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Guide to Masters in Nursing

Masters of Science in Nursing Degree

While working towards a Masters in Nursing, students get introduced to a wide variety of topics that will allow them into the work force to promote health, provide care for patients, provide nursing supervision, and advance medical education. Some of the common course topics include administration of medication, common medical treatments, assisting physicians, planning and providing education on health maintenance, referring patients to healthcare specialist, and patient care. Many nurses specialize while obtaining their masters. Some get additional training around leadership roles while others get education or informatics specialization.

Many that choose to pursue a nursing degree come with previous nursing experience. Many of them are working actively in hospitals or doctors' offices around the country. Some live in smaller communities that are a distance from traditional college campuses. For them as well as individuals that live busy lives, obtaining a degree online gives them with the chance for professional advancement without taking time off of work to go to class. Nursing Master's Programs given online offer these students the chance for professional advancement. These online masters degrees hold as much professional clout as those degrees received on traditional campuses. It is the solution for busy people.

Those that graduate with their masters often end up specializing in particular areas. Those that received additional training in leadership roles often go on to become managers and directors of larger nursing staffs. Those that receive additional training in education or informatics go on to work for private corporations or become educators at the college level. Some go on to receive additional certifications to become nurse practitioners or nurse anesthetists.

Additional Nursing Grad Resources

University of California/San Francisco The Master of Nursing (MSN) degree at UCSF has several areas of specialization for nurse practitioner and clinical nurse specialist candidates: Acute Care, Cardiovascular Nursing, Community Health, Critical Care/Trauma, Gerontology, Oncology, Pediatrics, and Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing. There are also specializations for Nurse Leadership and Nurse Midwifery.

Oregon Health & Science University is the State School of Medicine, Nursing Pharmacy and Dentistry. There are five satellite campuses in addition to the main facility in Portland, and selected Master of Nursing programs are offered in each location including Family Nurse Practitioner, Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Clinical Nurse Specialist. There are also programs for Nurse Midwifery, Nursing Education, and Public Health.

University of Illinois/Chicago MSN program is actually available at four University of Illinois campuses, but is anchored by the UIC because of the fact that it has the largest medical school in Illinois. The options for Nurse Practitioner and/or Clinical Nurse Specialist include Mental Health, Acute Care, Occupational Health, Community Health, Pediatrics, Schools, Women's Health, Nurse Midwife, and Nurse Administrator.

University of Colorado/Denver has one of the nursing programs in the nation. The Master of Nursing degree options include MSN in Health Informatics, in Nurse Leadership, and in Nurse Midwifery. The options for specialization for students working towards a Nurse Practitioner or Clinical Nurse Specialist degree include Women's Health, Pediatrics, Adult practice, Family practice, and Mental Health/Psychiatric practice.

Rush University offers the MSN program for non-nurses as a special academic track that leads to an MSN as Clinical Nurse Leader. The options for MSN in Clinical Nurse Specialist include Adult CNS, Critical Care, Gerontological, Public Health, and Pediatric specializations. The Masters in Nurse Practitioner options are Acute Care, Pediatrics, Adult/Gerontological, Family, Neonatal, and Psychiatric.

Professional Nursing Associations

American Nurses Association is the largest nurses professional organization in the U.S. The Association has a government affairs program that is active at the state and federal level. There is a career center on the website, a continuing education component (an annual requirement for all nurses), and divisions within the organization for advanced practice nurses, educators, and students.

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners has existed since 1985 and has grown with the development of the profession which today counts 135,000 practicing NPs in the United States. The organization is divided into eleven geographical regions, each with its own active chapter. There is also an AANP Foundation which provides guidance, links and counseling for advanced practice nursing students.

American College of Nurse Midwives dates back to 1929 and is the oldest nursing professional organization in the nation. Today the College has a comprehensive continuing education program offered as seminars presented in many locations. There is a library of resources on the profession and in particular on the tasks involved in establishing a practice. Several publications and research documents are available to members through the website.

National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists was founded in Indiana in 1995 as the outgrowth of a regional conference. Today the organization has assumed national scope, offering services and networking opportunities along with a scholarship program for MSN students who are working towards clinical nurse specialist certification. The Association has a career center and information resource guide on the website.

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists was founded in 1931 in the days when nurses first began taking on the responsibility of surgical anesthesia. Today nurse anesthetists are clinical specialists, and the organization representing them has been instrumental in developing accreditation guidelines for nursing schools in anesthesia and credentialing for nurse anesthetists.

Nursing Accreditation and Credentials

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is the credentialing body for baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing, as recognized by the U,S, Department of Education and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. The organization accredits nursing schools and also has a hand in accrediting nursing residency programs.

American Nurses Credentialing Center is an offshoot of the American Nursing Association, offering a credentialing system that provides a viable professional recognition program for several specializations within the profession. The ANCC offers credentialing for nine specializations within the Clinical Nurse Specialist category; nine specializations for Nurse Practitioners; nineteen additional specializations for RNs and/or advanced practice nurses, and credentialing for Forensic Nursing, Nurse Executives, Diabetes Management, and Public Health.

Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools is an organization established in the 1970s at the behest of the then Department of Health Education and Welfare in order to evaluate the educational status of nurses migrating to the United States. Today the organization is a globally recognized authority on nursing education and qualification for nursing professionals seeking employment in a nation other than the one in which they were trained.

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board is another respected certification program for Nurse Practitioners that is an alternative to ANCC credentialing. Many nurses solicit both credentials, working in a field where there are over 200 credentialing options for RNs and Advanced Practice Nurses.

American Board of Nursing Specialties certifies the certifiers. This organization was organized in 1991 to create uniformity in nursing certification. The Board is a non-profit institution that functions in a peer-to-peer environment, developing criteria for credentialing recognition that is designed to bring some order to the alphabet soup that has come to define specialties in the profession.

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