5 careers to pursue with your MSN

Health care hiring has been one of the major engines of job growth since the Great Recession. Affected in large part by policy reform, hiring of nurses and other health care professionals boomed to start the decade, and has kept pace at a steady clip since 2.2 million jobs in 2016 alone were created, more than any other sector. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates health care accounts for nearly 1/10th of national employment.

A healthy job market and a vibrant industry have fostered a particularly advantageous environment for nurses looking to advance their careers. The growth in health care has not only led to salary increases, but has also opened new opportunities for nurses in specialization and high-level leadership. Demand exists for such positions; however, the higher up the chain one goes, the more important a graduate degree becomes.

Nurses completing an online Master’s of Science in Nursing course can use their degree to contend for a number of different careers. Here are five of those top jobs nurses can target with an MSN.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Those looking to maximize the earning potential of their MSN can consider the career path of a certified registered nurse anesthetist. This field of nursing is attractive to many because of the salary nurses can achieve in this position: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics measured annual median pay for CRNAs at more than $164,000, making it one of the highest-paying jobs out there for nurses. It’s also a fast-growing specialization, as the BLS estimated CRNA employment will grow 19 percent between 2014 and 2024 to reach some 45,000 jobs nationally.

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, CRNAs “are master’s prepared advanced practice nurses who enjoy a high degree of autonomy and professional respect.” They can both assist anesthesiologists, as well as administer on their own, safely helping around 43 million patients a year. CRNAs can be found in any range of settings, including: hospitals, obstetrics, ambulatory surgical centers, dentist offices and plastic surgeon practices. CRNAs are especially present in rural areas, where they may constitute 100 percent of anesthesia providers.

The high salary is related to all the criteria nurses must meet to achieve certification (years of education, residence and anesthesia-specific coursework), as well as the day-to-day of the job. CRNAs often work in high-pressure situations (like operating rooms) and are given high-level responsibilities. Yet these duties can be balanced out by compensation and the profile nurses can build for themselves in the position.

Clinical Nurse Leader

One of the exciting developments in modern health care (along with innovations like telemedicine) is the rise of the clinical nurse leader. While relatively new, the CNL job has opened for nurses new doors to the upper echelons of management and leadership, even executive positions. Certification as a CNL, devised and overseen by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, has seen steadily increasing interest. The total number of candidates sitting for the CNL exam more than doubled from 597 in 2010 to 1,112 in 2016—the overwhelming majority of whom had received a master’s.

Average salaries for CNLs trend toward the higher end of the spectrum: $75,000 annually, according to PayScale. The expansion of health care and the influx of newly insured created a need among all provider and care settings for nurses with refined skills in coordination, collaboration and organization. Achieving certification as a CNL means a nurse is prepared to handle core responsibilities like:

  • Interdepartmental and interprofessional relationship-building.
  • Tracking care delivery and outcomes, and strategizing improvements.
  • Providing consistent communication and leadership.

Certified Nurse Midwife

Yet another concentration online MSN degree holders can investigate is certification as a nurse midwife. Greater interest among families in a comprehensive pregnancy and birthing experience—that is, having a personal CNM to lean on throughout the process—has led to new job prospects for nurses who are interested in caring for mother and child. The number of nurse midwife positions is expected to grow 25 percent from 2014 to 2024, according to BLS; this as median annual salaries reach $99,000. The enticing job market has drawn considerable interest from graduate degree-prepared nurses: The American College of Nurse-Midwives said some 82 percent of CNMs hold a master’s.

Separate from general obstetrics, midwifery is more of a personalized form of care, and CNMs often only focus on, at most, a handful of patients at a time. This enables them to dedicate greater time and effort to providing prenatal and postpartum care for mothers, as well as the babies they deliver. CNMs consult with their patients on the latter’s preferences, and are thus more likely to practice in settings outside the office or hospital (like in the home), or as an independent party.

Research Nurse

The academic side of nursing also heavily factors into creating career opportunities for master’s-holding graduates. Clinical research nurses are on the frontlines of innovations in patient care and safety, an attractive prospect for nurses who want to make an impact in policy or medical breakthroughs that contribute to better outcomes. As well as being a rewarding profession in substance, research nurse salaries average around $70,000, according to PayScale.

It’s important to note that clinical research nurse roles vary beyond pharmaceutical trials, an attractive quality to nurses with niche interests. While research on medications has a large share of the market, technology presents the most inviting opportunities. Clinical research nurses may be employed to test and track new developments like remote care and implantable devices, as well as equipment that facilitates new modes of care and biologics. Other research initiatives address the subject of patient safety, which may give clinical research nurses a chance to reform procedures and protocols for the collective good.

Particular job responsibilities a clinical research nurse can expect are:

  • Data collection and reporting.
  • Grant writing.
  • Gaining patient consent and study approval.

Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners focus on primary or specialty care in a number of focuses, whether gerontology, family medicine, pediatrics, psychiatrics, oncology, surgery or emergency. This breadth of career choices draws great interest to certification as a nursing practitioner, which requires a master’s in most cases. According to BLS, nurse practitioners earn $100,000 on average, and the profession is expected to undergo 35 percent job growth between 2014 and 2024.

NPs can work independently or with an established practice or system, and bring clinical and management skills to the position. NPs perform services like diagnosing and care delivery, as well as engage in decision-making and consultations.

Consider USF for your online MSN

The common thread among all these careers is a master’s degree. A graduate education is not only an essential qualification, but also a necessary step to a doctorate. The experience and knowledge gained within these programs are critical in preparing nurses for their career. If you’re considering making the leap, consider the University of San Francisco’s online Master of Science in Nursing program. Contact us today to learn more about our program, as well as our CNL track, and how USF might fit in your career plans.

Sources:

http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20170106/NEWS/170109951

http://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/health-care-employment-as-total/?currentTimeframe=0&selectedRows=%7B%22wrapups%22:%7B%22united-states%22:%7B%7D%7D%7D&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291151.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6

http://www.aana.com/ceandeducation/becomeacrna/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.aacn.nche.edu/leading-initiatives/cnl/cnl-certification/pdf/CNLStats.pdf

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Clinical_Nurse_Leader/Salary

http://www.aacn.nche.edu/cnl/pdf/cnl-talking-points.pdf

http://www.midwife.org/Essential-Facts-about-Midwives

http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Clinical_Research_Nurse/Salary

 

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