A masters of science in nursing allows nurses to obtain the title of advanced practice nurse, which can boost a registered nurse’s career. Advanced practice nurses specialize in one of several essential areas of nursing, all of which assist in improving nursing practices. Each state’s Board of Nursing requires credentialing after obtaining a masters of science in nursing to practice professionally as an advanced practice nurse.
Clinical Nurse Specialist
Clinical nurse specialists focus their skills on a specific patient population. They become specialists in a disease, illness or type of medical care such as pediatrics, oncology, mental health or geriatrics. Clinical nurse specialists are leaders in their work environment. They often oversee other registered nurses, perform research, improve the clinical practice in their specialty and consult with other medical professionals such as physicians and surgeons to ensure the best care of patients.
A nurse practitioners can be a primary care provider. Like general practice physicians, nurse practitioners diagnose and treat illnesses and injuries, develop treatment plans and prescribe medication for patients. Nurse practitioners can specialize in a specific medical discipline or practice in general medicine. They can work in a variety of clinical settings such as physician’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes or independently.
Nurse midwives specialize in treating pregnant woman and the birth of their children. Their advanced training allows them to provide prenatal and postpartum care, deliver babies, advise patients throughout their pregnancy and also counsel patients on family planning and birth control methods. Nurse midwives work in private practices and with hospitals.
Nurse anesthetists provide anesthesia and monitor patients during medical procedures. Similar to the role of an anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetists prepare patients for medical procedures that require anesthesia and monitor patients during and after the procedures. They work in health care setting such as hospitals, outpatient care facilities, dental offices and other medical environments.
Indirect Care Careers
Some studies in a master’s degree program allow nurses to specialize in careers that do not provide clinical care to patients. These competencies including education, scientific research, health care technology and nursing administration.
Career Outlook and Salary
Nursing careers are expected to increase, with more than 700,000 nursing jobs opening between 2010 and 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Earning a master's of science in nursing provides financial rewards immediately after graduation and state credentialing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing estimates an average starting salary for advanced practice nurses ranging from $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Nurse midwives and nurse anesthetists can earn starting salaries as high as $90,000 per year. Because advanced practice nurses are in high demand, many employers work directly with schools to hire them immediately after graduation and credentialing.
2016 Salary Information for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses earned a median annual salary of $68,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, registered nurses earned a 25th percentile salary of $56,190, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $83,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,955,200 people were employed in the U.S. as registered nurses.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Registered Nurses
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Master's Education in Nursing and Areas of Practice
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Master's Nursing Programs
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses
- Career Trend: Registered Nurses
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