Registered Nurses (RNs) can pursue many different routes that can help them further advance their careers.
Nurses can specialize, earn certifications, or pursue further education to increase their knowledge and earning power.
For RNs who are interested in pursuing career development, earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and becoming a Nurse Practitioner (NP) can be a strategic way of propelling their careers and making new opportunities available.
Advantages of being an NP over an RN
As mentioned, one advantage of becoming an NP rather than remaining an RN is the chance to specialize in a specific care area.
These areas include (but aren’t limited to) psychiatry and mental health, pediatrics, family practice, gerontology, and more. Specialization can make it easier for an RN to hone the skills and responsibilities in areas he or she finds the most interesting.
A second advantage of earning an MSN is increased earning power and job opportunities.
The median annual salary for NPs is, on average, 60% larger than that of RNs. This is a significant return on investment and well worth considering if you are currently an RN or pursuing a nursing career.
Steps to Becoming an NP
If you are interested in pursuing an MSN degree to become an NP, a few stages will be involved in the process.
Completing an NP program is a significant investment of time, money, and energy – but done right, the process can be minimally disruptive to normal life and be an effective investment that benefits you and your career in its entirety.
Use these five steps to help streamline the process and keep you on track to earning an MSN effectively and quickly.
Step One: Determine Fit for Your Career Goals
Not everyone will necessarily benefit from an MSN degree. But if you want to progress your nursing career and access bigger opportunities down the road, an MSN can be one of the most effective pathways for accomplishing this.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to take a good look at your personal aspirations and hopes for your career to determine whether this is the right path for you.
Step Two: Explore Program Options
MSN degrees are attainable through a range of program types.
It’s important to vet what is out there before deciding on the degree program you want to pursue. In-person programs offer some advantages like accessibility and hands-on experience.
However, pursuing a virtual program such as an RN to NP Online offers different benefits such as increased flexibility, access to a wider range of programs irrespective of their physical location, and much more.
Step Three: Check on Your Prerequisites
Each MSN program will require different prerequisites to be able to attend.
These can range widely across different degrees (some only require an associate’s degree while others require a bachelor’s), amounts of previous work experience required, GPA minimums in previous degrees, and more.
Some might require you to have work experience in the area in which you hope to further develop a specialty.
It’s important to know the requirements that will be expected of you so that you are ready to go with the documentation you need in hand when application cycles open.
Step Four: Prepare for Success
It’s really important to make sure you take on an MSN program during a life stage in which you can complete it effectively. MSN programs take concerted effort, resource, and time.
Take stock of your current life situation before entering an MSN program and make sure you have strategies in place for how you’ll balance the workload with your other responsibilities.
Step Five: Get the Support You Need
You don’t have to approach this process alone. Make use of the resources around you that can help make this process easier.
Your colleagues in the program with you, your professors and teachers, your coworkers, contacts who have completed MSN degrees in the past, your family and friends, and more can all weigh in and provide support for you as you embark on earning an MSN.
Whether this looks like helping cover your work shifts during exam season, answering content or curriculum questions, helping you study, or simply providing moral support as you embark on this journey, this support can change the entire nature of your experience and make it much easier for you to push through the program and secure your degree.
Wherever you currently are in your nursing career, considering an MSN program and becoming an NP can be a hugely beneficial and strategic step in advancing your professional career.
Taking the time to understand your needs, the options available to you, and the nuances of your particular situation will help you take on a degree program and complete it with flying colors.
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