What to Know About Getting an Advanced Nursing Degree

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There are many amazing nursing careers that require an advanced nursing degree, but what type of degree is best and how to you get there? Learn how to earn your MSN, what job opportunities you will have, and how Felician’s ABSN program can accelerate you into your career.

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Nursing is a rewarding job because you get to help people. It is also an intelligent career move due to the current nursing shortage and the array of paths within the field. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the perfect educational path to jump-start your career. It will lead you toward becoming a registered nurse (RN) and can help qualify you for an advanced nursing degree in the future.

Felician University's Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can help you fast-track your nursing journey. If you have at least 60 non-nursing credits or a bachelor’s degree in another area, you can earn your BSN through our program in New Jersey in as few as 16 to 18 months. By the time you graduate, you can sit for the NCLEX examination, which allows you to become an RN.

As the largest profession in the healthcare field, nurses are in demand in a variety of settings. Before discussing the different advanced nursing degrees and their specialties, we must first clarify how a BSN is fundamental to your nursing education.

Starting with a BSN

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the most recognized undergraduate nursing degree. You can become a nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), but having a BSN is becoming an increasingly common hiring requirement for nurses in most healthcare facilities nationwide. If you want to specialize in a specific nursing field, a BSN is the right foundation to build upon.

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Benefits of a BSN

In addition to many hospitals making a BSN the minimum requirement, having a higher degree will make you appear more advantageous to Magnet Status hospitals. Facilities awarded this status by the Magnet Recognition Program demonstrate high levels of commitment to quality healthcare and excellent treatment of their nurses. Nursing positions at these facilities are highly sought-after, and a BSN may give you that extra competitive boost.

Here are some additional benefits of having a BSN:

  • Higher starting salary
  • Better professional development
  • More autonomy
  • Increased career opportunities
  • It will set you apart when applying for jobs.
  • It is the minimum requirement if you seek to further your education.

Why Choose an Advanced Nursing Degree

An MSN is a Master of Science in Nursing, a graduate degree that qualifies you for more positions and specializations than you can access with only an undergraduate degree. MSNs are unique because you can explore more avenues in your professional life.

Many advanced nursing degrees also provide you with particular expertise in a specialty. With an MSN or other more specific advanced degree, you can seek certification as a nurse educator, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and much more.

The Difference Between an MSN, a DNP, and a Ph.D.

The MSN is a master's-level degree that typically takes between 18 months and three years to complete. The DNP is a Doctorate of Nursing Practice and requires an additional year of coursework beyond the MSN, as well as clinical practice and dissertation research. The Ph.D. is also a doctorate but focuses on research rather than clinical practice. Both reflect the same level of education but with different applications of learning.

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Careers That Require Advanced Nursing Degrees

Within the nursing field is a great variety of specialties. Some focus on the type of patient or condition, while others focus more on research, management skills, or education. Whether you are looking for specialized training or want to expand your knowledge, with more education, you will have more opportunities for growth and success.

Here are some specialties within the nursing field that require an advanced nursing degree.

Nurse Practitioner

These nurses have at least a master's degree and can diagnose patients, prescribe medications, order labs, authorize treatments, and make referrals to other healthcare providers if needed. Nurse practitioners may also specialize in areas such as pediatrics or women’s health. They bring their knowledge and years of experience as registered nurses to diagnosing, treating, and managing medical issues.

Acute Care Nurse

An acute care nurse works with patients requiring assistance with severe or life-threatening issues and conditions. Their duties include making life-saving decisions in fast-paced environments. Acute care nurses usually pursue additional certifications, such as pediatrics or adult-gerontology, to help patients in the best way possible.

Clinical Nurse Specialist

Clinical nurse specialists have earned an advanced degree in their practice area – like oncology or pediatrics – and they oversee the care of patients with complex chronic conditions. These nurses are trained in advanced physiology, pharmacology, and physical assessment in addition to their specialty areas. They often work with teams of other nurses and doctors to provide coordinated patient care.

Clinical Nurse Consultant

A clinical nurse consultant has less education than a clinical nurse specialist but still provides valuable input for managing patient care within an organization or hospital system. It's not uncommon for certified nursing assistants to be promoted into this role after gaining more experience within their medical specialty area(s).

Certified Nurse Midwife

These nurses specialize in pregnancy, prenatal care, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. Even though their primary focus is pregnancy care, they can also help with reproductive care. Nurse midwives help mothers have a drug- and intervention-free childbirth process if desired, and they have a more one-on-one relationship with the parents.

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Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

This type of advanced-practice RN administers anesthesia during surgery, so surgeons and other physicians can complete the procedure with little to no discomfort to the patient. Nurse anesthetists may use intravenous drugs, inhalation agents, or regional blocks, depending on which modality is most appropriate for each procedure.

Research Nurse

Research nurses conduct scientific studies, analyze data, and work with patients during clinical trials. These nurses receive training in informatics and research methodology tools. Even though they don’t provide direct nursing care, their research and work help improve nursing and save patients’ lives.

Nurse Educator

Nurse educators are the mentors who will teach the next generation of nurses. This nursing role usually requires a doctorate and many years of nursing experience. Nurse educators act as advisers and role models to their students, assisting them in their journeys toward becoming successful registered nurses.

Are You Ready to Begin Your Nursing Journey?

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There are many nursing degrees that a student can pursue. While there are no universal requirements for applying for an advanced nursing degree, most programs require at least two years of clinical experience.

Plenty of options exist when it comes to advanced nursing degrees. As a first step toward becoming eligible and then pursuing an advanced nursing degree, you can earn your BSN in as few as 16 to 18 months through Felician University’s accelerated program. If you are ready to become a nurse, contact us today to speak to an admissions counselor.