Many nurses get into their field by earning an Associate's degree in nursing or a Bachelor's degree in nursing. But if you already have a Bachelor's degree in another field, you don't have to start over with an undergraduate nursing degree. The critical thinking skills you developed during your first undergraduate degree may have paved the way for you to attend an accelerated MSN program in Colorado.
Since you likely already meet many of the prerequisite requirements, you may be able to save time on your overall nursing degree completion time. In general, most direct entry MSN programs last between 18 and 24 months. Request information from the Colorado nursing schools that offer Direct Entry MSN programs to learn more about program details.
One of the decisions you have to make fairly early in your program is what career path you're interested in. An MSN can lead you to a career in nursing informatics, nursing leadership or administration, nurse education, or advanced nursing care. Nursing informatics may require you to spend your clinical time in the lab or in a data entry setting. Nurse leaders may work in a higher-level hospital management setting. If you go into a nurse education program, you can get your clinical hours in an undergraduate nursing program. Clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes serve as the clinical sites for advanced care nurses.
Courses you must take regardless of your specialty choice include Theoretical Basis of Nursing, Foundations of Healthcare Informatics, Health Systems and Policy, and Research Methods for Advanced Practice. Informatics and leadership students may take more classes on leadership and information storage, while education students take courses on curriculum development and assessment. Clinical work and knowledge is at the core of various clinical specialties. Courses that differ across specialties include Information Systems in Nursing, Curriculum in Nursing Education, and Primary Care for Children and Families.
Many Colorado employers and nursing associations are interested in increasing the amount of Master's-level nursing professionals that are working in this state. To make this career choice more appealing to motivated individuals, they may offer scholarships and grants to help students avoid student debt. There are also student loan repayment plans to help you cover your loan payments. Friends of Nursing awards more than 25 scholarships to Colorado students each year, totaling over $70,000 per year. There are also 25 scholarships available each year through the Colorado Nurses Foundation. Scholarships are worth $500 to $2,000 each. If you want to become a nurse practitioner and work in primary care, you may qualify for a scholarship of $500 to $1,000 offered by the Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses.
Because of the many duties and responsibilities MSN holders can take on, there is a great demand for their skills in many parts of Colorado. The lowest growth rate in the state belong to nurse anesthetists, for whom O*Net expects job openings to increase by 21% between 2012 and 2022. In that same time frame, they expect an impressive 45% increase in job openings for nursing instructors (O*Net, 2012). They anticipate job openings for other advanced nursing jobs to increase at moderate rates through 2022 (O*Net, 2012).
You may be able to earn a wide range of salaries as a graduate-level nurse in Colorado. The salary you earn is largely dependent on which nursing specialty you choose and where you work. Nurses in private settings, like for-profit hospitals or home care, may earn more than those that work in the public sector. Average salaries in Colorado range from $59,800 per year for nurse instructors to $167,700 per year for nurse anesthetists (O*Net, 2013).
Prior to beginning work as an advanced practice nurse, you'll need to get your license from the Colorado Board of Nursing. This process requires you to go through a rigorous set of tests based upon the specialty you choose.
By jumping into the field as a Master's-level nurse, you may contribute to the overall improvement of the nursing field in Colorado. The leadership skills, research abilities, and advanced care skills you absorb as an MSN graduate can lead to a fulfilling career for you and great care for Colorado residents. Contact the schools that offer Direct Entry nursing programs in Colorado to learn more.