for CCNE accreditation provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
An excellent online MSN degree program for the NP track is Drexel University. This program is accredited by the CCNE. The curriculum is on a synchronous schedule and includes these courses:
- Confronting Issues in Contemporary Health Care Environments
- Advanced Ethical Decision Making in Health Care
- Quality and Safety in Health Care
- Research Methods and Biostatistics
- Evaluation and Translation of Health Research
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced Pathophysiology
After you graduate, you must continue to hold your active RN license in your state, and you must pass your national certification examination in your area of specialization. The American Nurses Credentialing Center may certify you in many NP specializations:
- Acute Care
- Adult Care
- Family Practice
- Psychiatric and Mental Health
- School NP
#2 Master of Science in Nursing (Certified Nurse Midwife Track)
A certified nurse midwife is referred to as a CNM. This professional focuses on the health of women, and does gynecological examinations, family planning, baby delivery, pre- and post-natal care, and often has to deal with emergency situations during labor.
A CNM is a registered nurse and must earn an MSN degree. It also takes two years and there is soaring job demand in the field.
A solid online nursing degree option to become a CNM is available at the University of North Carolina. After you finish your MSN degree, you then can sit for your national certification examination; this university has a pass rate of more than 91%. The program also has a 96% retention rate for nurses who begin the CNM specific courses. The University of North Carolina program is certified by the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME). The curriculum you will study online includes:
- Biostatistics for Evidence Based Practice
- Advanced Physiology and Pathophysiology
- Advanced Reproductive Dynamics
- Health Care Policy
- Theoretical Basis for Clinical Reasoning
- Research and Best Evidence for Clinical Reasoning
After you graduate with your MSN, you must seek certification through the American Midwifery Certification Board.
#3 Master of Science in Nursing (Certified Nurse Anesthetist Track)
A certified nurse anesthetist is a registered nurse whose job focuses on providing anesthesia care and services during surgeries. They also are experts in pain management. Before any surgery or medical procedure starts, a CRNA must talk to the patient about any drugs they are taking, as well as any allergies they have that could cause a reaction to any anesthetic.
Becoming a CRNA also requires you to earn your Master of Science in Nursing. Texas Wesleyan University offers a 28 month program that is done mostly online. The first phase of the CRNA program focuses on your academic, online work, and the second phase focuses on clinicals, which you do in your area. Coursework includes:
- Human Patient Simulation
- Professional Aspects of Anesthesia
- Applied Chemistry for the Nurse Anesthetist
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Advanced Anatomy, Physiology and Pathophysiology
- Research Methods in Nurse Anesthesia
- Advanced Physical and Health Assessment
- Advanced Anesthesia Pharmacology
Note that you need to have an active RN license and a year of full time critical care experience to be considered for this program.
After your graduation, you need to be licensed and certified by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for CRNAs (NBCRNA).
#4 Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN to BSN
Earning your bachelor of science in nursing will open the door to a fantastic career of high job demand and high salaries. You also can earn your BSN and later transition into an MSN program as highlighted above, which gives you the chance for a much higher salary.
If you are a current RN and hold an associate’s degree or diploma of nursing, an RN to BSN online program can get you your bachelor’s in approximately two years. At Western Governor’s University, you can expand your nursing knowledge and skills well beyond your current level of knowledge. The WGU program requires a clinical experience of 90 hours that you can complete locally.
Key subject areas:
- Health Assessment
- Nutrition for Contemporary Society
- Professional Roles and Values
- Leadership and Professional Image
- Community Health and Population Focused Nursing
- Information Management and Application of Technology
- Evidence Based Practice and Applied Nursing Research
After you have completed your BSN, you must become licensed in your state by passing the NCLEX-RN examination.
#5 Master of Science in Nursing – Direct Entry
If you do not have a nursing background, you should look for an MSN direct entry online program. This program is designed to get you your MSN degree, plus your BSN, in approximately four years. After you take your BSN classes and sit for your NCLEX-RN examination, you are then an RN and can complete your MSN classes. A direct entry program can save your two or three years.
An excellent choice is the program offered at Northeastern University. This program allows you to get your BSN in approximately two years and earn your RN designation by taking the NCLEX-RN exam. Then you need to get one or two years of nursing experience. Then, you may continue and earn your MSN degree.
After you earn your MSN, you can then become an NP, CRNA or CNM, among other advanced nursing practice professions.
Classes you will take include:
- Nursing Interventions and Assessment
- Lab for Nursing Interventions and Assessment
- Nursing with Women and Families
- Nursing Care of Adults
- Clinical for Nursing Care of Adults
- Nursing and Promotion of Mental Health
- Nursing Care of the Child
- Public Health Community Nursing
After graduation, you then need to seek your certification in whichever speciality you have chosen.